How to better brand build with a killer tagline

AlanKaplanTNIn his latest blog, Alan Kaplan explains why brand building should be regarded as an essential activity for any organisation, whether for profit or not for profit, and why a great tagline is essential.

In his latest blog, Alan Kaplan explains why brand building should be regarded as an essential activity for any organisation, whether for profit or not for profit, and why a great tagline is essential. 

There are many facets which help shape and develop an optimal brand identity, one of which is a tagline. The stronger the synergy between a well-developed and successful brand name, logo and tagline, the better the positive impact for the brand concerned.

Taglines can be developed by crystallising an organisation’s positioning statement and/or unique offering and, when correctly developed, can be described as a phrase that best communicates the brand’s most valuable benefit to its target market.

While there are different ways of classifying taglines, many can be described as either ‘descriptive’ or ‘expressive’. “Australia’s Fresh Food People” (Woolworths) and “Because We’re Worth it” (L’Oreal) are examples of descriptive and expressive taglines, respectively, that have been modified, and that have evolved, over time.

Unlike slogans, which are tactical and generally used in short-term marketing campaigns, a tagline constitutes part of a brand building strategy, and should, ideally, be crafted with longevity in mind. Great taglines don’t only span time, but also cultures and generations. Examples of taglines that experienced longevity, recall and excellent brand association include: We Try Harder (Avis), Think Different (Apple) and Let your Fingers do the Walking (Yellow Pages).

An outstanding tagline can benefit brands in a number of ways, depending on the tagline and its objective. These include:

  • Communicating the brand’s mission, vision and brand promise in an impactful manner.
  • Promoting the brand’s key benefit, point of difference and positioning.
  • Conveying the promise of a genuine and consistent brand experience.
  • Enhancing the brand’s essence and reputation.

A major consideration in developing an outstanding tagline is that the tagline should always ensure that it is relevant to the needs and/or aspirations of the target market and not merely an instrument to convey what management believes is important from its perspective.

My experience with clients and in marketing research is that, in some instances, management is not in sync with those factors most valued by their target market, and sometimes focus on emphasising areas of lesser importance. In addition to being customer-centric most outstanding taglines are focussed and credible and in some instances create an emotional bond with their audience.

Examples of taglines with an emotional component include the highly acclaimed and inspirational Just Do It (Nike) and The Happiest Place on Earth (Disneyland). Oz Lotteries Bring Fun to Life! is another example.AlanKaplanLG

While taglines that are creative and perceptually relevant are valuable, those that are trite, or clever for their own sake (i.e. do not enhance the brand), should be avoided. When developing your brand’s tagline it is important that a holistic approach be adopted. While there are different approaches to tagline development, the following steps are recommended:

  • Commence by viewing your brand holistically and carefully defining your sectors and target market. Consider aspects such as: What is the major benefit, you believe the brand provides and what is its major point of difference?
  • Determine what you wish your tagline to express about your brand by way of knowledge, actions, feelings, associations, etc, and how this can best be attained.
  • Convey a workshop or similar to brainstorm different opinions as this relates to the last mentioned step. Generate lists of words and phrases that typify what it is you wish to convey about your brand, taking cognisance of essential aspects like the brand’s target market, positioning statement, major point of difference, and brand essence.
  • As part of the above exercise, also record any negative words or phrases that are mentioned so as to exclude them and take cognisance of taglines that competitive brands are using, to ensure that your tagline is distinctive.
  • Analyse the list and pinpoint those words and phrases that best describe the most valuable features you believe should be conveyed and compile a list of possible taglines from these words and phrases, keeping your objective in mind.
  • Shortlist the taglines you believe are the most appropriate, ensuring that the tagline is succinct, relevant (the value proposition you choose is the most valuable for your audience) and easy to understand.
  • Once a number of prospective taglines have been shortlisted to around five or six, these should, ideally, be researched amongst your target market to ascertain the optimal choice from their perspective, bearing in mind that great taglines, by and large, focus on what matters to consumers.
  • Essential areas that should be included in the marketing research include the value proposition, what each option conveys to the audience, including feelings, and their overall preference, with reasons.

The development of an excellent tagline to assist with brand building is highly advantageous, especially when combined with the many other elements that constitute a holistic brand development strategy.

Alan Kaplan, a PhD with more than 25 years’ experience across academic, media, agency, client and consulting areas, is an Executive Director of Optivance 360.

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