The Tagline Fixation – Part 2

In a previous post about the Tagline Fixation I gave some suggestions for developing an effective tagline, if you feel you really need one.  I just had an exchange on a LinkedIn group with a marketing executive in Finland who had posted about his recent experience developing a tagline for his company.

The company, called Spinfy, creates interactive digital stories for children.  With the help of the company’s ad agency, they created the tagline “Stories at Your Fingertips”.  I pointed out that this tagline could be true of any story, whether in hardcopy or digital form.  I felt the tagline failed to reflect the company’s unique selling proposition (USP), which I believe is the interactive nature of the product.  Knowing full well the danger of suggesting taglines without the background of the company’s value proposition, customers, competitors, etc., I did it anyway and gave three suggestions primarily for directional purposes: “Be Part of the Story”, “Where Stories Come Alive” (a phrase the marketer used in describing the company in his blog post), and “Stories with a Twist, Shake and Tap”.

His response was very interesting and prompted me to write this article with more suggestions for tagline development.  He said “Where Stories Come Alive” was used on their web site before but the ad agency deemed it to be too long. He cited the current trend of two and three word taglines (“Connecting People” and “Just Do It!) in questioning the word count of my suggestions.

I would agree that brevity is a desirable and important trait for a tagline.  You obviously don’t want the tagline to be a paragraph!  But communicating your company’s unique value should not be a slave to brevity.  I would rather take four, five or six words to convey the value the company provides than take two or three words and miss the mark.

The fallacy of the two or three word tagline is that everyone points to well-known companies who do this, but they fail to recognize or mention that these companies spend tens and hundreds of millions of dollars a year on advertising.  My favorite is “Just Do It!”.  When Nike started using the tagline in the late 1980s, it could have been used by any sports apparel or footwear company.  In fact, it could have been used by a home improvement center, craft store, exercise equipment manufacturer, etc. just as effectively.  By using the line consistently for decades and investing billions on dollars in communicating it, the company has created a mantra that has been ingrained in our brains.

Unless your company name says what the company does or your company is already so well established that everyone knows it, the very short tagline often does not communicate much.  How about AT&T’s “Rethink Possible”?  If an unknown company started using this tagline, it would communicate nothing.

In defense of longer taglines, I can point to many fairly long taglines that have been successful, such as:  “We Bring Good Things to Life”, “Get a Piece of the Rock”, “Melts in Your Mouth, Not in Your Hand”, “When It Positively, Absolutely Has to be There Overnight”.  Maybe saying more in your tagline will differentiate you from competitors.

Some Other Suggestions about Taglines

Deadlines – While deadlines motivate us to get things done, they can result in getting things done and not necessarily getting the best result.  If a tagline is implemented correctly, you have to live with it for a long time.  You should make sure it is the best.

Trademark Search  – Before you roll out your new tagline, check that it is not registered by another company.  The last thing you want is to start over after the time and expense of implementing a new tagline, plus face a possible lawsuit from the company on whose trademark you infringed.

Test – What really matters is what customers and prospects think of your tagline.  You can test a tagline by settling on three possible taglines, all of which you would be happy with, and letting customers vote on the one they like best.  This could be done on your company’s Facebook page.  Results will reflect how customers view the brand and will create engagement with the customer base.

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