When someone refers to “Think different” or “Just do it” we have little trouble thinking of Apple or Nike, respectively. But creating a message that summarizes in a few words what a brand stands for is not easy. A good tagline helps the audience first to remember, then to associate the brand with a differential value. The best ones even manage to work on their own, without the need for the brand, as is the case with the previous examples.

As with other terms, it is true that there is often no clear consensus on the terms themselves: tagline, claim, slogan, slogan. From a branding point of view, the main difference lies in the different objectives of each.

What is a tagline?

The term tagline translates to slogan in Spanish. The same concept is also sometimes referred to by the terms baseline or endline. Let’s see, a tagline is a short phrase that captures the essence, personality, and positioning of a brand, and distinguishes it from its competitors. Its main purpose is to help the audience associate the brand with an idea, therefore, it is a great tool to achieve differentiation in the early stages of a brand.

The tagline must encapsulate the essence of the brand, its reason for existing, either through a single word or through a short phrase. Therefore, it is something that must remain over time unless there is a strategic change in the positioning of the brand. It must be approached from a double perspective: from the DNA of what the brand is today and from what it aspires to be in the future. To a large extent, it exists to advance one step further in the emotional connection with customers.

A tagline will be impactful and memorable to the extent that it is original through an inspiring language that does not leave you indifferent. Always in line with the personality of the brand since it represents part of its very expression and has the possibility of becoming a defensive measure against competitors.

What is a claim?

A claim or slogan is a phrase that reinforces a communication or advertising campaign. A curious fact is that “slogan” comes from the Gaelic term “slaugh-ghairm“, which means “war cry”. Quite a statement of intent if we put it in context.

A claim is more flexible than a tagline, it can change from one campaign to another without posing a threat to the brand since it usually focuses on a product or service of the company. On some occasions it can happen that a strong claim is transformed into a tagline. Everyone assumes that “Think different” was created as an Apple tagline , but the reality is that it was born as a slogan for a communication campaign in 1997, although its strength led it to later become the brand’s tagline . The same thing happened with Nike’s “Just do it” or McDonald’s “I’m lovin’ it.”

Tagline Types

There are different types of taglines that range from a rational perspective to a more emotional and aspirational one:

  1. Functional: Very descriptive and aligned with the purpose of the business.
    Example: Nokia – Connecting people
  2. Relational: Designed to strengthen the relationship between the brand and its target.
    Example: Gillette -Best for Man
  3. Attributes: Focused on promoting the tangible characteristics that position the brand as the best in its category.
    Example: Budweiser –The King of beers
  4. Persuasive: Built to seduce, they seek reflection on the message.
    Example: Honda – The power of dreams
  5. Challenging: They propose a call to action to make an impact.
    Example: Verizon –Can you hear me now?

Be that as it may, what is clear is that the creation of a tagline combines science and art. The first because it is necessary to start from a strategy, the second because a large dose of creativity will have to be added. There is no foolproof method, an excellent result can be achieved in different ways, but you can be guided by the following steps:

How to write a tagline

  1. Review your brand strategy. A good tagline is based on brand positioning and should reflect a specific personality. All this with the aim of building or reinforcing a concrete meaning, a clear idea of what the brand represents, why it is significant and how it makes us feel.
  2. Reinforce your difference. A tagline that states the most obvious is not appropriate for a brand that aims to build its own meaning. Find your “Why“, why the brand should matter to someone. What really makes it relevant and different. Think about which of the 5 typologies above can best help you communicate your brand’s value.
  3. Inject emotion. A compelling tagline always needs a dose of emotion, which is directly related to the brand’s main raison d’être. Write your proposals taking into account the personality of the brand, only then will you ensure that it is the brand that really speaks and transmits trust.
  4. Synthesize and synthesize again. Put all the information in one paragraph and distill the core of what you’re trying to explain. Outline your ideas, clarify concepts, and absorb the true essence of your brand by encompassing the most significant concepts. When you have it, try synthesizing again. It’s not easy, maybe in 3 words you can only convey a vague concept, but therein lies the magic of a great tagline.
  5. Protect your treasure. Your tagline is part of your brand, it’s just another asset that you don’t want someone else to use in your place. Make sure you protect and register it just like you registered your brand name and logo.

Let’s not lose sight of the fact that the ultimate goal is for the audience to be able to quickly and easily understand the message, so a great tagline should include the following ingredients:

  • KISS principle. Keep it short and simple. It conveys a single idea.
  • Avoid clichés. It avoids clichés, it is differential.
  • Creativity + credibility. It is inspirational and has an acceptable degree of aspirationality.

Associating a tagline with a brand by adding it to your logo is a good idea, although it’s not always necessary. In some cases, it may be used against a reputational problem of the brand, as happened to Audi after the scandal of its parent company Volkswagen and the emissions problems of its diesel vehicles. Audi’s tagline – “Truth in engineering” – became a trap.

Not all big brands have a tagline, although it is clear that on the other hand they invest a lot in communication. In reality, this is a great opportunity for smaller brands and those just starting out, as it is a critical tool for establishing an initial position in the market by associating the brand with the value they offer. But regardless of how big or small you are, if you can communicate a benefit clearly and creatively, with a good tagline you can reinforce your differentiation and connection with those you’re trying to reach.

You know, the value of an idea lies in how you use it.


Carlos Puig Falcó
CEO of Branward