Creating Great Brand Taglines: The Art & Science

What are Company Taglines?

A brand tagline is more than just a few words – it's a powerful encapsulation of a brand's essence. The tagline is the most simplistic form of a brand’s identity. Crafting a great tagline requires a blend of creativity and strategy, as well as a deep understanding of the brand and its audience. Crafting a memorable and impactful tagline is essential for supporting a strong brand identity and leaving a lasting impression on your audience.

A great example is the new tagline for Hertz rental cars, “Let’s go!”. I am not a Hertz loyalist, nor do I rent a lot of cars. However, when I first heard the new tagline it immediately resonated with me as a consumer. It was like hearing “Just do it.”  for the first time. These taglines have all of the 7 essential elements listed below.

Expert Quote -

Great taglines are so simple, yet so complex. Just a few words can define and differentiate a brand for life.

- Ryan Goan

Getting Started

Before you begin developing a tagline, it's crucial to have an in-depth understanding of your brand's vision and values, purpose and promise, as well as a deep understanding of the consumer and competition. Consider what sets your brand apart and what it stands for.

7 Essential Elements of a Great Business Tagline

1. Be Unique and Memorable, Catchy and Clever

Skittles Taglines - flyte new mediaA tagline should set the brand apart from its competitors and be easily remembered. It must be distinctive and capture attention in a crowded marketplace. No ordinary collection of words will make a lasting impression in your audience’s memory. The words must be carefully selected and interact with each other well whether through rhyming, alliteration, phonetic, or emotional appeal.

Hit: Skittles – Taste the Rainbow. This tagline is fresh and unexpected. It’s catchy and clever, keeping it in the consumers memory.          

Miss: Coca-Cola – Open Happiness. For a brand as universal and progressive as Coca-Cola, this tagline falls flat. While there is nothing wrong with it, it lacks uniqueness and memorability.   

2. Be Clear and Concise

Nike Taglines - flyte new mediaA great tagline is clear, concise, and easy to understand. It should convey the core message or benefit of your brand in just a few words. Avoid using complex language or industry jargon that may confuse your audience. Make it easy for the audience to grasp the brand's purpose and promise.

Hit: Nike – Just Do It. Clear and concise, as close to a perfect tagline as it gets.

Miss:  Harley Davidson- All for Freedom. Freedom for All.  For such an iconic brand, this tagline misses the mark. It’s a bit cumbersome and hard to remember. 

3. Communicate Benefits

Subway Taglines - flyte new mediaYour company tagline should communicate the key benefits or solutions that your brand offers to its customers. Focus on how your brand makes a positive impact or solves a problem for your target audience.

Hit: Subway – Eat Fresh. The simplicity of this tagline perfectly positions and differentiates the benefits of the brand.  

Miss: Air BnB – Belong Anywhere. This tagline is trying too hard. While attempting to appeal to the modern consumer with abstract emotion, it fails to communicate any real benefit.

4. Evoke Emotion

Allstate Taglines - flyte new mediaAn effective brand tagline resonates with your audience on an emotional level. It should evoke feelings, aspirations, or experiences that connect with your customers and leave a long-lasting impression. Whether it's through humor, inspiration, or empathy, a tagline that stirs emotions is more likely to be remembered.

Hit: Allstate – You’re In Good Hands. This tagline evokes an emotional response. Perfect.

Miss: Walmart – Save Money. Live Better. This mundane tagline completely lacks emotion. For a company like Walmart that plays such a significant role in the lives of consumers, this is a missed opportunity.   

5. Differentiate Your Brand

BMW Taglines - flyte new mediaHighlight what makes your brand unique and distinct from competitors. Use your tagline to showcase your brand's personality, values, or a competitive advantage that sets you apart in the marketplace.

Hit: BMW – The Ultimate Driving Machine. BMW has a clear understanding of what differentiates their brand in the mind of their target audience.

Miss: Ford – Go Further. Ford is an iconic American brand with loads of brand differentiators. This vague tagline fails to leverage any of them.

6. Value

Target Taglines - flyte new mediaThe value proposition of the brand cannot be different just for the sake of being different. The audience needs to associate real value with the brand, and that value will motivate desire for the brand’s products or services.

Hit: Target – Expect More. Pay Less. A well-crafted tagline, conveying a solid understanding of their customers definition of value.    

Miss: Dollar Shave Club – Shave Time. Shave Money. A clever way to convey value but the  pun heavy tagline just doesn’t cut it 😉  

7. Stay Timeless

Disney Taglines - flyte new mediaA timeless tagline can withstand the test of time and remain relevant as your brand evolves. Avoid using trendy phrases or references that may become outdated, ensuring that your tagline maintains its impact for years to come. Creating a tagline that withstands the test of time is no easy feat, but it is essential for fostering long-term brand recognition. While trends come and go, a timeless tagline remains relevant year after year.

Hit: Disney – The Happiest Place on Earth. No matter the time, who doesn’t want to visit the happiest place on earth.

Miss: Chick-fil-A – Eat Mor Chikin. This tagline may have been clever when it was first created, but in today’s world it may be culturally and socially questionable.   

Test and Refine

Once you have developed several potential taglines, test them with your target audience and against the 7 elements outlined above. Gather feedback from the consumer and key decision makers to determine which tagline resonates the most and best represents your brand. Refine as needed to ensure it is as unique and impactful as possible.

In Conclusion

A company tagline is not just a clever collection of words that sounds good. It has a job to do. Great taglines are a combination of art and science. They require creativity, insight, and an understanding of the brand, it’s competitors, and its audience. When done right, a tagline can elevate a brand, leaving a lasting impression in the minds of consumers.

By following these guidelines and putting careful thought into your company’s tagline, you can create a powerful and memorable expression of your brand's identity that resonates with your audience and helps establish a strong brand identity.

Take Our Brand Tagline Quiz

Can you guess the 10 companies by their tagline?

  1. Think Different.
  2. Have It Your Way.
  3. Finger Lickin’ Good.
  4. What’s In Your Wallet?
  5. I’m Lovin’ It!
  6. Don’t Leave Home Without It.
  7. The Quicker Picker Upper.
  8. Let’s Go Places.
  9. Like A Good Neighbor.
  10. Easy, breezy, beautiful…

(scroll down for answers!)

Expert Quote - Ryan Goan

Ryan is responsible for working with clients to help them design a successful web presence. Working in design studios from New York City to Portland, Ryan brings over 24 years of design experience to flyte. His diverse design background brings a fresh approach to each new project.

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