Last Updated on
“A Diamond Is Forever”
“Just Do It.”
“I’m Lovin’ It”
You can probably figure out the company behind at least 1 of those taglines.
A great tagline will make your business more memorable. This results in more sales and return customers, among other benefits.
But how do you make an effective tagline for a small or medium business?
If you run a small local company, “Smith’s Landscaping,” you can’t get away with a vague tagline like those above.
You also can’t make a grand claim like “America runs on Smith’s Landscaping,” because a tagline needs to be believable to stick in your mind.
However, it is possible to make, for a specific niche, a catchy tagline that will stick in minds of viewers.
We can learn a lot from the taglines of large, successful companies. And we can take those lessons and apply them to small and medium businesses.
In this guide we’ll look at 10 examples of effective business taglines and how to come up with your own.
What is a Tagline?
While not all companies need a tagline, almost all should have one.
Here’s a brief tagline definition:
A short, but memorable description of a business’ values and mission.
What’s the Difference Between a Company Slogan and Tagline?
While slogans and taglines are similar they are not the same thing.
They differ in scope.
A tagline is meant to express the business’ core identity.
A slogan is a memorable message that you use alongside a product or advertising campaign. Slogans typically are used for a limited duration of time.
For example, Nike’s tagline is “Just do it.” This is unlikely to change.
Video: Decades after it was first broadcast, Nike’s tagline “Just do it” is as iconic as the brand. Nike also uses it as a social media hashtag.
But over the years, Nike has run many advertising campaigns with different slogans. Here are a few:
- “Every damn day. Just do it.”
- “Yesterday you said tomorrow.”
- “There is no finish line.”
- “My sport is your sport’s punishment.”
Apple’s “Think Different” was an advertising slogan, rather than a tagline:
Video: “Here’s to the crazy ones. The misfits. The rebels.” The first “Think different” commercial, narrated by actor Richard Dreyfuss, launched one of Apple’s most memorable slogans.
So while slogans and taglines are both short and memorable, they serve different purposes.
What Makes a Good Tagline?
A study in the Journal of Business Research asked “Why do we like some slogans more than others?”
They found that how much a consumer likes a slogan has nothing to do with how much is spent on media promotion. The takeaway: Repeated exposure to a slogan isn’t likely to cause the target audience to like it more.
The research also found that the key factors behind an effective slogan were:
- Clarity of message
- Benefits mentioned
- Rhymes and creativity
The researchers also found that brevity and jingles have no effect on effectiveness of a slogan. So it’s better to have a long, clear message, than a short one that is vague.
Applying Lessons From Good Slogans: Creating Good Taglines
All of these lessons about slogans apply to taglines too. It’s just a matter of altering the scope.
Having a clear message and mentioning benefits will also help online businesses because you’ll be mentioning keywords on your site that will help you rank better in search engines.
10 Example Taglines From Business Brands
We’ve already mentioned a few popular taglines.
Now, let’s take a more detailed look at other examples of taglines and extract the strengths of each as lessons.
I’ve included taglines from companies in various industries, and of various sizes, so we’ll form a complete picture of effective taglines by the end of this guide.
The Mosaic Company: “We Help the World Grow the Food It Needs”
The Mosaic Company is a large company based in Minnesota that operates worldwide. They sell fertilizer and other agricultural products.
There are a few strong points of this tagline:
- The benefit of their products is clear – helping others to grow food.
- Their reach is stated – “world” – lets potential customers know they operate globally.
- Simple language – Anyone who speaks English can understand this tagline.
Pitney Bowes: “We are the Craftsmen of Commerce”
Pitney Bowes is a large technology company that operates worldwide.
They sell equipment for mailing, e-commerce, software, and more.
What’s good about it?
- Focuses on the end user – Customers need to remember that they are involved in helping businesses.
- Expresses quality – Craftsmanship is associated with personalized and high-quality work that stands out in a sea of impersonal lookalikes.
- It’s short, but clear – You understand that Pitney Bowes offers unique assistance to businesses.
Lush: “Fresh Handmade Cosmetics”
Here’s why this is effective:
- Short, but clear.
- “Fresh” and “handmade” make you think of simple products. Lush sells simple all natural products.
- It feels transparent. There are no buzzwords, it’s just a simple tagline about a “simple” company.
eHarmony: “#1 Trusted Dating Site”
Why does one of the biggest dating sites use this tagline?
- It clearly states eHarmony’s purpose (to provide serious, trustworthy match-making).
- It states a competitive strength (#1).
- There’s no fluff. Every word in it has a purpose.
McKinsey: “We help our clients make change happen”
McKinsey is a worldwide consulting firm.
