What are Taglines, and How Can I Make Mine Stand Out?

Do you feel like your customers aren’t connecting to your brand? 

A tagline may be just the thing you need to fix that. 

In a nutshell, a tagline is a phrase (or two) that highlights what a company does, emphasizes a value or trait, or helps to clarify your brand’s mission. 

These can be an important part of your brand’s identity; think of McDonald’s “I’m lovin’ it” or Nike’s “Just do it.” These phrases are almost, if not equally, as iconic as the famous golden arches and the well-known swoosh.

And, just like Nike and McDonald’s, you can use a tagline to enrich your brand’s image. A tagline performs a variety of functions that are essential to propelling your brand forward; in just a few words, you can elevate your brand above the competition and grab your audience’s attention by telling the world who you are and what you care about.

How do I Know I Need a Tagline?

This is an important question, as not all businesses do! Some companies, like Facebook and Starbucks, for example, have achieved success without touting a clear or consistent official tagline. 

That being said, a tagline can be a valuable part of any branding strategy. A catchy slogan is particularly effective for small businesses and startups that want to spread awareness and information about their brand. 

To determine whether your company needs a tagline, think about the three W’s: Who, What, and Why. Who is your company? What does it do? Why does it do it?

 If the answers to these questions aren’t already made clear to your intended audience through your business name or logo, you should probably start thinking of a tagline.

By clueing people in to your company’s product and purpose, you can grab the attention of the right customers–people who are drawn to your brand precisely because of who you are, what you do, and why you do it.

6 Different Types of Taglines

There are a lot of approaches you can take to your tagline, depending on your marketing goals. 

If you think it’s most important to share information about your products or services, for example, then that information should be in your tagline. On the other hand, if you strongly believe in a set of values, and you feel that your audience will connect with those values, then your tagline should focus on your company’s purpose, principles, and ideals.

We’ve narrowed it down to 6 different types of taglines–with accompanying examples from famous brands–to guide you in your own tagline creation.

Keep in mind that while most taglines are able to serve several purposes (a differentiation tagline, for example, can also be an informational tagline), a great tagline doesn’t try to tackle too much at once.

Here are 6 types of taglines to help your brand stand out! 

1. The differentiation tagline

The differentiation tagline is a slogan intended to make your company stand out from the competition. You can think of a differentiation tagline as a phrase that answers the question, “What makes my company different from the others?” 

An example of an effective differentiation tagline is the New York Times slogan “All the news that’s fit to print.” 

This tagline helps the New York Times stand out from all the tabloid stories that dominate many news sources. In contrast to sensationalist writing and clickbait, the New York Times uses its slogan to promise quality, well-researched, and credible journalism.

2. The informational tagline

An informational tagline explains exactly what your business does. If you have a small business that’s relatively unknown, or a generic company name that doesn’t say much about your business, an informational tagline can be a useful way to tell people what you do.

BMW’s timeless slogan “The ultimate driving machine” emphasizes straightforward information above all else. The tagline communicates precisely what the company produces–powerful, high-quality cars.

3. The results-oriented tagline

The results-oriented tagline is one that emphasizes the good results of your product or service.

This type of tagline focuses not on what your company does, but instead on what your company does for your audience. In other words, it offers your audience an incentive to engage with your company from the get-go. 

Wheaties’ well-known tagline “Breakfast of champions” implies that eating their cereal for breakfast will give you energy and strength. The cereal’s slogan draws from the commonly accepted notion that breakfast is the most important meal of the day, and solidifies its messaging with images of athletes on the box.

Image source: Wheaties.com

4. The value-focused tagline

As we touched on in the beginning of this post, the value-focused tagline helps to market a company based on its greater mission, principles, or purpose. 

This particular tagline type doesn’t necessarily explain a company’s product or results. Instead, it appeals to its audience by detailing what the company cares about and showing the good it does for the world. 

The Mosaic Company, a fertilizer producer, touts the effective value-focused tagline “We help the world grow the food it needs.” 

Without such a tagline, it’s likely that any business in the fertilizer industry would be boring and unrelatable to most audiences. But, by communicating how it helps individuals and society at large, the company makes itself directly relevant to its audience’s lives.

