6 Tips to Create a Tagline That Really Works

You may not realize it, but your tagline is essentially the first and most important advertisement you’ll ever place. A great tagline will help convey a company’s personality and benefits in one tidy little phrase. Most importantly, a great tagline will help customers connect to your business at an emotional level, which is more than what your logo can do alone.

Taglines have been called many things through the years – slogans, catchphrases, trademark – whatever you call it, the idea behind it is the same. A tagline is a short phrase that tells the customer what you offer.

So what makes a tagline great? What makes something like “Just Do It” one of the most memorable marketing slogans in the world while a million other phrases are instantly forgotten? Here are six things to keep in mind as you create a tagline for your business:

1. What’s your mission?

When you start the process of crafting a tagline, you may be tempted to go for something that you think is clever or cool or funny. While that may seem like a good idea initially, it’s probably an area that you’re going to want to stay away from. Start out by defining who you are as a business and what your purpose is.

People don’t have time to try and figure out who you are and what you do – don’t be clever, be clear with your tagline. Wal-Mart’s “Save Money. Live Better.” is a great example of a tagline that tells you exactly what you can expect from the business it represents. Take a page out of Wal-Mart’s playbook and tell your customers what you do.

2. What’s the benefit?

Speaking of Wal-Mart’s tagline, not only does it tell you what their mission is, but it tells you what the benefit is in just 4 little words. When I read “Save Money. Live Better.”, it tells me that by spending my money with Wal-Mart, I’m going to be able to keep just a little bit extra in my pocket for the things that really will make life better.

The city of Las Vegas highlights the benefit in their tagline as well: “What happens here, stays here.” lets every potential visitor know that if they want to go a little crazy, Las Vegas is the place to do it. When creating a tagline for your business, really think about what the most important thing people get from your product or brand is and start there.

3. Tie it to your brand

If you want your tagline to really resonate, it needs to reflect your brand. What are the core values and beliefs of your business? What is your company’s personality? What do you want people to remember about your business or product? Your tagline is going to be much more effective if it relates to your overall brand messaging.

Disneyland’s slogan “The happiest place on earth” is a perfect example of a tagline that really encapsulates the brand. Disney is all about bringing magic and happiness to people, so why wouldn’t their theme park be the happiest place on earth?

4. Keep it simple

Above almost anything, you want your tagline to be memorable, and that’s hard to do if you’ve crafted a paragraph to describe your business. The best taglines are short and sweet and are easy to digest. Whether your customers are reading your tagline in a magazine ad, on a billboard or on your storefront or whether they are hearing it in a commercial or from a salesperson, you want that tagline to be simple enough for people to remember.

With that in mind, there is no hard a fast rule about the length your tagline should be, but try to keep it under 7 words for the best opportunity for recall.

Note that Geico’s “15 minutes could save you 15% or more on car insurance” is a very famous example of a very long tagline. Unless you have a marketing budget the size of Geico’s, it’s probably best to stay away from taglines that are this wordy.

5. Make it sticky

When I say “make it sticky”, I don’t mean that you should pour honey all over your tagline (although I suppose that is an option if you like to take things literally.) What I mean is that you need to make your tagline memorable. Keeping it short is the first step in creating a memorable tagline, but there are other things you can do to help your slogan stick in people’s brains:

  • Make it command (Just do it or Eat fresh.)
  • Be repetitive (There’s strong, then there’s Army strong.)
  • Play with pneumonic devices (Every kiss begins with K)
  • Ask a question (What’s in your wallet? Or Can you hear me now?)

Whatever you choose to go with, just make sure it sticks in your head first and then introduce it to others.

6. Test, test and re-test

Which brings me to my last point – as any good marketer or scientist knows, the best way to be sure about something is to test it out. Once you’ve settled on one (or a handful) of great taglines, try them out on a few people to see what they think. If you have the time and resources, put together a research panel to get some real-time feedback about your tagline options.

Just know that there is a limit to the amount of research and opinions that will be helpful. Don’t let yourself get wrapped into analysis paralysis where you are so tied to the data that you can’t make a decision. To create a really great tagline, you need to trust your research, but more importantly, trust your gut.

Need some tagline inspiration? Here are 25 of the most influential taglines ever:

  • “Got milk?” – California Milk Processor Board
  • “Just do it” – Nike
  • “A diamond is forever.” – DeBeers
  • “There are some things money can’t buy. For everything else, there’s MasterCard.” – MasterCard
  • “That was easy.” – Staples
  • “The few, the proud, the Marines.” – The United States Marines
  • “They’re g-r-r-r-eat!” – Frosted Flakes
  • “Have it your way.” – Burger King
  • “Think outside the bun.” – Taco Bell
  • “Pork. The other white meat.” – National Pork Board
  • “Like a rock.” – Chevy Trucks
  • “The fabric of our lives.” – Cotton Incorporated
  • “It keeps going, and going, and going…” – Duracell
  • “Are you in good hands?” – AllState
  • “It gives you wings.” – Red Bull
  • “Snap, Crackle, Pop.” – Rice Krispies
  • “Melts in your mouth. Not in your hands.” – M&M’s
  • “Good to the last drop.” – Maxwell House
  • “Only you can prevent forest fires.” – S. Forest Service
  • “Think small.” – Volkswagen
  • “The king of beers.” – Budweiser
  • “Because I’m worth it.” – Loreal
  • “I’m lovin’ it.” – McDonald’s
  • “Think different.” – Apple
  • “Where’s the beef?” – Wendy’s