What is The Ultimate Driving Machine?
What is The Pause That Refreshes?
Who do you choose when it absolutely, positively has to be there overnight?
These taglines cause their brands to leap into your mind: BMW when it comes to driving precision and performance. Coca-Cola when you need a refreshing soft drink – even though Coke hasn’t used that tagline since 1947. And FedEx, when you need to absolutely, positively get that package delivered overnight (although they no longer use that tagline – can you think of their current one?).
A powerful tagline is a short, punchy statement of competitive advantage that grabs people by their minds and makes them want to inquire about your products or services – or become your customers, clients, readers, students, etc. right away.
The best taglines are direct. They stake out a distinct, concrete claim in a few well-chosen words.
Ford Escape is The Most Fuel-Efficient SUV on Earth.
Tractor Supply sells The Stuff You Need Out Here.
Many other taglines don’t say much – they are creative, but vague. “Cute” alone doesn’t do the job. Your tagline should work hard. It should tell people what you’re all about – whether you’re selling a billion dollar national brand or trying to get your small business noticed.
The MacBook Air is The World’s Thinnest Notebook. Breitling watches are Instruments For Professionals.
But who is A Step Ahead? Orbitz.
Who pleads with you to Reach Higher? Lincoln.
Both of these taglines require elaboration. They are mildly creative but strategically weak – and there are gazillions of others like them out there not working very hard to position their brands.
Does Wired need a tagline? What about Surbaru? Or Microsoft?
Wired has been around long enough to have tons of brand equity, in that weird Wired way. Besides, their name says what it is. Subaru could do a lot better defining itself than it does … although the “love” ad theme they’ve used from time to time works pretty well. Somewhere out there there’s a great tagline waiting for Subaru that will define their brand powerfully and effectively.
What about Microsoft?
Everybody knows the name, but what does the brand stand for? Some of the things that come to mind aren’t all that flattering, so a case can be made that Microsoft needs to do a better job defining itself vs. leaving it up to the marketplace to decide. Bill Gates has done a great job putting a positive face on his the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation. But Microsoft itself seems to have ignored this vital strategic responsibility.
What about other well-known brands?
The Men’s Wearhouse has a more compelling tagline: CEO George Zimmer intoning You’re Gonna Like the Way You Look. I Guarantee It.) In comparison, their key competitor’s tagline, The Expert in Men’s Apparel, is weak. With that big an edge in share of mind, Men’s Wearhouse shouldn’t have to spend as much on advertising as JoS. A. Bank to keep their tagline front and center in the public mind.
What about Squidoo?
When I first heard the name I laughed out loud – what a great name! But what is a Squidoo? Something you eat? Something you play with? Something you drive? Something you avoid?
Squidoo is “the world’s most popular site for building free, single pages about your passion.” That explains it to hopeful participants. But what does “Squidoo” mean to the visitors the site wants to attract? How would you explain “Squidoo” to a friend who doesn’t know what it is – in a few simple words that make them want to check it out?
Like Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia. Their tagline rocks!
Don’t choose weak words to set yourself apart. Clever is never enough. Instead, declare your competitive advantage with a tagline that clearly and unambiguously explains your business or brand authenticity (your Key Message) in a few powerful words that attract the customers you want.