Monday, June 7, 2010

Do Taglines Work?

Every company hopes to create an advertising tagline for their product or service that stands the test of time, but, does every company really need one? The tagline immediately identifies, to a consumer, what a company believes and stands for. It is also the greatest extension of a brand in terms of memorability, sometimes the tagline becomes better known than the brand. This is where defining a tagline becomes important.

Well known brands are often the most successful on creating long-term and memorable taglines. After all, they are playing off the strength of the brand to help define their position in the market. For a small or mid-size business, implementing a strong tagline with the launch of their brand makes good sense. A good strong brand should always guide the consumer, not let the consumer guide them. Since these "smaller" companies are relatively unknown, the tagline also helps to immediately define the brand.

Philadelphia's N.W. Ayer & Son was behind one that may last, well, forever. Frances Gerety, a copywriter for the now-defunct agency, coined "A Diamond is Forever" in 1948 for Johannesburg, South Africa, diamond company DeBeers.

That memorable tagline and 24 others were among the best-ever advertising taglines as rated by a group of 10 CMOs and advertising experts. Many of the "best" taglines were created years, if not decades, ago when it was easier for advertisers to make a big splash. Engine USA CEO Martin Puris, a longtime ad executive and one of the tagline judges, has recalled that the tagline his former agency, Ammirati & Puris, created in 1971 for BMW--"The Ultimate Driving Machine"--was launched as part of an $800,000 magazine campaign.

Oregon-based athletic apparel manufacturer Nike in 1988 introduced a tagline that has since become the rallying cry for all athletes. Three simple words that would eventually hold great meaning: "Just Do It." Created by ad agency Wieden + Kennedy, the tagline, along with the Nike "swoosh," now represent Nike. The tagline was unique for its time in that it acknowledged that Nike products could only go so far--consumers first had to be ready to make the lifestyle changes athletic activity entails.

Sometimes the best tagline is one that tells you in no uncertain terms what the product does. Take, for instance, Mars' M&Ms chocolates. The company's famous "The milk chocolate melts in your mouth, not in your hand," slogan was created in 1954 by ad agency Bates & Co. As you might expect, M&Ms were, as advertised, a less messy chocolate treat than some of the others available on the market. This was especially attractive to families who didn't want to clean chocolate hand prints off their walls.

What makes taglines like the ones above so timeless? Sometimes, it's when a tagline can transcend generations and make a strong emotional connection. "Case in point: How often have you heard someone yelling in a cell phone, "Can you hear me now?!" They made their point and you got the connection. And, yes, it is a Verizon phone."

Our favorite, "Your brand, inspired." created by the award winning advertising agency, Glint. You can see more of the most memorable taglines ever created by clicking here.

We welcome your comments and look forward to helping our partners create inspired brands that transcend time. Visit us online at or call us at 817-616-0320 to learn more about our approach to taglines and branding.

Adapted from Forbes, Ken Bruno, 05.29.10, 10:00 AM EDT post.

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