As an adjunct to naming, taglines and slogans are an important component for positioning a company or product line. The magic though is they need to be short and sweet and specific. If they are also clever, humorous or have a rhythm to them, so much the better. I teach clients that you should think of them as written across a billboard alongside a busy freeway where you only have time to read five or size words max (or one picture but that is another story).
I often wonder how many variations Apple went through before selecting the powerfully focused “Think Different” tagline. It works so well on many levels for both customers, employees and whatever innovative product directions they explore. Similarly for Nike’s “Just Do It”. Other memorable ones are listed in our Famous Taglines section.
Of course, there are thousands of other appropriate taglines in the world. They can be used to quickly promote or describe a company, are great for positioning and also for focusing design and direction decisions within a company. Most are not worth registering as trademarks – though be careful not to infringe anyone else’s common law rights by using a “confusingly similar” tagline in a similar industry. On top of that, they can be relatively easily changed as your company and customer awareness grows. When Apple introduced the Mac line of products, their tagline became “Computers for the Rest of Us”. Now they don’t have to tell the world they make computers. In fact they do so much more they even quietly changed their name from Apple Computers Inc to Apple Inc.
Since MacDonalds is now so synonymous with hamburgers, their main taglines and advertising slogans do not need to mention that. Instead they borrowed a classic dentist’s slogan “We Love to See you Smile”.
A trick to finding the right tagline is similar to finding the right name. Initially do not focus on trying to find one. Focus on trying to find a short list of taglines and then do some informal testing – plus sleep on it and see how you feel a week later especially after you have put it on your wall and email signature line while all the time listening to and observing how people react. Since you have to keep it short, realize it is almost always used in conjunction with your name. So don’t repeat any words (or even direct synonyms). If they are in your name they don’t belong in your slogan. Also make sure you have at least one creative wordsmith on your team.
The tagline for our agency is “The Power of ®” but we find very little use for it because our name is so descriptive. As a result, we seldom have need for it – but it sure doesn’t hurt and sometimes pays off big. A venture capitalist once called me early in the a.m. saying what a great tagline it was and he was going to tell all his contacts about it in the greater Los Angeles area. Mission accomplished!
P.S. And don’t forget my first Rule of Marketing: Do Something!