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A Guide to Creating a Tagline for Your Company

Taglines and brand recognition go hand-in-hand. Some of the best taglines for many successful brands make consumers instantly think of the brand. When done well, they can foster trust, inspire a mood or capture the uniqueness of a product. Learn more about creating a tagline to build brand awareness for your business no matter how big or small your organization is.

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What is a tagline?

A tagline is a short sentence or phrase that quickly captures the attention of consumers and conveys a message about your company. It boils down to the essence of your brand and what differentiates it from your competitors in just a few words. Your tagline becomes your company’s catchphrase and eventually synonymous with your brand.

Your company’s tagline isn’t a mission statement or the promise your business makes to consumers. However, there’s a close relationship between a mission statement and these sorts of brand guarantees. While a mission statement is an exhaustive look into the values of your company, a tagline distills that intention and energy into a quick, concise message. Rather than focusing on the details, strive to capture the feelings.

Why your company needs a powerful tagline

Developing a great tagline helps your customers relate to your brand as more than a faceless provider of goods and services. It’s a way to communicate what your brand is about in a short, memorable phrase. When done well, it can get stuck in your customers’ minds, which can encourage them to frequent your business.

What goes into an effective tagline?

If you look at hundreds of taglines, you’ll likely see a wide variety of results. So what makes a tagline effective? And what should you include in yours? Here are some common characteristics that can make a tagline work well:

  • Short: A tagline doesn’t need to cover every aspect of your business or fully explain your philosophy. It should be short, sweet and easily digestible.
  • Memorable: Since you only have a few words to work with, make sure everyone counts. Your tagline should be memorable for its creativity, its uniqueness or another aspect that makes it stick in your mind.
  • Reflective of your brand: Your tagline should reflect the heart of your brand. It should make it easy to understand your brand’s personality, whether that’s upscale and formal or young and carefree.
  • Customer-centric: Even though your tagline is about your company, it should focus on the customer and what you can do for them. An example is Subway’s “Eat Fresh” tagline. It reflects the company’s use of fresh ingredients, but it also focuses on the customer enjoying the fresh food options.
  • Clear and concise: Creativity makes your tagline unique, but you don’t want to be so creative that the average person doesn’t get it. Keep your messaging clear and concise so consumers understand it immediately.
  • Emotional connection: A successful tagline or slogan should touch the emotions of your customers and express what your company or product can do for them.

Creating a tagline for your business

Ready to start creating a tagline for your company? A brainstorming session with several team members could be just what you need to get things rolling. Collaborating on the project helps present different perspectives and lets people build off each other’s ideas to come up with the perfect phrase. The following questions can help kick off your tagline creation efforts:

  1. What’s our promise?
  2. How do we help people?
  3. Who’s our customer?
  4. Who’s our competition?
  5. How can we say this simply?

1. What’s our promise?

Review your company’s mission statement and think about the promise you make to your customers. Does your business strive to be reliable, innovative, less expensive, faster or customer-focused? Maybe you use a century-old recipe and your promise is that your product won’t ever change.

Then, look for words or phrases that distill this feeling in the simplest form possible. Don’t worry about grammar or forming complete sentences. Instead, focus on generating ideas and associations that can help you develop a great tagline.

2. How do we help people?

Think about how your company or product helps people or other businesses. Does it make life easier or more enjoyable? Write down all the ways you help as well as any statements your business makes relating to them. From here, follow the same process as you did with your company’s promise and think of individual words that describe it.

If your business is growing, consider your entire range of services or products. What value are you delivering to your customers? Think about what your products mean to people in their day-to-day lives, and list all the positive adjectives you can think of that relate to the core promise.

3. Who’s our customer?

Study your target audience to understand your customers and their demographics. Are they a distinct or wider group? What are their needs, concerns and priorities? Maybe you focus on younger customers and sell sustainability as a large part of your brand. Or perhaps you target busy, professional working moms who need solutions to make life more manageable. If you’ve already developed customer personas for your marketing campaigns, pull those up to look for key characteristics.

Think about the pain points and emotions those customers have. Explore words and phrases that are meaningful to them or to which they can connect. This can help you find more verbiage to use in your tagline.

4. Who’s our competition?

Knowing your competition well is important for creating a tagline that’s different. Look at your competition and their taglines or slogans for direct inspiration as well as to find what to avoid. Think of how they arrived at their choices of words and overall message. Identify the ways your company is different from other businesses and convey that in your tagline. Ensure your tagline sounds distinct from your competitor and larger brands around the country that your customers are likely to know.

5. How can we say this simply?

Your initial tagline ideas may be lengthy or wordy. That’s perfectly fine. Once you have the essence of what you want to say, you can simplify your message to make it a more effective tagline. Put yourself in your customer’s shoes, and ask yourself what would stand out to you.

Sometimes, the best taglines have nothing to do with the product at all, yet they convey a sense of trust, accountability or the spirit of the company. Boil it down to five sentences, and then shorten it to one sentence. When you’re happy with that, remove all unnecessary words to simplify it even more.

Tips for creating a tagline

Think of taglines that inspire you. Nike’s “Just Do It” slogan, for example, has nothing to do with shoes or apparel. Their message conveys freedom, individuality, aspiration and strength. Some of the most successful businesses use taglines that convey the benefit their product or service delivers. Some are funny, while others promise an experience. Explore how popular taglines convey the personality of the business.If you need a little more inspiration, these tips for creating a tagline may help:

  • Think about the voice: It should reflect your company as a whole. Is the voice friendly, regional, casual, authoritative, youthful or whimsical? Does it match the personality and branding of your company?
  • Say the tagline aloud: Hearing the words out loud can help you decide if they sound good.
  • Make sure it fits: Look at other parts of your branding, such as your logo and phrasing on marketing materials. Ensure the tagline works well with the style and voice of those established brand materials.
  • Testtaglines with people you trust: This is a good way to make sure the tagline is clear and appealing to a broad audience outside of the company. You can ask others in your field, personal acquaintances, other business owners or loyal customers.
  • Take your time: Don’t rush it if you don’t have to because it’s important that you feel good about it. Finding the perfect mix of words can take time. Taglines don’t usually change, so waiting until you find one that fits well is ideal.

FAQs about creating a tagline

Why do most companies use taglines?

Taglines, sometimes called slogans, have been around for over a hundred years. Their purpose is to connect consumers with brands using a few keywords. While most people can’t or won’t memorize your entire mission statement, they’ll remember a good tagline. Taglines tell your customer who you are.

How long should my tagline be?

A tagline should be short enough that it can be absorbed instantly by the reader. For the most part, this means six to eight words at the most. Ideally, the words themselves will be short enough that little eye movement is necessary to read the whole message.

What should a tagline include?

A tagline should convey an idea that’s central to your brand in a way that’s immediately clear to readers. The message needs to be specific and unique. It should also avoid excess verbiage, which ruins its effectiveness.

What are the best taglines?

While there are no obvious criteria to deem one tagline the best, several stand out as ubiquitous and iconic in pop culture. Nike’s “Just Do It,” Apple’s “Think Different” and L’Oreal’s “Because You’re Worth It” are just a few taglines that are deeply embedded in American popular culture. These and other similar taglines are the best because they communicate a single, powerful message clearly and concisely.

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