How to Create a Tagline for Your Brand

By Bill Chiaravalle, Barbara Findlay Schenck

A tagline, also called a slogan or motto, is a phrase that accompanies your brand name to quickly translate your positioning and brand statements into a few memorable words that provide an indication of your brand offerings, promise, and market position.

Discovering what makes a great tagline

Great taglines have a number of common attributes. When writing your tagline, see that it meets these criteria:

  • It’s memorable. You hear it, remember it, and repeat it with ease.

  • It’s short. Great taglines have as few as ten syllables so that they’re quick to recite, easy to tuck in alongside logos, and short enough to include in the briefest of communications.

  • It conveys a brand’s point of difference. A good example of this element is Zipcar: “Wheels when you want them.”

  • It differentiates a business from all others. In fact, a great tagline is so unique that it doesn’t work when linked to a competitor’s brand name.

  • It reflects the brand’s identity, character, promise, and personality.

  • It’s believable and original.

A great tagline excels on most or all of these fronts while also avoiding a couple of major tagline mistakes:

  • It invokes positive feelings without running the risk of triggering sarcastic retorts.

  • It appeals to consumers. In other words, the tagline doesn’t get bogged down with the input of executives who inadvertently turn the slogan into a corporate rallying call rather than a consumer magnet.

  • It adds to the meaning of the brand name without repeating any of the same words or concepts.

Deciding whether you need a tagline

Taglines carry your brand identity and promise where your logo can’t go, like your e-mail messages, word ads, voicemail greetings, and other nonvisual communication channels.

Some brand names tell a pretty complete brand story (for example, Coppertone, Jiffy Lube, U-Haul). Other brand names benefit from some quick explanation, which is where taglines come to the rescue. Plus, even seemingly self-sufficient brand names gain dimension through their slogans.

To determine whether you need a tagline, answer these questions:

  • Does your business offer consumers distinct advantages that aren’t conveyed in your name?

  • Would your brand character be more clearly presented with a line that travels with your brand name?

  • Is your company best at something that you want consumers to know about but that isn’t conveyed by your name?

If you answered “yes” to any of these questions, a tagline may well be a strong addition to your brand name, logo, and marketing program.

Coming up with your slogan

In crafting your tagline, follow this advice:

  • Know your positioning statement. What meaningful and available niche in your market do you fill better than any other brand?

  • Based on your unique position, come up with a list of quick, memorable one-liners that convey your special distinction.

  • Put each of your tagline contenders to the test by seeing if they live up to the qualities listed above. For further evaluation, seek input from branding experts and take advantage of the free tagline test tool offered at TaglineGuru.com, identified by the great tagline, “It’s your brand on the line.”