Five reasons to use a brand strapline

Five reasons to use a brand strapline

Why do you need a Brand Strapline?

Because your brand strapline (or tagline) is a great tool for building your brand.

And here are just five reasons why…

Five reasons to craft your brand strapline

Your brand strapline (or tagline) helps to grow your business because it:

  1. Confirms your brand positioning. It helps to attract the customers you serve. (And it could also define who your brand competes against).
  2. Engages your prospects emotionally. Your brand strapline expresses your brand personality. It sets the tone – whether it’s serious, smart or tongue-in-cheek.
  3. Helps people remember your business more easily. Sometimes the brand strapline is one of the first things customers say about a business. For example, John Lewis is known for ‘Never knowingly undersold’ – a brand strapline that lasted a long time.
  4. Communicates what your brand stands for. L’Oreal started using the strapline  ‘Because you’re worth it’ to express their commitment to ongoing product innovations and improvements. And now this strapline plays a key role in brand messaging and customer communications. They use variations such as ‘Because we’re all worth it’ and ‘Show Us You’re Worth It’ (great for Instagram). This shows how a brand strapline can evolve over time, yet stay fresh and engaging.
  5. Perhaps most importantly, your brand strapline helps to differentiate your business – and it makes it harder for competitors to copy.

If you don’t have a strapline (or tagline), or you want to change the one you have now – here are some tips to get you started.

Getting started on your brand strapline

If you want to create a brand strapline that lasts, start by getting clear on the three key areas below, before you start brainstorming ideas. (Otherwise, you may end up with a generic phrase that sounds the same as your competitors).

Remember, your goal is to be authentic, represent the essence of your brand and differentiate your business. Be absolutely clear and committed to:

  1. Understand your target clients
  2. Track competitors
  3. Love your brand – because if you don’t, who will?

Here are some tips to get started:

1. Understand your target clients

  • Be aware of what your target audience wants, needs and desires.
  • Stay in tune with your people and what’s changing for them. Because, in a nutshell, your brand strapline needs to make sense to the people you serve. If it doesn’t make sense to them, you could alienate them, which in turn could damage your brand. In the long run, alienation reduces sales. In the short term, it creates confusion.
  • Remember, your aim is to build your brand.

2. Track your competitors

  • Keep asking questions about your competitors.
  • What do they say about themselves?
  • What do they say to customers?
  • What’s their tone of voice? Do they appeal to the emotions? Or are they more practical?
  • What makes your business different from theirs?

3. Love your brand

Your choice of brand strapline is a strategic decision. You want a brand strapline that serves your business exceptionally well. Hence do take into consideration:

  • Your brand name
  • The brand life cycle
  • Market sector
  • Target customers and your relationship with them
  • Your brand values, personality and essence
  • Brand ambitions

Let’s take a look at five types of brand strapline

These examples may inspire ideas for creating your own brand strapline. Here’s the list of five types of strapline (or tagline), with examples of each type of strapline, from both big and small businesses.

  1. Descriptive
  2. Call to action
  3. Thought-provoking
  4. Simply the best
  5. Masters of the universe

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1. Descriptive strapline

  • A descriptive brand strapline describes what your business does – which makes it easy for customers to understand your service, product or brand promise.
  • These descriptive straplines are particularly useful if your business has an abstract or evocative brand name because they describe – and help – customers to understand which sector your business is in.
  • Descriptive straplines are also useful if the brand is the name of the business owner. This is the case with many coaching, interior design, fashion and professional services businesses.
  • Having a descriptive brand strapline works really well for small businesses and for new businesses – because it’s a great way to get your message across quickly, succinctly and clearly.

(Read more: 7 useful tips on choosing a business name)

Here are a couple of examples:

Castle Acre is a facilities management business aimed at residential homeowners, lettings agents and property developers. The brand strapline ‘Complete Home Management’ positions Castle Acre in the high end residential property sector.

Sterling North are independent financial advisers who talk to clients in plain English, avoiding jargon. The brand strapline ‘Financial advice made simple’ provides emotional reassurance in a market sector where customers may sometimes feel adrift and vulnerable.

Castle Acre Complete Home Management brand strapline
Sterling North brand straplinee

2. Call to action

  • Brand straplines (or taglines) with a call to action are often emotionally engaging, because they create a sense of involvement and inclusion. This means they can feel personal, dynamic and motivating.
  • A call to action helps customers imagine the pleasure of using the brand or the satisfaction that comes afterwards.
  • Like descriptive straplines, this type of brand strapline also works very well for small businesses.

