Taglines: A Strong Connection With Your Customers

by | Apr 13, 2018

How do you quickly and easily tell what a brand stands for? Is it even possible to come up with a short expression of what your brand delivers? Yes! Welcome the little-yet-powerful tagline.

Taglines are typically, but not always, a short phrase that help a brand in various ways. A tagline helps express a brand’s position, substance, personality, and competitive difference. Let’s look through these and see how others have used their taglines to bolster their brands.

Brand Position

Let’s start off with how taglines work to help a brand’s position. This area—and how you phrase the tagline to accomplish this goal—can be a little tricky. When it comes to the term “position” in branding you need to be clear what you are referring to. Right now, when we are talking about a tagline expressing a brand position, we are not referring to the positioning statement. While some may consider them similar, they are, in fact, different.

A positioning statement is much more complicated than a tagline. Positioning statements help brands define their target audience, competitive differences, brand solutions, and their unique selling proposition (USP). Taglines help support the positioning statement to the world.

Brand: Target

Tagline: Expect More. Pay Less.

Target’s tagline helps connect the customer to what they can find and expect to pay when they shop at the retailer. It also serves as their promise to consumers. With Target’s main competitor being Walmart, customers everywhere can be asked if there is a difference between the two stores. Maybe consumers categorize Target as the more stylish of the two stores, and as being even more upscale. When you compare Target’s tagline (Expect More. Pay Less.) to that of Walmart(Save money. Live better.) you get a very different sense of what the stores are focused on when it comes to shopping. While Walmart is focused on showing they are simply the low-cost leader, they imply that by saving money you will live a better life. Target’s tagline hits on a different level. The “Expect More”portion it can be viewed in a couple different directions. One is that the consumer is looking for more—more options, more quality, and so on. The “Pay Less” part conveys the idea that even though expectations are higher (and that, therefore, the customer might rightfully expect a higher price), they actually “Pay Less.”

Brand Substance

Connecting your customers to your brand’s substance can be challenging. How do you get your customers to understand why you exist, what makes you unique, and how are you unique? You want your customers to understand that you are the undisputed go-to solution for a specific problem. Having a tagline that handles this means that you are getting to the punch—your audience understands what you mean and what to expect from your brand.

Brand: BMW

Tagline: The Ultimate Driving Machine

BMW is often identified as one of the more costly car manufacturers around. BMW originally introduced their slogan back in the 1970’s. It is used primarily in North America, and was geared specifically towards baby boomers. Their tagline fosters an image of a vehicle that is the top of the line. By including the word “ultimate” with such a strong, definitive statement in their tagline, they are telling people they offer the last, the conclusive and even the apex option in cars.

This form of tagline can be risky. You are, as BMW has done, declaring to the world that you are the best. If BMW used that tagline and then came out with inferior vehicles, do you think they would still be around today? No, they would have vanished and been a simple footnote in the history of automobile manufacturers.

Brand Personality

Some brands choose to connect with their customers through expressing their personality. Since brands are living, ever changing, connecting through personality can help resonate with consumers. A tagline that expresses a brand’s personality allows a consumer to connect in a self-identifying, personal way. When people associate themselves with a brand they are more likely to remember that brand.

Brand: Nike

Tagline: Just Do It.

When you hear the phrase “just do it,” what comes to mind? (Other than Shia LaBeouf’s awkward “motivational speech” a few years ago as part of an art project.) For most people it’s immediately identified as Nike’s famous tagline. The Just Do Ittagline relates to athletes and, by extension, all of us, in that it serves as a call to action. Thinking about running a marathon? Just do it!Thinking about going golfing?Just do it! Thinking about playing basketball? Just do it!

Nike used this tagline to not just serve as a call to action, but also as a motivational mantra. Backed by visuals of people engaged in the activities for which Nike has products, Nike shows that they have a way to help their users get up, get out, and Just Do It. Their personality comes through in backing up their words and their words back what they promote.

Competitive Difference

With taglines, the hard part often is showing how you’re different, but they can be very effective in that regard. When a certain market gets saturated with a lot of competitors, all the competitors are screaming and clamoring for attention from the same audience. When you establish your difference, you have the ability to rise above your competitors in the consumer’s mind, and even possibly answer their questions of how you’re different.


Tagline: We Try Harder

In 1962 Avis was trying to refresh their brand. They were the number two car rental company, and they knew it. Unfortunately, so did everyone else. So how do you get people to start using your company, rather than the number one car rental company? With their new tagline in place, Avis was able to go from losing $3.2 million to a profit of $1.2 million, for the first time in 13 years. Adjusted for inflation, that is equal to losing $26.3 million to a profit $9.9 million today.

With the We Try Hardertagline, Avis was telling their customers that their key differentiator was that they were going to try harder for their business. Avis used the tagline to silently attack their number one competitor, Hertz. During the 50 years that they used the We Try Hardertagline, they never called them out by name, but when you say We Try Harder, the question then naturally comes to mind, “harder than who?”

In recent years there has been some scrutiny on the effectiveness of taglines. Some have even argued that they are not needed or that they are outdated. While a tagline alone doesn’t sell anything, it helps connect your brand with the consumer, and that is where any brand wants to be—connected.

What do you consider a great example of an effective tagline? What has been your biggest struggle when it comes to creating your own tagline? Does your brand have one? If not, why not? Let us know in the comments, below.

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1 Comment

  1. Richard

    Thank you for posting this important message. Really makes you think about your personal branding!


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