Not everybody requires or desires a tag line for their company or business. Some people are even unsure what a tag line actually is… it is simply an extra bit, like a sub heading, added to your company or business name and it can be a really good tool to have. For example, many brands use their tag line to base their advertising campaigns on. An example of this is the fast-food giant Mac Donalds often using ‘I’m Loving it’, or the confectionary classic, Mars with ‘A Mars a day helps you Work, Rest and Play!’ Tag lines are like slogans and are used for lots of things… in films, for products, even some famous personalities coin tag lines or tag phrases i.e Peter Andre ‘Insania’, Bruce Forsyth ‘Nice to see you, to see you nice.’ Tag lines can really help your brand stick in people’s minds!
Where To Start… I consult with companies all the time, helping them choose or decide on branding, including tag lines… So where do you start? The first thing you have to establish is whether you actually need a tag line. The rule is not to create a tag line for no reason. Topshop is a well regarded high street brand that does not carry a tag line. One reason for this is that they are so well known that a tag is not needed, and less is often more in this case.
Some things you may wish you consider at this point: Does a tag line enhance my brand name? And/or my branding as a whole? Is it clear? Does it make sense? If you do not have a tag line in mind and need some guidance or inspiration, read on…
So you have decided that a tag line is for you… now, you need to decide your purpose, what it is that you wish to gain from your tag line.
Clarity: You may have a really quirky, individual brand name that is so obscure that a tag line is vital for your audience to know what it actually is that your company/business offers. For example my previous client Duzz has the simple, self explanatory tag of ‘Concrete Remover’. Duzz alone, would cause too much confusion with the target audience. So this is well-needed description. The word ‘Duzz’ can be used as a play on words for advertising or PR purposes i.e. ‘Duzz the trick’, ‘Duzz in concrete‘ etc… So, if it is not self-explanatory with the brand name, then think of what your audience needs to know.
If you are branding yourself, for example models, actresses, writer; and you are using your name as the brand, then add clarity with a tag line by explaining what you exactly do: ‘International Model’, ‘TV & Theatre Actress’, ‘Fiction Writer’.
Expert or Benefits: You may have a great skill, or particular benefit to your brand, and wish to highlight this in your tag line. If you are an actress, you may add to your website ‘BAFTA nominated actress.’ If you have a beauty business where you travel to the clients ‘Mobile beauty service’ would highlight a benefit. A previous client of mine is Max McMurdo of Reestore, during appointment Max updated his branding with a tag line ‘evolutionary design‘. This adds another level to the brand name… it says the brand is a modern brand, with the future in mind, that it is is ever-evolving, and that the design is the most important part of the business. It gives the audience confidence that Reestore furniture is unique and has a high standard of design and quality. So for this category you maybe thinking of words like ‘specialist’, ‘award-winning’ or ‘excellence’.
Mark that Difference: In recent years more people have looked to their skills and translated those into lucrative ways of making a living. More and more people are opting to go it alone, becoming sole-traders, or developing small businesses. Whilst this is exciting news, it does mean that your market is likely to be more saturated than ever. Maybe you are a skilled hairdresser that has lost your job, how are you going to stand out from the crowd as a freelancer? Perhaps you were made redundant and you have drawn upon a creative skill in an area you are sure can make money – how about all of the other artists, musicians, chefs, designers, accountants etc out there? What makes you different? It is so important to establish your unique selling point [USP] and then allow it to follow through with your branding, PR, Marketing and advertising… Go ahead and include it in your tag. For example, if you have been practising your art or skill for many years, this can add value to your service as well as highlighting your experience. It marks a difference compared with people who are newly trained. It adds authenticity and trust to your service. Jack Daniels has been reported to be one of the best selling liquors in the world. It has a tag of ‘Tennessee Whiskey‘, this provides more information to the obscure brand name. Jack Daniels also often uses the tag “Since 1866“, this instantly adds history, trust and authenticity, and people want to find out more, they want to read about the story behind the brand, and better still they want to be apart of that brand’s history, and do so by buying it, trying it and becoming a loyal consumer. So if you are different, then mark that difference.
Short, Sweet and Witty: Lots of brands opt for a catchphrase that will stick in the consumer’s mind, and why not! – It really does seem to work, but remember that being remembered is great, but not for the annoying tag, so if you are going to use it via audio or visual media than this may be a factor you wish to consider.
Dreams is a company that sells beds, it is established and has a good reputation. The word ‘Dreams‘ gives an insight into the product or company, and it plays on the bed theme with the catchphrase ‘For a great night’s sleep‘. This also taps into the psychology of the consumer, it is persuasive as everybody wants a great night’s sleep, and it is saying that buying a bed from Dreams can help. Another tag line is ‘The Future’s Bright, The Future’s Orange‘ used by Orange Mobile, which is witty and persuasive. With an obvious play on words being ‘bright‘, referring to ‘Orange‘. The phrase is repeated, which again is persuasive. The tag includes the brand name and focuses on colour, and the well-known phrase ‘future’s bright‘.
