How important is a tagline?

Hello. As usual, this is an opinion-based blog from a guy that’s been doing this for a while. I don’t use a lot of graphs and charts in my blogs because you can google that anytime you want. If you want my take on the subject, please read on.

In my opinion, your brand’s tagline is the single most important element of your brand. It’s that one little, memorable statement that encapsulates your entire brand promise. Because of that, everything you do to promote your brand has to support that tiny yet weighty phrase. An example I like to use is BMW. Whether you agree with BMW’s tagline or not, they own it in every way, shape and form. “The Ultimate Driving Machine®.”

So, if you’re car shopping and someone recommends that you look at a BMW, your first reaction may be, “I can’t afford a Beemer!” That’s exactly the perception BMW wants you to have. They are a desirable, exclusive “club” that a lot of people would aspire to be a part of. BMW doesn’t have to prove the quality or the innovative features of their cars to you, their tagline and supporting marketing communications materials already take care of that. When you learn that you can actually buy the ultimate driving machine and be a part of that exclusive club all within your budget, the competition simply dissolves away regardless of their declared superior quality and the state-of-the-art “bells and whistles” they may offer.

The right tagline can make the difference between a successful brand and a failing one. A tagline shouldn’t need an explanation. It is exactly what the brand represents. So, let’s say you’re with a bank and you want to be perceived as innovative and millennial-friendly, you’re tagline shouldn’t be “Your community bank since 1889.” That ship sailed in the early 2000’s when the big banks were messing everything up for the entire FI sector. At that time, longevity and stability were more important than technology and convenience.

For banks and credit unions, this shouldn’t come as a surprise; your depositors are aging. You need to appeal to a younger demo to survive. I suggest you take a hard look at your tagline first. What simple statement would encourage trial by younger customers and/or members, but not offend your valued older account holders?

A tagline is a simple fix that will shape all of the future communications of your brand. A good example of this is John Deere, Nothing Runs like a Deere®. I’ve owned a John Deere lawn tractor and a Simplicity® as well as a Toro®. I thought they all did a comparable job, but I just felt better riding a Deere. My perception of John Deere was that it was a high-quality lawn mower. The best, I guess. The consistent brand messaging and onboarding materials I received only supported my perception. One last thing, I did pay a premium for my John Deere, but to me, it was just a personal investment in my own (supposed) peace of mind.

Can you update and/or change your tagline entirely? The answer is yes. With technology changing so fast, an older tagline may be just stating half of your new brand essence. Like I said, in the early to mid 2000’s “Your community bank since 1889” may have been right on the money! That’s not the case anymore. It screams “we haven’t changed since 1889!” Is that a viable market perception for growth in 2020 and beyond? (Rhetorical question folks.)

Take a look at your company’s tagline, does it feel a bit antiquated? Is it time for a tagline makeover? A new tagline symbolizes a new direction in your brand’s core messaging. There are very few things that can get your entire staff as excited and engaged as the promise of a new creative direction. New internal and external communications will give your people a renewed sense of pride to be a part of something big—all because of a tiny, little phrase.

If you think you might need a tagline makeover, let me know and we’ll put our heads together. Until then, be “the best a man can get” and ”Just do it”. Why? “Because you’re worth it”.

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