In industry slang they’re called strap lines, slogans, tags and other terms, but the simple fact is, we all know what taglines are. They’re stuck in our heads.

And that’s just what a tagline does. It rings a bell. It’s a tiny little memory bit that stays with you sometimes for life. If you’re over 50, you remember, “I’d walk a mile for a beer.” Heck, if you were addicted to nicotine, you’d walk 10 miles for that cigarette!

What makes a good tag line?

There’s not a whole lot of agreement on this, even though it’s been studied, dissected, analyzed and presented to millions of focus groups, there’s still debate. In fact, I just Googled taglines and came up with 9,400,000 hits on something as simple as IBM’s “Think” from 50s and 60s.

However, take a look at all the tags when you googled. They all have some things in common. The things that make a tag line sticky, a memory bit that gets hardwired in your brain.

What are the attributes of any good tag line? Well, the tag line must do one thing: identify what you do or sell in a way that’s EASY 2 REMEMBER.

The taglines should deliver your product’s or service’s unique positioning statement or UPS.

The perfect example of this is 7-Up’s The Uncola. In a world of cola drinkers, 7-Up, in a single word, distinguishes itself from the rest of the pack. It’s NOT a cola. In fact, it’s just the opposite.

All in one word.

The taglines should be simple.

Make it easy to remember. Nike’s Just Do It says it all

Keeping it simple means short, sweet. And no big words. Would you buy: Acme Hand Soap: The Ubiquitous Clean Hands Solution? First, you have to look up ubiquitous and second, what the heck is a “Clean Hands Solution,” for goodness sake. You mean hand soap? Then say hand soap.

And don’t forget…short. Which is punchier?

Acme Exterminators: Fully-Certified Pest Control Experts (yawn)


Acme Exterminators: We take care of what’s bugging you.

A little humor, confident, and you get it immediately – no dictionary required.

It’s better to be clear than clever.

If you work in marketing you heard that a lot at the agency. Clever is nice, but if the message isn’t clear, it’s not a good tag line.

Acme Staffing, Inc.: Staff Requests

Huh? What the heck does “Staff requests” mean? It may mean something to HR professionals, but even some of them are confused about exactly what Acme Staffing, Inc. does. The strapline doesn’t help, that’s for sure.

The tagline should focus on the buyer.

Now, this isn’t a hard and fast rule. The Uncola is about the product and so is The Quicker Picker Upper. But the old US Army tagline, Be All You Can Be focuses on the potential recruit, offering a host of benefits that can only be imagined by the reader or listener.

Skip the Clichés.

Acme Accounting Service: The Best Accounting Agency In The Tri-City Area.

The Best, the Greatest, Professional, The Only – who says? And, why are we talking about you’re company. What can you do for me?

Enhance the brand.

Part of business success – on-line or in the 3-D world, local, regional or global – is to build brand awareness. People recognize your company name and they know what goods or services you offer.

A good tag line builds brand recognition through the connection of the tag and the company name.

Acme Roofing Company: We’ve got you covered. Humorous. Confident.

Acme Roofing Company: We’re Tops. Simple. Humorous. No doubts. Memorable.

Acme Bankcorp: We Put Your Interest First: Client centered. thought-provoking, humorous

It doesn’t matter the products, services or your NFP message. You spent a lot of time coming up with your company’s name, didn’t you? (I hope that’s a rhetorical question.)

Well, spend even more time on your tagline. Simple. Clear. Unambiguous. Memorable.

Sum up your UPS in five words or less. Then three Words or less. In a single word. Play with words, add them, change them and as you do, wait for that “click” – the one that goes off in your brain when you’ve nailed it.

Acme Carpenters: We Nail It!

Acme Stone Masons: We Rock Your World

Acme Computers: Tomorrow now.

Short and sweet. Punchy and catchy. Think of your taglines as a brain implant – something that takes hold within the visitor’s hard wiring and leads to calls or orders whenever the need arises.