The Overlooked Tagline: A Powerhouse Branding Tool by @iamronii

Photo Credit: World Bank Photo Collection via Compfight cc
Photo Credit: World Bank Photo Collection via Compfight cc

by Ronii Bartles | Featured Contributor

Taglines sometimes get a bad rap. I think that’s because generally when they are bad they are really bad. BUT… when they are good, they are GREAT. The ones that are great are iconic and can be argued that they are more recognized than the brand itself.

Remember these?

  • Just do it.
  • Snap, Crackle, Pop
  • Think Different.
  • A diamond is forever.
  • Where’s the beef?
  • Melts in your mouth, not in your hand.
  • You’re in good hands.

So simple, yet so powerful. You instantly know the brand and what it does and what it stands for. A good tagline is short, concise and telling. Read through these again. Pause after each one and tell me how you feel after reading each one.  Do you feel empowered, joyful, innovative, glamorous, hungry, happy or safe? That’s the power of the tagline. It makes you feel something. And feeling is the key to good marketing and branding.

You see, people don’t buy what they need. They buy what they want to feel. It’s psychology. I do it. You do it. So why is it that when we sit down and start writing copy or start our sales process or design our brand we start with all the great things our product and service does? Not how it makes you feel. This is not a new idea or one that I came up with. So I might be preaching to the choir but we still fall into our old habits.

Here’s an exercise we do when we are working on brand taglines. Get out a big stack of index cards. Write one word on each card with a Sharpie (these are very specific instructions so it must be a Sharpie and no, I am not paid to promote Sharpie). Each one of these words describes your brand – what it does, what it stands for, how if makes you feel. You need a good mix of verbs, nouns and adjectives. Just let it flow.

Sometimes we end up with over 200 index cards. Then take all those words and start matching them up with other words. You’ll come up with all kinds of wacky stuff. And this is a really fun exercise with you team or close business colleagues over a few beers or (as we do it at B&A) a bottle of champagne. You’ll have some great break throughs and then some… maybe some not so great ones. Then you can weed through them and nail down that great tagline or phrase that really describes your brand in 3 to 5 to 7 words.

The other nice thing about this exercise is, then you have a library of words that you can pull from in all your other marketing communications so that you are always on point with all your marketing campaigns and brand communications.

Here are the answers to those tags above in case you didn’t know them:

  1. Nike
  2. Rice Krispies
  3. Apple
  4. De Beers
  5. Wendy’s
  6. M&Ms
  7. Allstate

Let’s talk about you now. Do you use a tagline for your brand? How has it worked for you? How did you develop it? Leave us a comment and give us your thoughts on the under-utilized, yet powerful, tagline.


Ronii Bartles – Marketing & Branding Expert from Bartles & Associates – Charleston, SC

Ronii Bartles HeadshotRonii is Bartles & Associates’ self-proclaimed Chief Rockstar. She has a whole list of amazing (but slightly boring) credentials like a Bachelor’s Degree from Shepherd University, a MBA from The Citadel, The Lowcountry Business Network Advisory Board Member and is President of the Charleston American Marketing Association, where she was also a 2012 Marketer of the Year Finalist. She loves to go around telling people that she actually is one of the Most Influential Women in Business in Charleston and a 40 Under 40 winner because the Business Journal told her so. Professionally, Ronii grew up in the marketing research industry and has been Director of Operations at ARG and W5. She took all that experience and started Bartles & Associates and where Ronii and her team work with creative entrepreneurs and small businesses on developing branding and marketing strategies around what they do best, which they lovingly call Operations Marketing. B&A helps businesses uncork their potential by uncovering their WHY and then crafting that message into concise, memorable brand stories and marketing messages. Ronii is an active volunteer with Big Brothers Big Sisters for over twelve years, and won Big Sister of the Year in 2008. Originally from West Virginia (you can take the girl out of WV but you can’t take the WV out of the girl), she loves beer, college football (Let’s GOOO Mountaineers!), pizza, jeans and a t-shirt, and designer high heels. You can connect with Ronii on Twitter or LinkedIn or email her.

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One Reply to “The Overlooked Tagline: A Powerhouse Branding Tool by @iamronii”

  1. Andrea Ja'Cole

    I am working on building my brand. This article us really going to help me. Thank you!

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