Just what purpose does a tagline perform for a brand?

Slogans are good for you!James Chartrand, writing at CopyBlogger, authored a post called “How to Create a Rock-Solid Tagline That Truly Works”.

James defines a tagline, aka slogan or strapline, as ”…the key phrase that identifies your business by capturing the essence of three elements:

Your mission
Your promise
Your brand”

He then goes on to suggest how you develop that rock-solid tagline.

I’d just like to add a few thoughts. I’ve created my share of taglines, most often as an agency copywriter. In this arena the tagline is not usually a branding element so much as an ad “payoff”. Almost a summary. And yes, indeed, it should convey a product benefit.

Writing a tagline can be like writing a headline except the tagline will be used in several or many ads, all with different headlines.

But as a branding element, the idea of the tagline differentiating the brand is certainly its most common function.

However, there are other functions the tagline can perform with equal validity. The slogan need not differentiate so much as to “set a mood”.

Quite often, particularly for a really new product, the tagline can effectively position the product in a new category.

And certainly the tagline can communicate the brand promise.

The one thing the tagline should never be, however, is a platitude. The folks at Y2 Marketing said it best: If you’re reaction to a tagline is, “Well, I should hope so”, you have a platitude, a throw-away line that just takes up space.

So my thought is to look at the other brand elements and see if anything is missing. If so, you might work it in with a tagline. And if possible, filling that gap will also communicate brand mission, promise and benefit in an integrated manner.

Martin Jelsema


One thought on “Just what purpose does a tagline perform for a brand?

  1. Hey Martin,

    I appreciated your input over at Copyblogger. As I mentioned over there, the post was written for websites and blogs, where people consistently screw up their tagline to try to be cool.

    It happens. A lot.

    Problem is, their tagline falls flat. That’s what I’m trying to avoid. They’re not GE or Nike with hugely paid advertising execs and marketing directors. They’re Joe Average with questionable cleverness and strange humor at times.

    They have one computer screen (above the fold only) and two seconds to get visitors to stay. Cool isn’t going to cut it. Platitudes work well on the ‘net.

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