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Tag Lines: How to Make a Good One

By Joe Miller | July 31, 2014

Tag Lines: Experience the Difference. Then Make a Good One.

“Experience the Difference.”

“Tomorrow’s Solutions, Today.”

“The Strength to Be There.”

“Excellence Through Total Quality.”

“We Make It Better.”

“Ask Why.”

These are actual tag lines.

Not much about these lines is appealing to an actual person. They could be connected to medical equipment or banks or lawn mowers. Not one illuminates a unique market position. None are memorable.

How do we create an effective tag line? We research and figure out what and who the brand is, inside and out. Then we determine what function the tag line needs to fulfill. All tag lines need to communicate a brand position. Aside from that basic function, does your line need to describe, promise, connect or educate? No matter what, a good tag line should be as many of these as possible:

  • Unambiguous
  • Beneficial
  • Descriptive
  • Logical
  • Balanced
  • Unique

For example, right now we’re creating two new brands for launch. One of the new brand names is very conceptual in nature. Because of that, we knew the tag line needed to be descriptive, connecting the conceptual to the tangible – a concise, balanced description of services that includes a unique positioning. We did it with four words.

Once we know what the line needs to do, we create word maps and build from there. We put words and phrases together, review them internally, eliminate the bad, develop the good and refine, refine and refine for clarity, clarity and more clarity. Then we get buy-in from client and staff. The only way branding works, by the way, is with staff buy-in and support. Unless you’re lucky (which is not a good tag line, btw).

The bottom line is, your tag line is your logo in words. It makes a difference. When you’re creating a new one, filter your ideas through these criteria:

  • Avoid the temptation to sound like everyone else.
  • Don’t be afraid to claim a strong position you can own.
  • Resist using business jargon.
  • Make sure it makes sense when you say it out loud.
  • Can you attract the attention you want (sales?) with just your tag line?
  • Let trends pass; aim for something you can own for a long time.

A tag line should be able to last for a generation. That’s a difference worth experiencing.



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Joe Miller

Joe delivers copy, generates concepts, and helps determine strategy. He’s been doing it since 1991 when he started working with a small downtown Cleveland marketing firm. Joe joined the designRoom team as a freelance writer in 1993. He has an annoying knack for finding the core of a problem and the heart of a solution. He also makes the best coffee in the office. In early 2008 he joined the Marketing & Communications team at the Ohio Lottery. While there, Joe led the team that developed and implemented the Lottery’s first-ever social media initiative and crafted the Ohio Policy and Procedures and Terms of Use that guided all the Lottery’s social media involvement. In addition, he created a Winners are Everywhere campaign and managed the creative agency responsible for its implementation. Joe is also a professional musician and educator and occasional composer. He’s the Jazz Trumpet faculty and Jazz Combo conductor at Cleveland State University and has performed all over the world.

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