This tagline has a few main strengths:
- Clarity – You know what they do (advise businesses).
- It contains a benefit – “make change happen”
- No fluff: Focuses on a single need — making business change happen.
Fedex: “The World on Time”
Everyone knows Fedex, and most know their tagline. It’s been effective because:
- It contains a benefit – The biggest pain with delivery is being late; they emphasize being “on time.”
- Addresses scope – Delivery not just a country, but for the “world.”
- No fluff – Because Fedex is so well known, there’s no need to specifically include words like “delivery.”
Prana: “Yoga, Travel, & Adventure Clothes With A Conscience”
Prana is a small clothing company that focuses on socially-conscious apparel.
Here’s why I like their tagline:
- Clear what they sell – 3 types of clothes are stated.
- Biggest benefit is clear – “socially-conscious.”
- No assumptions made – Large companies can assume people know what they do, but Prana knows they need to be specific about who they are.
WP Engine: “WordPress Hosting, Perfected.”
I’m a big fan of WP Engine as a website hosting company. This tagline is great because:
- It clearly states their one purpose – WordPress hosting.
- It’s short, but clear.
- It includes a differentiator from competitors – “Perfected” is a bold goal, but WP Engine comes close.
Earthjustice: “Because the Earth Needs a Good Lawyer”
Earthjustice is a non-profit law firm that fights to protect the environment through legislation. Here’s why I like their tagline:
- It’s clear – You know their purpose within seconds of landing on their site.
- Distinct imagery – The “environment” is hard to picture, but the “Earth” is a specific thing for people to picture.
- It has some humor – It’s somewhat funny to picture the Earth needing a lawyer in court.
LÄRABAR: “Simple. Pure. Delicious.”
Last up is Lärabar, who makes energy bars.
Here are the biggest strengths of this tagline:
- Matches with company identity – Lärabar is all about simplicity, and this tagline is as simple as it gets.
- Mentions their most important product values: the bars are simple and delicious.
- Short, but clear message – The word “bar” is included in their name. So, even with the short tagline, it’s easy to know what business they’re in (the food business) and what sets them apart.
How to Create a Tagline for Your Small Business
I’d like to leave you with a series of tips and steps you can take to create your own small business tagline.
It’s tricky since creating a tagline is a creative process, but I’ll be as specific as possible.
Start With Your Company’s Values
Many of the best taglines incorporate the company’s values.
So start with jotting down a list of your values. Don’t worry about the full tagline yet.
For a coffee shop that might be:
- Being sustainable
- Being environmentally friendly
- Creating a welcoming environment for customers
We’ll come back to these shortly.
Describe Your Strengths
Why do people choose your business over another business?
Again, for a coffee shop, that might be:
- The quality of the coffee
- The sustainability of the coffee
- The environment (to work or meet friends)
- Specialty treats that you offer
Focus on what makes you different from competitors.
Again, brainstorm these and list them down.
Keep it Simple and Clear
This is the most important lesson from all those examples.
Yes, some creativity is good, but not when it makes your tagline vague.
Creativity, when used, should incorporate relevant parts of your business identity.
Remember that simple doesn’t always equal short. While you don’t want “fluff” in your tagline, clarity comes first.
Focus first on the meaning you want to get across, and then trim it down if possible.
Bring it All Together and Trim to One Line
Now you want to describe how you see your business using your values and strengths in a paragraph. Make it as long as necessary.
It might start as:
Dale’s Coffee is a coffee shop founded on trying to reduce the impact of coffee consumption by focusing on sustainable and environmentally-friendly products. Customers come to reduce their impact on the planet and to meet like-minded people in a friendly environment.
Next, you want to identify the most important parts of your paragraph. I’ve highlighted 2 parts that are related to each other, and most importantly, relate to the benefit of this business existing.
So now I would trim it down by removing the excess and come up with something like:
Reducing the impact of coffee consumption on the planet.
That’s not bad for a tagline.
Once your message is clear, then you can try to get creative and trim down even further. Here’s what I would end up with here:
Reduce your impact one cup at a time.
It’s short, clear, and communicates the identity of the business, and the benefit to the consumer.
Brainstorm With Tagline Generators
If you do end up getting stuck and can’t seem to make progress, play around with a tagline or slogan generator.
Obviously, these won’t generate perfect results, but they kickstart the creative process if you need help.
A tagline might just be a few words, but it will stick with your business for a long time.
Choose one carefully, and consider hiring a professional copywriter if you need help.
If you’re brainstorming a tagline as a group, get everyone to read this guide so that you’re on the same page.
Contributing Editor: Bronwynne Powell