Words Make Winners: Is your tagline nailing it?
Taglines are tough. They tend to fall into two categories: Lame or amazing. Coming up with a really effective one is something of a challenge. In my opinion, if you haven’t yet hit on amazing
, you’re just cluttering up the page real estate with unnecessary and distracting verbiage.
Here’s one of my favorite examples of a great tagline for M.D. Anderson, a cancer hospital and research facility: “Making cancer history.” What makes it so wonderful?
- Clever: the double entendre implies they make your cancer history through effective treatments and that their advanced research into curing cancer is making history.
- Bold and Confident: Don’t be wishy-washy about how good you are. Other examples are “Finger-lickin’ good!” “L’oréal. Because I’m worth it.” If you don’t believe you’re the best, how will your public?
- Crisp and Catchy: Short taglines encapsulate big ideas. Remember the Apple tagline, “Think Different”?
An outlier in the tagline hall of fame is the old BASF tagline. It’s L-o-o-o-n-g. “We don’t make the products you buy. We make the products you buy better.” When I first heard it decades ago, it really caught my attention because of the intrigue. Who are these people? What the heck do they do? Sadly, they later changed it to “THE chemical company.” Meh. You see how they lost the mystique?
Branding a chemical company for public consumption is always a challenge: what thrills the company leadership and chemistry geeks, usually falls flat with the public. Remember Monsanto’s Twilight Zone
-esque “Without chemicals, life itself would be impossible”? Well sure
everything in nature is essentially chemistry, but weren’t they implying a little bit more?
Lame taglines generally fall flat because they don’t differentiate and they don’t take a position. They are vague: “one stop shop” is a horrible tagline—in fact, it’s not
a tagline. Might as well be, “We do whatever.”
Anyway, when you are developing a tagline, don’t hold back. Choose words that make winners. Be bold, specific, crisp and cool. Take a position. Show leadership. Just do it
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