The End For Taglines?

March 6, 2014 / Branding, News /

Branding is all about leaving an unforgettable image in the minds of those who see it. Usually if this is done effectively it’s likely to resonate in customers minds long after the purchase has been made and continue to be a key factor in their return to your business for years to come.


Typically, branding is made up by two key elements. The first and more glamorous side is logo design. Characteristically, seen as the most vital tool in helping your business stand out. The second, and potentially forgotten component is the humble tagline. No thrills, no spills. To put it all into perspective, if the logo design is the Ferrari of the branding world then the tagline is seen as the equivalent of an ‘87 Corolla, unappreciated and overlooked.


Somewhere amid the ebb and flow of the 21st century (which saw the boom of technology and social media, along with the decline of answering machines and disposable cameras … just to name a few) businesses turned their back on the once prominent tagline.


Personally, I feel blame was unfairly placed on taglines for failed branding exercises, wayward marketing movements and subpar advertising campaigns. Businesses needed a scapegoat and unfortunately taglines were in the wrong place at the wrong time. Ryan Millbern (chief writer and creator of thoughtcatalog) looked at the tagline in depth and attributed three key reasons to its decline in businesses branding phases, through the past decade in his article ‘Taglines are dead: who killed them, and how can we bring them back to life’. These being expectations, writing by committee (group influence) and group testing … and I’d have to agree with all three.


The initial focus of expectation was, and still is a major concern for the tagline. Businesses commonly make the mistake of expecting that a tagline will solve all of a company’s branding issues. Unfortunately, this is incorrect. Taglines are capable of doing three distinct things, initially giving your brand a voice – helping to inform customers about who you are, what you do and why you’re different from competition in the same market. The second, centers on the idea of standing out or being noticed in a sea of competition (which can always be a difficult task). The third, a tool designed to frame your branding campaign – taking those rough edges and adding polish to make your brand shine.


The idea of writing by committee is another interesting factor to evaluate. The problems arise when the tagline is set (or thought to be done), it’s then poked and prodded, pushed and shoved into place – with what could be deemed unnecessary input coming from various parties – ending up in the constant refinement of the tagline and the unsettling of the carefully put together phrase.


The third component lies with group testing. An effective method used by various organisations, designed to gain customer feedback on a variety of products and services entrance into the market – focus groups can sometimes create more headaches than good. What’s unfortunate is that companies are willing to totally scrap a tagline based on the outcome of focus groups, even though the tagline may satisfy the desired aim or needs a business had set out to achieve.


What if Larry Page and Sergey Brin gave up on Google just because of a few bad reviews? Or because in 1998 no one thought a search engine would be a valuable commodity for the future?


We are inundated on a daily basis with large quantities of business-related messages, and the need to stand out – getting your message across quickly and efficiently – is now more important than ever before. Taglines are still integral for a brand, typically their value grows over time and when your company’s name, logo and taglines are all working together, effectively, they become one of the most valuable assets an organisation can ask for and an exceptional piece of advertising.


By investing in this small piece of ‘brand expression’ you’re ensuring your brand has its best chance of success in the market place.


Think about it. How is your tagline performing?


*UNO Australia is a Melbourne based creative design agency located on the outer skirts of Richmond, specialising in graphic, product and exhibition / retail interior design solutions. If you are looking to develop your brand or product, feel free to contact us for further information. We look forward to hearing from you.