Tuesday, August 3, 2010

What makes a great tagline?

Reading Forbes’ list of the 25 Best-Loved Advertising Taglines* got me thinking about what makes a great tagline. I know this is basic advertising stuff, but it’s smart to think about the basics now and again (and I’m still a student, so it’s kind of my job to think about this stuff).

Size doesn’t really matter. 
Most say tags need to be short: Just Do It. But a lot of the great ones are lengthy: There Are Some Things Money Can't Buy. For Everything Else, There's MasterCard.

Efficiency does. 
Every word in a tagline should serve a purpose. In the MasterCard example, I might be tempted to cut off that first “There Are,” but it has a nice rhythm to it.

Make it memorable, if nothing else. 
One of the best examples: See something, say something. Now used in a lot of cities, the slogan was launched by the NYC Metropolitan Transportation Authority in 2003. And, it’s what the t-shirt vendor who helped thwart an attempted car bombing in Times Square earlier this year told reporters.

Have some attitude. 
Don’t Mess with Texas is one of my favorite examples because it just sounds so darn Texan. But attitude doesn’t have to be tough. It just needs to capture the distinct voice of the company.
  • Damn Right Your Dad Drank It (Canadian Club) is brash and unapologetic.
  • Does she or doesn’t she? (Clairol) has intrigue and allure.
  • We try harder (Avis) is self-deprecating and scrappy.
  • Cotton. The fabric of our lives give a sense of nostalgia.

And an ownable message.  
Who else but YouTube can say: Broadcast Yourself ? Likewise, Talk to Chuck couldn’t be used by anyone but Charles Schwab.

Keep it simple and clear. 
Nothing will kill a tagline like jargon. No one should have to figure out what your tag means. A simple tag that works: You’re in good hands with Allstate.

Being clever never hurts. 
Word play, rhyming, and alliteration help because tags that are fun to say get said more often.
  • Our food is fresh. Our customers are spoiled. (Fresh Direct)
  • It takes a lickin', but keeps on tickin'. (Timex)
  • Click it or ticket.  (National Highway Traffic Safety Administration)

What are your favorite tags? What makes them great?

Check out more great tags at TaglineGuru™.

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