So many companies are vying for our attention these days, from online advertising to product placement in TV shows. Search anything on Google, and you might have trouble telling the ads and sponsored content apart from the organic results.
As a business owner or entrepreneur, how do you differentiate your product or service and stand out among all this noise?
The answer lies in your branding. Create a strong and unique association in the minds of your target audience, and they will instinctively pick your offering more often than products or services from brands they don’t recognize.
That’s why slogans and taglines are so important.
If you’re hungry, driving, and you hear “I’m lovin’ it” on the radio? The thought of pulling over at McDonald’s instantly crosses your mind. So let’s explore what a good tagline for business is and how you can write a catchy tagline for your own project or brand.
Feel free to jump ahead to any of the content below:
- What is a tagline?
- What makes a great tagline?
- How to write a compelling tagline for your business: 5 tips
- 10 examples of successful business taglines
A tagline is a short phrase that summarizes the essence of a brand, highlights its benefits, or puts a creative spin on its presentation. (E.g. “Got milk?”)
Brand taglines are often used interchangeably with advertising slogans, although the former tend to be used consistently over time and apply to the whole company, whereas the latter are created specifically for advertising campaigns.
For example, “Think different” was a slogan used by Apple in its ad campaigns around 1997-2002. It was so memorable, however, that people still refer to it as Apple’s official tagline even today.
Taglines are the most shared element of your branding, right after your business name. That’s why an effective tagline should be easy to remember and repeat. Using obscure references and dated lingo is not a good idea.
The key to a great business tagline is finding a way to simplify your value proposition down to a few words while keeping focus on differentiating your offering from the competition.
The number one mistake people make when writing tag lines is either trying to cram as many product features as possible into it or, just the opposite, writing a statement so vague it can be applied to anything.
A great tagline should:
- Be creative and different
- Be easy to remember and say out loud
- Relate to your brand or product
- Feature your most essential benefit
Don’t spend weeks overthinking your business tagline. You should be willing to experiment with it. The best test for tagline efficacy is using it on your target audience in the real world, where you’ll quickly find out whether it works or not.
There’s no single way to create a tagline. (Especially one that will resonate with people worldwide.) Even if you really understand your potential customers, some measure of good luck for the tagline to become well-known is still required.
That said, you can follow a few good practices pulled from decades of copywriting and advertising specialists’ experience.
For example, in his book Strategic Copywriting: How to Create Effective Advertising, Edd Applegate outlines five suggestions for coming up with slogans:
- Separate the product from the competition.
- Use words that the target market understands.
- State one compelling idea that grasps the product’s major benefit.
- Be careful when using a pun, play on words, cliché, or rhyme.
- Include the product’s name.
Applegate also mentions that using your slogan before testing it is a big no-no.
These are great directives. Let’s slightly revise them and incorporate them into five tips for writing effective taglines.
1. Start with your mission
Taglines are not just catchphrases — they should embody the essence of your brand.
So writing a tagline should start with being clear about your mission, and what your company is trying to do in the world. It doesn’t have to be too visionary, either. BMW’s tagline is “the ultimate driving machine.” It’s clear, aspirational, and mentions both the mission and the product.
Make sure that your mission speaks to your target audience.
2. Find the essence
Once you have your mission written out, you can start to cut away everything non-essential.
Don’t worry about how your tagline sounds yet, just highlight one or two words that really convey what your brand stands for and what the value proposition to your audience is.
3. Come up with a concept
With just a few words derived from your mission, you can move on to brainstorming.
All creative ideas have a concept — an unexpected twist on an idea that is easy to understand but also interesting enough to talk about. Your concept should be your differentiator that sets you apart from the competition and makes you impossible to ignore.
For example, the tagline of M&Ms is “Melts in your mouth, not in your hands.” While you instantly get that this is about chocolate, it also succeeds in taking a secondary benefit and turning it into a truly differentiated proposition.
4. Find the right words
After you’ve defined the creative concept you want to explore, it’s time to turn it into the actual words you’ll use.
Almost none of the most successful slogans use words that are difficult to understand, pronounce, or remember. Very rarely you’ll see a word that’s longer than three syllables used in a big brand’s tagline.
To start, just write the tagline with simple words. Then think about which ones you can change to create more interest:
- Google your tagline for any similar ideas
- Look for synonyms
- Search for the concept on social media to see how it’s used
- Browse successful slogans from big brands for structural ideas
5. Avoid passive voice
As you move into the final edits and polishes of your tagline, there’s one timeless writing rule to remember — avoid passive voice.
While you can find successful slogans written in passive voice or even descriptively (see the M&Ms slogan above), it’s difficult to make them enticing enough, and they are definitely more the exception than the rule.
Using active voice and starting with a verb (e.g. Apple’s “Think different”) is the right choice 90% of the time.
To know how to write a tagline that works, you need to study taglines that have worked in the past. Since practically every company has one, there are thousands of examples to go through.
Here are 10 effective tagline examples for your inspiration.
1. Nike: Just Do It
As you can see, one of the most recognizable taglines in the world uses active voice, simple words, can be easily pronounced, and fits with the brand’s empowering and inspirational image.
2. MasterCard: Priceless
In the case of MasterCard, their tagline has been explained over and over again in their ads by their slogan: “There are some things money can’t buy. For everything else, there’s MasterCard.”
A very accessible and evocative message.
3. Maybelline: Maybe She’s Born With It. Maybe It’s Maybelline.
In their emotional play on words, Maybelline beautifully explains the benefit of their product — wearing makeup without looking like you do.
4. De Beers: A Diamond Is Forever
De Beers shows us a great example of how to sell a premium product. A simple, direct, and benefit-forward message.
5. General Electric: Imagination at Work
Even if your company sells a wide variety of products, you can still be creative in your approach to writing a tagline. General Electric is spread around industries as diverse as healthcare and aviation. So instead of describing the what, they decided to describe the how in their tagline.
6. Taco Bell: Think Outside the Bun
While it’s customary to think that all fast food is the same, Taco Bell has found a way to differentiate itself from competition that primarily serve burgers and sandwiches.
7. Subway: Eat Fresh
Compared to Taco Bell, Subway took another approach. “Eat Fresh” positioned them as a healthier fast food choice and switched the focus to the quality of their ingredients.
8. Red Bull: Gives You Wings
A clever metaphor for how you feel after downing an energy drink, Red Bull’s positioning also fits perfectly with the brand’s overall marketing and sports sponsorship strategy.
9. Disneyland: The Happiest Place on the Earth
When you’re leading the market, you can reinforce your positioning by using superlatives (otherwise not recommended). Disneyland, in this case, sells happiness.
10. Bounty: The Quicker Picker Upper
As mentioned above, you should be careful with rhyming your tagline, since it might be perceived as tacky. In the case of Bounty paper towels, however, their rhyming tagline expresses the benefit of the product well and sounds more creative than out of place.
With these examples top-of-mind, you have everything you need to write a tagline for your business. Remember, the most important thing to do is test your tagline early with your actual target audience and don’t be afraid to change it if it doesn’t work.
Once all your branding is ready, take your business to the next level and start making money online by setting up an online course for your target audience.
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