Brand Mission: Some tags are used to extend their company or business mission, to add a little more knowledge of what they are all about. My previous brand name, Portal PR, just came to me one evening, [I will post another blog on Brand Names – so moving on to my tag]. My tag line was ‘access your success’, (Now I use this as a name of my 1-hour guidance for consultancy)… it is purposely without capital letters, as the visual of your tag is also important, and these letters are all of similar size and shape, which I like. It means each of the three words is just as important as the other two. The words access and success carry assonance, creating easy and fluid articulation, and a musical sound. They are also half rhymes, which makes the tag stick in the reader’s mind. Within the words is alliteration too, with the double use of /c/ and /s/. These two words are great together, the word success also relates to the brand name ‘Portal’ and it is exactly what my clients want when they come to me, ‘success‘. The use of ‘your’, is speaking directly to my potential clients and it speaks volumes. I am saying that it is part of my mission to help you access your success. It also has the double meaning of being cause to action [more on that in a below category], as they will be accessing their success if they book my services.
The NSPCA has a tag of ‘Confronting Cruelty’, this is a snappy message telling the reader of what they believe in as an organization, what their mission is, their ethos! The alliteration allows the phrase to remain in the mind. This also has an edge to the meaning, by them ‘confronting’ they are not turning a blind eye to the cruelty. It is persuading and empowering people to join them with their mission, as if to say ‘let’s confront this together and make a difference to end this cruelty.’ It is amazing how two words can really carry so much meaning and add weight to your brand. Think about how you can portray your mission with just a simple tag line.
Motivational or Cause for Action: This is a very clever use of a tag, and the two examples above also have a touch of motivation to them, as well as portraying the brand mission. Nike is a great example of this, with the ‘Just Do It’ tag – it has carried through with a lot of marketing, advertising, PR, logos on the products and even spin-offs i.e. the t-shirt that has a motif ‘Just Done It’ and an upside down Nike tick. Nike can use the logo tick alone or with the tag and people are still fully aware that the brand is Nike. With Nike, the tag can also be used alone, and still have direct relationship to the brand – this really demonstrates a strong tag line. ‘Just do it’ is motivating people to get up and get on with their sport, with their day and indirectly telling them to get up and buy the Nike products. Another brand that creates motivational action is L’oreal’s ‘because you’re worth it.’ This conversational phrase speaks directly to the predominantly female audience, it is saying that they deserve to use a fantastic brand like L’oreal. It is giving the audience confidence.
Personality: Like Orange Mobile, Tango, also includes it’s brand name in the tag ‘You’ve been Tangoed.’ This tag has been used a lot in advertising, attributing different activities to the word ‘Tangoed‘. This projects the fun and quirky personality of the brand. Odeon cinema has a tag ‘Fanatical about Film‘, which portrays the personality of the cinema and of the target audience – film lovers, regular movie watchers etc. This also uses the power of three, and alliteration. So you need to think about your brand’s personality and the personality of your target audience… do they match?
As touched on above, most tag lines utilize language features in order to persuade the reader, consumer or other businesses. These include alliteration [using same sounds], similes [comparison using ‘like’ or ‘as’ i.e. ‘As quiet as a mouse’, metaphors [replacement comparison, onamatopoeia [words that sound like their meaning i.e. whizz, bang, hiss].
Using first and second person pronouns are persuasive and inclusive, making the reader already feel a part of your business [i.e. you, your, we, us, our], third person is a little more detached, and be wary of the first person pronoun ‘I’ in tag lines as it can portray a self-driven, or shallow image.
Other features such as using a quote, or a dash or colon or other grammar features like a question mark or exclamation mark, can all add to you tag line. Please take heed and do not try to use all of these features in one tag line. It needs to be easily remembered, easily spelt and articulated, understood in meaning, and non-offensive. Some brands are close to the mark, especially if they have a witty tone, often this is part of the slightly controversial advertising campaign or PR plan, and of the brand’s personality… think Pot Noodle, and ‘Have you got the Pot Noodle horn?‘.
There will always be some people that dislike cheeky tag lines, just ensure you have boundaries, and that you do not alienate a potential audience or fan base, or worse still, cause damage to your brand’s reputation.
This is not an exhausted list, but hopefully it has given you some helpful pointers.
Also your tag may cross over some of the above categories [with bold titles, in this post] , which means your tag serves more than one purpose. The main point is, is that you like your tag as it will shape your brand and future possibilities.