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Many businesses overlook taglines and slogans when developing their brand, but these can be some of the most effective tools. A well-chosen phrase ensures that your business is more memorable, approachable, and even lovable than the competition. A professionally written tagline will promote your brand while enticing customer to buy your products and services—all in a catchy and clever way. Here are a few aspects of a tagline or slogan that will ensure that they are successful.

Be catchy.

“Reach out and touch someone.” “Don’t leave home without it.” Almost everybody in the United States, and indeed a good part of the globe, knows these branded phrases. Choosing a tagline that sticks in your customers’ heads ensures that your brand is sticking with them as well.

Show a benefit.

Having “1000 songs in your pocket” is a key benefit of owning an iPod, one that appeals to music lovers. Wendy’s reached out to fast food consumers who were frustrated with the minuscule size of the competition’s hamburgers with “Where’s the beef?” As with all other aspects of the brand appeal, don’t merely tell people you are a better choice; show them why.

Build your brand.

Budweiser famously accomplished this with their tagline, “The king of beers.” Consider also Timex, which famously, “takes a licking and keeps on ticking.” Both of these taglines say something about their brand that makes them appeal even more to consumers. Both also include their tagline in print advertisements, linking these words to the logo design and the products.

Be culturally correct.

Sometimes a selection of words has unforeseen connotations in another language. If your company deals with other cultures, be sure to have a native speaker of the applicable language check your tagline or slogan for both catchiness and cultural appropriateness. Pepsi’s famous tagline, “Pepsi brings you back to life” backfired when translated into Mandarin Chinese as “Pepsi brings your ancestors back from the grave.” Not a pretty picture—or a thirst-inducing one. Unfortunately, this happens all too often when companies expand to other cultures. It can also be tricky if your brand name is non-traditional and would be difficult to port into other languages and cultures like one of our clients.


No one needs diamonds, but most people either have bought or received them because of their perceived value as a symbol of love. In fact, they are chosen over other gems merely because as DeBeers puts it, “Diamonds are forever.” Sometimes your customers have to be inspired to buy a product, and your tagline can provide this inspiration. You don’t have to be selling luxury goods to reap this effect. Many parents of picky children have put a box of Life in their shopping cart because “Hey Mikey… he likes it!”.

Include a call to action.

Advertising and marketing in general work best when there is a call to action. This can even be incorporated into your tagline. Consider Nike’s famous “Just do it.” Just hearing it makes you want to strap on some running shoes and hit the pavement. Similarly, how many people choked down a not-so-tasty cereal because it was the “Breakfast of champions?” A tagline that does double duty as a sales pitch will be even more successful. You will see this in action in a previous article I wrote about marketing your clothing brand.

In today’s video, I talk about the power of the right tagline or slogan for your business and the salient features of an appropriate tag-line or slogan for your small business. Using a few well-known examples of brand taglines, I illustrate the importance of having the right kind of slogan and what care you should take when trying to develop a slogan for your business. A word of caution though: every brand does not need a tagline. You should only adopt a tagline when your primary business name or brand does not sufficiently carry across the message of what your company does or your brand message. Some times a tagline can be a hindrance to your brand if it is either absolute, redundant or inconsequential.

Can you identify the brands just by reading the phrases below?

Just Do It
Connecting People
Think Different
The Free Encyclopedia
A Diamond is Forever

Most of us can easily tell these are Nike, Nokia, Apple, Wikipedia, and De Beers. If you want to win the branding game, it is not enough that you have an appealing logo design. You should also create a catchy phrase that your customers can associate with your brand.

When it comes to branding, having a great logo is essential. However, many owners and managers think that image marketing stops there. A tagline is one brand aspect that many small businesses ignore at their peril. This one short phrase can define your company and set you apart from the competition. However, creating a tagline is easier said than done. Here are a few famous taglines along with what the small business owner can learn from them.

Just Do It. I likely don’t have to tell you who this tagline belongs to, because it is widely recognized all over the world as belonging to sports giant Nike. However, many people don’t think about the true meaning of these three words or their effect on the company’s success. Nike tries to portray an active image, as seen in their iconic Swoosh logo. ‘Just Do it’ not only compliments the existing branding, it adds a sense of urgency that many customers have been unable to resist.

Fair and Balanced. Regardless of whether you personally agree that Fox News embodies these characteristics, they nonetheless are congruent with the brand image that the cable news station is trying to portray. Not only does this tagline give Fox News a boost in credibility, it implies that the competition is lacking these traits. Being different from the crowd has kept this company alive for decades, and this tagline alone can take them into the future.

