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Taglines. Slogans. Mottos. Whatever name you use, they’re concise statements that are easy to say and easy to remember. It encapsulates everything you do – and we’re going to look at why they’re important and how to create your own.

Why Have a Tagline?

You know what your company does – but will a stranger? Unless you’ve chosen a super obvious name name like We Buy Any Car chances are people won’t immediately know what you do. Even if you have Dance Company or the like in your title the average person isn’t going to know what your vision is, what style of work you do or what they’re going to experience when they encounter your productions.

But don’t worry. That’s what a tagline does.

A tagline can do lots of different things for you – and you can change it as your company changes. Take a look at Coca Cola. Whatever you may think of the company, they sure have an excellent marketing team. They have over 100 slogans throughout their long history which highlight different aspects of their brand for different audiences at different times. In fact, we can divide them into 8 purposes:

  1. Audience
  2. Call to Action
  3. Activity
  4. Need or Desire
  5. Positioning or Repositioning
  6. USPs
  7. Sign of the Times
  8. Time Relevance

Your tagline doesn’t have to include all of these (that would actually be hard to do) but consider these elements when devising your own:

Audience

Who is your target audience? How are you singling them out?

Call to action

What action, feeling or thought do you want your target audience to experience?

What /  Activity

What are you selling? This could be an experience rather than a description?

Need / Desire

What need or desire are you fulfilling in your offering?

Positioning or Repositioning

Are you needing to combat a false image of yourself or of your activity? Do you want to position what you do in a certain camp?

USPs

Unique Selling Points – what can only you offer?

Sign of the Times

Can you respond to a popular event or topic on everyone’s lips?

Time Relevance

Is what you offer only relevant in a certain time period or situation – is there something that you can play on?

Examples:

“Coca-Cola — the great temperance beverage — it has none of the ill effects or “let down” qualities of alcoholic stimulants.”

This tagline was used in 1907 in America at a time when alcohol was ever more increasingly being seen as sinful. Although prohibition didn’t come into practice till 13 years later, Coca Cola firmly Positioned itself as a ‘moral’ drink. They were also Repositioning themselves – as you can see here – they were keen to shake off the belief that they contained cocaine!

“A perfect blend of pure products from nature.”

Looks like we still care about the same things today as we did in 1923

“Proves big help for tired housewives.”

You’d never see ‘housewives’ referred to in modern ads, but in 1909, it was the done thing. While highlighting very clearly their audience, they’re also idenfiying a need that  the drink fulfils.

“Refreshment that can’t be duplicated.”

In 1942 Coca Cola were obviously very aware of their competitors. They’re pointing out  very clearly a USP.

“Get what you ask for and see that you get it.”

This is an interesting one from 1910 – not only is it a Call to Action, it fulfils a Desire to be demanding and assertive, whilst also challenging the culture in eateries to serve generic coke rather than the brand name.

“Cold, crisp taste that really satisfies.”

1959 repeats a very common theme throughout the years – the word ‘taste’. In other sentences it uses the word as a Call to Action (they’re telling you to a) go taste and then b) qualify what you will taste) Here though it identifies the main Activity that you undertake with Coca Cola. It’s not saying drink, it’s saying taste. It’s creating a very personal experience by using that sensory work that helps people to picture the satisfaction they’ll feel fulfilling a their Need and Desire.

“Red, White, & You”

1986 was the year when America and Russia agreed to mutually disarm, thus ending the long period of Cold War. America caused a lot of tension following this by posturing that they won the Cold War, so it’s interesting to see that this sentiment existed throughout society – to the level of drink sellers.

Throughout Coca Cola’s history there’s been constant references to being All American such as

“America’s Real Choice”

in 1985 and in WWII this image clearly plays on nostalgia in 1946 for a more peaceful times with the tagline

“Just like old times”

These examples clearly show Sign of the Times as while these sentiments wouldn’t be out of place today – they would strike a chord more strongly during these years of conflict when life was severely disrupted by war and where national identity was taking a role of key societal importance.

“Celebrate Britain’s Beat”

This is from the 2012 Olympics. Time Relevance is easier to understand when seen in context with sponsorship with in motto.

This one differs from Sign of the Times because it is about capturing a short, strong sentiment for a very current event and then aligning yourself with it, rather than reflecting the general mood of the nation.

Beat the Arts Cuts – would be a great tagline for a fundraising consultant in the arts which would only have the maximum impact after cuts of funding have been made.

Putting money back in your pocket would be more Sign of the Times because it reflects how the general state of affairs of people feeling poor. In this way it would last longer than Beat the Arts Cuts but would have less of an impact.

What’s your tagline?

Taglines are useful – even if you don’t make them public. Having a short sentence at the back of your mind to pull out when you’re tired, or unexpectedly someone asks you what you do, means you can frame your work quickly and easily and know that you’re on message.

Try brainstorming the different ways you can talk about your work in these 8 categories.

  • What’s the most important thing you want to say about your brand?
  • What is your goal for the next 5 years? Which of these elements help you achieve that?

Don’t rush this. Print out possible tagline and pin them up around your home and sharpie them till you’ve got something that feels right to you.

Test it out on people who don’t know your work – what impressions do they get about your work just from this tagline?

Want to see more great examples of taglines? Sign up to The Inside Track as we’ll be sharing some killer mottos in the next few weeks.

Further Reading

 

This is a wonderful example of both Positioning and Repositioning in one.

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