Can You Hear Me Now? Good.
That’s Verizon’s tagline — and it conveys a very clear point. Verizon has the best networks so you don’t drop service.
The tagline has done wonders for their marketing, and they’re not alone. Hundreds of companies, from Apple to Microsoft to Nike, have used taglines to supercharge their marketing and get customers to associate a message with their brand.
There’s a psychological phenomenon called the mere-exposure effect, in which we tend to develop a preference for things merely because we’re familiar with them.[*]
This is why taglines work so well; they are memorable for your customers and open them to the mere-exposure effect.
But taglines and slogans can be difficult to come up with and require some creativity. That’s why I created this actionable guide to creating a tagline. In it, I cover what a tagline is, what makes a great tagline, a three-step action plan to create your own tagline, and five examples of successful taglines.
A tagline is defined as “a catchphrase or slogan, especially as used in advertising, or the punchline of a joke.”[*]
When it comes to marketing, a tagline is your business' mantra; it tells people who you are and what you stand for in a few succinct words.
The purpose of a tagline is to create a positive, memorable phrase that sticks in your customer's head and helps them identify your brand and your marketing message.
Before I walk you through a step-by-step process to create your tagline, here are a few quick tips to keep in mind:
Most successful slogans are only 3-6 words long and get the point across without much thought. Ideally, your tagline should be six words or fewer (with some exceptions that I’ll share in the examples section at the end).
A tagline shouldn’t be made just because you saw some famous companies have one. If you’re going to invest the mental energy and marketing budget to craft a catchphrase, it should truly bring meaning to your brand. Otherwise, just skip creating one altogether.
There should be no guessing as to what your tagline means. In addition to being simple, it should clearly state the mission or purpose of your company without any guesswork. If you ask some friends what they think, and they ask questions back, you did it wrong.
Customers care about benefits, not features — and that goes for your tagline as well. It should tell your audience the main benefit of your brand or product without sharing “features.” For example, convenience is a benefit, whereas a removable part for easy cleaning is a feature.
Storytelling is a huge part of marketing and business. The stronger your story, the easier it is to make more sales. If your slogan tells a story, like some of the examples I share at the end, it can become an integral part of your marketing and brand.
Actually creating a tagline can be a difficult process, or it can be incredibly easy. It really depends on your creativity and if inspiration happens to strike.
That said, inspiration tends to strike those in motion. And we’ve created an actionable step-by-step plan to get you in motion and help you create a business tagline as easily as possible!
This is excellent advice from Stephen Covey, author of The Seven Habits of Highly Successful People. The idea is to envision where you want yourself (and your business) to be in 5-10 years.
You do this because your business today isn’t nearly as big or inspiring as you’d one day like it to be. But if you start treating it as if your dreams are already achieved from day one, you have a much better chance of getting there.
So ask yourself:
Where do I want my business to be in 5-10 years?
What do I want my business to stand for? Who do I want to help?
For help during this process, click the button below to get my business tagline worksheet where you can write in the answers to these questions as you read this guide!
The best marketing taps into people’s emotions; your tagline is no different.
Ask yourself: What do you want people to feel when they think of your business?
It could be a simple emotion, like happiness or pride. But it can also be something more complex, such as “refreshed”, “confident”, or even “hungry”.
Here’s Plutchik’s emotion wheel of the various types of emotions:[*]
My worksheet includes all 27 human emotions to help you decide what you want your customers to feel. Click the button below to grab it now!
At this point, you know where you want to be, what you stand for, and how you want your customers to feel. The next step is to create your tagline!
Let’s say you want to be the leading retailer for coffee mugs, and your vision in 10 years is to sell 10 million coffee mugs. You want to make your customers smile at least once every day when they pull out their favorite mug.
A good slogan might be something like:
Love in a mug
At least one reason to smile
A smile a day…
Sit. Sip. Smile.
You get the idea. I created these by visualizing the feeling I want my customers to have when they see one of my mugs, then used a little creativity to capture that feeling in a few words.
I suggest coming up with at least 10-20 ideas to start. It’s OK if they suck; this can be a numbers game. The purpose is to put your creative muscles to work, and as you get the wheels turning, it should get easier to come up with ideas.
Unless you happen to be a creative genius, you’ll probably get stuck and you might even start getting aggravated.
That’s OK! It’s all part of the creative thinking process.
Here are some tips to help you when you can’t figure out that “perfect” slogan:
If you’re getting stuck, chances are you can’t find the right words to convey what you want to about your brand.
In that case, consider browsing a list of power words that convey emotion to see if anything catches your eye.
Words such as:
Good artists copy. If you’re feeling stuck, browse other business’s taglines to get fresh ideas.
Here is a list of 10:[*]
I also have a list of several examples at the end of this guide.
While you’re looking at them, think about why their tagline is what it is. Think about the emotions they’re trying to convey, what their product is, and why it might make sense. This process of reverse-engineering will help you develop your own tagline.
Coming up with a tagline is almost as stressful as coming up with a business name or logo. But the cool thing about taglines is that if it’s not working, they’re much easier to change!
Nearly every big brand has changed their tagline at one point or another, either to adapt with a new vision or new trends, or simply because the old one wasn’t working.
So relieve some of the pressure on yourself and realize that your slogan doesn’t have to be perfect!
Shopify built a free slogan generator that takes a word or phrase and generates tagline ideas for your brand. Try it out![*]
When all else fails, walk away!
Part of the creative process is hitting blocks. Sometimes the best thing is to do something else. Go for a walk, grab some food, talk with a friend; anything to get your mind as far away from your tagline as possible.
Let your subconscious do the work and take a crack at it later or even tomorrow!
Here’s a mix of slogans, taglines, and catchphrases that have been used by companies big and small to give you some ideas. I’ll also share a bit about them and why they work so well.
Coca-Cola has changed their tagline more than a dozen times since 1886. Here are the first 15 changes they made:[*]
Their most recent tagline, “Taste The Feeling”, is great because it’s simple, easy to use in advertising, and understandable.
Many people associate Coca-Cola with a certain feeling of refreshment and relaxation, and a big part of that is Coke’s use of their slogans in their marketing.
Side Note: One of my favorite taglines from Coke is “Things Go Better With Coke,” and I believe this slogan is a big part of their current success. People associate eating food with drinking Coke, likely thanks to that marketing campaign.
My wife, Kayla, came up with this tagline for her food blog, The Sustainable Harvest.[*]
She wants people to create more healthy home-cooked meals and feel the joy that comes from it. After about a dozen ideas, this is the one she landed on — to show you that it can take time and multiple ideas to decide on the right tagline.
Here are some ideas we wrote in a Google Doc (yes there’s a Joe Dirt reference in there; you gotta have fun while you’re doing it!):
General Electric, another massively successful brand, once touted this tagline. It makes sense and it’s very clear — they create good things.
This tagline belongs to Death Wish Coffee, the world’s strongest coffee.[*]
Unlike the other brands, Death Wish Coffee sells a single product — coffee. Because of that, they can craft their tagline around that single product and use their marketing and development budget to create the strongest coffee in the world.
This one’s a bit different; it’s the slogan of a city, not a business. Las Vegas became known on this single slogan!
Ready to create a tagline for your business? Click the button below to download my fill-in-the-blank worksheet with questions to guide the creative process:
Want more money? Create a tagline.