Examples include:

‘Just do it’ from Nike is probably the most famous strapline in the world – and it’s a call to action. It works superbly well for all types of athletes – from beginners to world-class professionals. And creates an inclusive tone that supports the brand personality.

‘Have a break, have a KitKat’ is a call to action that has stood the test of time. It’s been used since 1958 in the UK and no doubt will continue as long as it stays relevant to customers.

‘Creating Space to Enjoy’ from Clutter Clear Solutions is an example of a call to action from a small business. It’s effective at capturing the feeling of freedom and emotional satisfaction you get from decluttering your personal space.

Nike brand strapline
Kit Kat brand strapline
Clutter Clear Solutions brand strapline

3. Thought-provoking

  • Use a thought-provoking brand strapline (or tagline) when you want your customers to rethink their opinions of your brand.
  • They’re also useful for communication campaigns. They have the potential to be high impact (which could also be high risk).
  • This may be why the best examples are from big brands. Smaller businesses could use this approach too – maybe when you’re rebranding.

‘Be more dog’ encouraged customers to use O2 to be more sociable. It also caused some head scratching, as well as smiles.

‘Look again, think again’ is the perfect approach for the pioneering approach of Tate galleries and for their curated exhibitions. Sadly, it may no longer be in use.

Be more dog
Tate brand strapline

4. Simply the best

I love this type of brand strapline because they make me smile. They’re powerful, because they’re amusing, fun and tap into the sheer joy of life.

The other reason I like these straplines is they are smart, because they:

  • Make it difficult for your competitor to compete in precisely the same area.
  • Differentiate your brand.
  • Are difficult to disprove.
  • Help your business to appear best in its class.

Here are some examples:

‘The Ultimate Driving Machine‘ says it all. What could be better? It captures both the ergonomic design of BMW cars and the sheer pleasure their owners take in driving them.

‘Probably the best lager in the world’ is another enduring strapline. It may not be the best tasting lager, but it is probably viewed with affection for its tongue-in-cheek approach and witty banter. Depending on the market, ‘lager’ and ‘beer’ are interchanged.

BMW brand strapline
Carlsberg ad with brand strapline

5. Masters of the category

This type of brand strapline is all about leadership. If you want to establish leadership in your category, then consider taking a leadership stance. There are at least three different ways to do this:

  • Aim to ‘own’ the generic benefit of your category

Here’s the example of Facilities Management specialists myfm. They’re a small business with a big brand promise, which is summed up in their strapline of ‘Totally Dependable’.

  • Assert technology leadership

Audi is a good example with ‘Vorsprung durch Technik’. It builds on the world-leading reputation of German engineering with intelligence and a witty undertone.It’s an abstract concept yet it conveys leadership and striving for improvement. 

  • ‘Own’ the high ground

Look at Sky with ‘Believe in better’. It’s an abstract concept, yet it sets them apart from competitors.

myfm brand strategy
Audi brand strapline
Sky brand strapline

Guidelines for creating your brand strapline

Before you get started, remember:

  • It takes time and effort to create the best version of your strapline.
  • Great straplines are difficult to create.
  • Big brands have great straplines because they invest time, energy, money and love (yes, they love those brands) in their brand strategy. And they work with clever copywriters.

However, this doesn’t mean that big brands have the monopoly on great straplines that are apt, intriguing and engaging. It sets a challenge for smaller businesses. Yes, you can create a great brand strapline too. And one of the joys of straplines is this – you can change it. It’s absolutely fine to evolve and change your brand strapline over time…

So, here is the checklist for your new brand strapline:

  • Keep it short
  • Be different from competitors
  • Aim to be unique to you
  • Make your strapline easy to say (and therefore easy to remember)
  • Be positive (and avoid negative connotations, if you can)
  • Evoke an emotional response
  • Stay true to your brand essence

Once you’re happy with your brand strapline, you could explore protecting it by trademark. Here’s the link to discover more about how to register a trademark (for UK readers only).

In summary

  • Creating your brand strapline is a strategic decisionIt can evolve and grow with your business over time – like the example of L’Oreal with ‘Because You’re Worth It’.
  • Your strapline inspires your brand messaging and marketing campaigns.
  • It is meaningful and relevant to your business – and your customers.
  • It is different from competitors’
  • And it is easy to say and remember.
  • Finally, check that you can register and protect your new brand strapline.

So, have fun with working on your brand strapline. However, if you want help, we’re always here for you. When we work with clients on their brand strategy, we often find this work generates the ideas for the brand strapline.

Simply drop us a line here

Other things we do include creating brand names and product names  – either as part of a branding or rebranding project or in tailored workshops.

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