What Makes a Great Tagline: 5 Tips for Creating a Catchy Slogan

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At its most simple, a tagline serves as a catchy phrase representing the nature of your business. 

“Things go better with Coke.”  

“Finger lickin’ good.” 

“We try harder.”

Each of these is an example of taglines so good they withstood the test of time and remain associated with Coca Cola, KFC and Avis, even though they haven’t been used in years.

This is because they described, in a succinct fashion, what made each company unique and communicated a benefit. Keeping this in mind when you design a logo will help you create a “sticky” combination.

Here’s what you need to do.

Strive for Simplicity

Each of the taglines above is short, to the point and uses basic language.

Rather than wowing people with the depth and breadth of your vocabulary, delight them with your grasp of language and your ability to turn simple phrases into powerful statements.

If your tagline idea runs more than 10 words, you need to give it some more thought and pare it down. 

Read also: 5 Key Elements of a Strong Logo

Ensure Functionality 

Ideally, your tagline will communicate your values while also giving people a sense of what you do.

In other words, your tagline should tell your story in ten words or less when it’s combined with your company’s name.

Kentucky Fried Chicken; it’s finger lickin’ good. The word choice conveys the company’s homespun roots, while also communicating an experience capable of delighting your taste buds. 

Hey, who doesn’t want chicken so good you’ll lick the grease from your fingers?

Prompt Visualization

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The words you choose should inspire people to create pictures in their heads.

Getting back to the KFC tagline, you can see yourself licking your fingers after eating a piece of the chicken—and the image makes you want to do so.

Meanwhile, “Things go better with Coke;” conjured a multiplicity of images.

You see people having a good time while enjoying a frosty bottle of the beverage. But you can also see it sitting on a red and white checkered tablecloth next to a juicy burger and fries. 

Such is the power of a great tagline.

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Play on Words

When possible, give your tagline more than one meaning.

A literal reading should convey the value you provide for the customer, while the secondary meaning should make people smile at its cleverness. This will make it more memorable. 

Returning to our examples above, Avis’s “We try harder.” says you can count on the company to do everything possible to ensure your car renting experience is a pleasant one. But it also takes a jab at the company’s chief competitor, saying Avis tries harder because it has to in order to be competitive. 

Aim for Timelessness 

Back in the early days of mobile phones, spotty service was considered a justifiable tradeoff for the convenience of having a phone you could use just about anywhere.

Verizon capitalized on this by implying its service was more reliable than all others with its “Can you hear me now?” campaign. 

However, as technology improved and dropped calls became a thing of the past, the resonance of that tagline was reduced.

Further, people don’t really “talk” on smartphones today—they text. Yes, people still think of Verizon when they hear it the line (even though Sprint tried to hijack it). But it no longer speaks to a fundamental truth in the marketplace. 

Long story short, the idea of what makes a great tagline can be boiled down to crafting a phrase with simplicity and timelessness—while communicating your unique value proposition in ten words or less. And, if you can work in a clever play on words, that’s even better.

So basically, think different and just do it.

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