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  • Writer's pictureIan Morris

Eureka! 5 Of The Best Brand Taglines

Cartoon representing confusion or looking for the right words

Coming up with a tagline – can’t be that hard, right? Four or five words summing up the brand. Simples.

If only that were true.

In actual fact, that seemingly innocent handful of words can take months of thought, a few hundred failed attempts, and many hours’ boardroom deliberation before it’s finally given the green light. And even then it might not go the distance.  

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More To A Tagline Than Meets The Eye

Basically, the job of these short, snappy slogans is to get across the value of a brand or its products in one easy hit. It’s important that it gets the emotions flowing and leaves people with positive vibes towards the brand.

And therein lies the difficulty. It’s incredibly hard to be succinct at the best of times, and it’s even harder when you’re trying to create a strong emotional connection with those few little words.

How Do The Big Brands Do It?

Some brands go for the direct approach, using their tagline to sum up the product offering. But, increasingly, companies are opting for abstract taglines in a bid to give people the feels for their brand. McDonald’s catchy ‘I’m lovin’ it’, for example, doesn’t say a thing about fast food but it does trigger the feel-good factor and a positive attitude.

The Holy Grail is the tagline that’s memorable and powerful in equal measure. Like the 5 we’ve picked out below. Oh to have been in on the brainstorming sessions when these famous lines were born…

1. Nike – Just Do It

With some of the best brand taglines, the eureka moment is obvious. Everything clicks into place in a lightning bolt of inspiration. But we can’t help but wonder how the creators of this one had the confidence to go for it – especially when it was inspired by the last words of a killer. Convicted murderer, Gary Gilmore, allegedly told his firing squad ‘Let’s do it’, a command that was tweaked by the ad agency to become the phrase we all know today.

Initially, the agency came up with the line to provide some cohesion across Nike’s first major TV campaign. Nike were reluctant to go for it, questioning whether a tagline was needed, but agreed on the basis they could always drop it for the next campaign. But in one fell swoop, these three little words took the brand from a sports clothing manufacturer to an inspiring visionary promising you that anything’s possible if you ‘Just do it’. Nearly 35 years later the tagline is still going strong.

2. TUI – We cross the ‘T’s, dot the ‘I’s and put ‘U’ in the middle.

As a name, TUI (pronounced Too-ee) isn’t one that trips off the tongue or sticks in the mind. So when it came to announcing household name Thomson was to become TUI, the ad agency had its work cut out. We can only imagine their joy when they hit upon this tagline, though.

The memorable slogan, part of a huge advertising campaign, literally spelt out the new hard-to-remember name. Not only that, it simultaneously spelt out two more things – firstly, TUI’s commitment to nailing the details and secondly, their promise to put customers at the heart of everything they do. Slow claps all round.

Alas, these things are never without a bump in the road, though, and it didn’t take long before people took to social media to point out there’s not a dot on the capital ‘I’ in TUI. Details, details…

3. Tesco – Every Little Helps

Quite how a supermarket chain took a simple, everyday saying and made it their own is beyond us, but we all think of Tesco when we hear these three little words.

The fact it’s an everyday phrase, the conversational tone, the simplicity of the message – it all adds up to convey that Tesco is a down-to-earth brand for the people.

The idea stemmed from a piece of research carried out back in the Nineties, which concluded that consumers wanted a better shopping trip. The supermarket giant set about making changes including in-store baby-changing facilities and a no-quibble returns policy. These, in turn, let to the idea of ‘Every Little Helps’, which, strangely, makes you think more of a friendly little village store than a multinational giant. The power of words…

4. Marmite – You either love it or hate it

First rule of thumb – avoid negative words in your tagline as that’s the word that’ll stick in people’s minds. Well, Marmite ignored that one and just as well, as it landed one of the most memorable taglines in brand history.

The idea came from two London-based creatives who, yep you guessed it, had very different views on the taste of Marmite. One thing they did agree on, though, was that the yeast extract polarised opinion like nothing else, a fact they deemed worthy of exploring in their advertising campaign.

It was a tough pitch to put to their client – asking them to use the word ‘hate’ across their branding – but savvy Marmite lapped it up and the slogan has been going strong for 25 years.

5. BMW – The Ultimate Driving Machine

It’s the sheer confidence of this one that we love. It’s saying ‘we’re the best and we’re not afraid to say it’. Unveiled in the 1970s, it remains the most famous car slogan around and even though BMW has released other ones since (‘Sheer driving pleasure’ – not a patch, we know), this is the one it’s best-known for.

The tagline was dreamt up in the 1970s by a little-known ad agency that had caught the eye of BMW’s Bob Lutz. It was aimed at the baby boomers who, fresh out of college, were looking to spend their new wages on a premium car. The pull of ‘the ultimate driving machine’ proved too much to resist.

Of course, there’s one key thing to remember if you’re going to make a claim as bold as this, your product must live up to the hype. Thankfully, for millions of drivers all over world, BMW cars do exactly that.

How To Write The Best Brand Taglines

Use simple, clear language

You want people to glance at your tagline and get it. For that, you need short, snappy words that are easy to say and quick to digest.

Make it positive

Use upbeat words, so there’s a feel-good factor to your message. Admittedly some brands have successfully strayed from this – Avis triumphed with We’re number 2, we try harder – but it’s a gamble.

Keep it short and sweet

As a rough rule of thumb, keep it to seven words or under and you’ll stand a better chance of people committing it to memory.

Hit the right tone

Are you after something playful like KFC’s Finger Lickin’ Good, or serious like De Beers’ A Diamond Is Forever. Used carefully, humour can work, too. We love Old Spice’s effort The original. If your grandfather hadn’t worn it, you wouldn’t exist.

Descriptive or abstract?

Try both. Apple’s Think Different works for the most recognised brand on the planet, but sometimes it pays for lesser-known companies to have something a little more self-explanatory.

Introduce a benefit

Think about what someone will get from you that they won’t get anywhere else. Can you get this in your tagline? M&M nailed it with the classic Melts in your mouth, not your hand

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