Note that value-focused taglines are effective largely because of the emotions they evoke in their audiences; a value-driven tagline is powerful in that it can turn disinterested audiences into avid supporters.

Image source: Mosaicco.com

Without such a tagline, it’s likely that any business in the fertilizer industry would be boring and unrelatable to most audiences. But, by communicating how it helps individuals and society at large, the company makes itself directly relevant to its audience’s lives.

Note that value-focused taglines are effective largely because of the emotions they evoke in their audiences; a value-driven tagline is powerful in that it can turn disinterested audiences into avid supporters.

5. The audience-targeted tagline

Some companies opt for audience-targeted taglines–phrases that emphasize the intended audience over the company itself.

A tagline that directly refers to its target audience shows consumers whether a brand is relevant to them; it makes the right consumers think, Hey, I’m part of that crowd. Maybe this product is for me.

Razor company Gillette employs the audience-targeted tagline “The best a man can get.” Not only does it literally speak to men, but it also connotes masculine ideals. The notion of being your best – good-looking, confident, and successful – appeals to many men’s notions of masculinity.

Although met with some controversy, they’ve also used this tagline to make a point about what it means to be masculine in today’s world, and challenged their audience to strive for “The best a man can be.” You can check out their campaign here: 

Keep in mind that if your audience is broad, an audience-targeted tagline might not be right for you (and could even serve to alienate potential customers that don’t feel your tagline includes them). However, if your product is more niche or appeals to a very specific community, this type of tagline is effective in drawing that community to your brand.

6. The "brand awareness" tagline

Some taglines’ primary purpose is to promote brand awareness. 

A brand awareness tagline can achieve this by directly mentioning the company’s name. This type of tagline can also take the form of a short, catchy phrase that consumers immediately associate with the brand.

Dunkin’ Donuts’s brand awareness tagline “America runs on Dunkin” is catchy and simple, like a short jingle that rarely leaves your head. 

On top of that, the slogan directly reinforces the brand’s name. By combining these two elements, the tagline successfully achieves its main purpose–to solidify the awareness of its brand and establish it as an essential American institution.

Image source: Dunkindonuts.com

How to Come Up with a Killer Tagline

By referencing these examples of different tagline types, you can get a better sense of what you want your own tagline to achieve.

As you consider which type of tagline is right for you, here are some tips to guide your brainstorming process:

Tip #1: Evaluate your brand image.

If your company already has a clear brand image, language, or logo, focus on those elements to make your tagline consistent with your brand. Your tagline should reinforce your brand’s image, not muddle or undermine it.

Tip #2: Determine what your tagline will accomplish.

Think about why you’re creating a tagline in the first place. Is it to show people why your company is different? To inform people about what your company does? As you write your tagline, don’t stray from your intended purpose; focus on the message you want to deliver.

Tip #3: Keep it simple.

A catchy tagline is a simple tagline. Prioritize your primary purpose rather than squeezing in too much; you want your audience to remember your tagline, whether consciously or not, and a complicated sentence runs the risk of becoming forgetful fast.  

In contrast, keeping your tagline simple will deliver your message with a punch while retaining the focus of your audience.

Tip #4: Evoke emotion.

A good slogan makes your audience feel something. Use words that evoke emotions like confidence or nostalgia. When appropriate, try adding humor to make your audience laugh, but only if this is consistent with your brand voice

Remember, your tagline should enhance the overall picture your audience has of your brand – not confuse it. 

Tip #5: Make it timeless.

Don’t use words or references that will make your tagline obsolete in five years from now. Things like “woke,” and “YOLO,” definitely don’t belong; words like “help,” “achieve,” and “trust“ have a chance of making a long-lasting impact. 

Aim to create a tagline that stays relevant for years to come, with it being catchy and simple enough to become a timeless classic.

Over to You

Whether you choose to focus on your products, values, or audience, remember: Your tagline, brand name, and logo form an inseparable trio that becomes a core part of your brand’s identity and messaging. 

As you’re brainstorming tagline ideas, try to come up with a phrase that will transcend generations, and that you’d be proud to associate with your brand far into the future.