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Just Do It: How to Create a Memorable Tagline

by Carrie Shearer  |  
February 13, 2007

Taglines position your brand. They are a few descriptive words that set your business apart from the competition and arouse interest in your product or service.

Exceptional taglines can remind potential customers about your brand without mentioning your product, service, or company name. Among the first ones that come to my mind are these: 'When you care enough to send the very best," "The quicker picker-upper," "We try harder," and "Just do it!" (Hallmark, Bounty, Avis, and Nike, respectively).

Simply hearing the tagline makes me think of the product it describes. In fact, for Bounty, I don't think of the manufacturer, but simply the product.

Basically, a tagline should communicate your company's positioning. What is the unique benefit that your product or service offers your target audience? Remember the 7-Up tagline "The Uncola"? These two words clearly identified the positioning of 7-Up as different from cola drinks. It was memorable because at the time the words could not have been used to describe another soft drink.

That characteristic is vital to a good tagline: It is clear which product it defines. In fact, the test of a good tagline is that it would not make sense if it were used to describe a competitor's product. Avis's tagline is an excellent example of using something particular about a product—in this case, being the No. 2 rental car company—and using it to define itself to its potential customers.

Michael Goodman, president of Dialogue Marketing Group, put it this way in a recent interview:

Typically, a tagline is used to communicate or explain the main positioning benefit the company or brand provides—especially when the company/brand name doesn't do a particularly good job of communicating that message. In that case, it's important to go back to the positioning statement and make sure the target audience is clearly and narrowly defined, and the benefit is really one that's important to that target audience….

Simply looking for a "catchy tagline" that customers and potential customers will remember is like looking for a joke to open a show. It's quickly forgotten unless the subject matter and substance are important to the target audience. Better to start with Marketing 101. Develop an overall marketing strategy and a solid positioning statement, and use those as the basis for communicating what's important for the business/brand.

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Carrie Shearer is a writer and researcher who has been published in the European Wall Street Journal and other global publications.  Before embarking on her second, or is it third career, Carrie spent 25 years in the international petroleum industry, most of it overseas.

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