Eat Fresh. When evaluating this tagline, it’s important to keep in mind what Subway is trying to offer: a healthier, fresher alternative to conventional fast food. This tagline says it all in two short and memorable words, making it a successful and appropriate part of the Subway brand.

What Happens in Vegas, Stays in Vegas. Many people don’t realize that this well known and often copied tagline was created by the Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority. When the city had poor luck promoting itself as a family-friendly vacation destination, the board decided to play on Sin City’s appeal as a place to shed your everyday values. The message is clear: that visitors can discretely partake of the many vices available in Las Vegas without repercussion.

Buyer Be Happy. This is the new tagline of Best Buy, but how effective will it be? It relates very little to the store’s branding of being a superstore for the technologically savvy. Nor does it relate to the big screen televisions and five dollar movies that make up the products. Further, this tagline sounds suspicious like the old caveat ‘buyer beware’. While this twist on words was almost certainly deliberate, it may conjure up an unpleasant image for the customer. However, Best Buy has a history of focusing on consumer happiness with their tagline, as this new one replaced the former ‘You Happier’ that was inappropriate. This store has seen amazing success, but it truly could do better.

What do all successful taglines have in common? They are short, catchy, and representative of the company they portray. The same advantages that multi-national corporations get from tag-lines can be bestowed on any small business that chooses to use this brand aspect to further define themselves in the eyes of the customer.

Whether you’re creating a new tagline or changing it to be more effective, you might want to use the following tips:

  1. Highlight your key benefits. In most situations, a tagline is just a creative and concise way of conveying to customers your key benefits. Capture the unique experience and emotions you want your customers to feel.
  2. Add your company or product name. Established brands have the right not to use this approach. However, this is very crucial for small businesses to increase the customer recall rate quickly.
  3. Maintain it. You should not use numerous taglines for different marketing campaigns because it will definitely confuse your target consumers. The success of a tagline is also dependent on your consistency and willingness to use it for a long period of time. Also, don’t forget to protect your tagline with a trademark.

You can also check the Lonely Marketer and Living Light for examples of worst taglines in the market today.

5 Tips for Small Business Taglines

Do you have a small business without a tagline? It’s not unusual for owners to neglect this one very important aspect of branding. If you have a logo, a brand, a website, and a range of products, this may be the missing link that pulls it all together. While every tagline is different, here are a few basic rules for writing one that works for you and your business and some information on the effective use of slogans in logo design.

Keep it short. One short line should do well; anything more becomes tedious and difficult to add to business cards and signs. You don’t have to use a complete sentence; a tagline is merely a short phrase that you would want people to conjure up when they think of your business. Adjectives and excessive punctuation logos merely detract from the purpose, so keep it as short as you can make it, under ten words at the very most. Consider the Altoids tagline: ‘Curiously strong’. In two words, this company communicates everything you need to know about their mints.

Evoke an image. Many people are visual thinkers and need something they can actually picture in order for a tagline to be effective. Your tagline will be most effective if it conjures up an image of customers doing something concrete, hopefully doing that something using a product bought from your business. HP does a great job of creating a very vivid image and a call to action in one word: ‘Invent’.

Be descriptive. This can be difficult to do in the relatively short amount of space available, but nonetheless, it is very important. A tagline that describes the chief benefit of the product, the one thing that truly sets it apart, will be a huge success. The M&M’s tagline is a great example of this because people know exactly what the company means when they say ‘Melts in your mouth, not in your hands’.

Ask around. There was a time when Jimmy Dean’s tagline was ‘Eat Jimmy Dean’. While the double meaning is humorous, it was not intended and certainly did not add to the brand. It’s easy to see how a misstatement like this might get in the way of company success, which is why it is so important for you to show your tagline to several different people before unveiling any tagline. Asking a few people should prevent catastrophic errors like this from sabotaging your brand.

Stay with the brand. It’s important that your tagline fit in with your brand and compliment it because it will be associated with your brand just as much as your logo. In fact, many companies actually use their tagline in their logo. Nike’s well-known swoosh is one of the most memorable logos on the planet, but not nearly as recognizable as their ‘Just Do It’ tagline. When your customers cannot see your logo without thinking of your tagline, you will know you have found success.

To slogan or not to slogan. A tagline is an important part of your brand, so give it the thought and creativity that the process deserves. The perfect tagline will resonate with your audience and make your business’s core values known to potential customers. There is no way to overestimate the effect that this can have on the success of your small business.

Mash Bonigala

Mash B. is the Founder & CEO of SpellBrand. Since 1998, Mash has helped conscious brands differentiate themselves and AWAKEN through Brand Strategy and Brand Identity Design. Schedule a Brand Strategy Video Call with Mash.