Taglines Versus Slogans: Understanding The Building Blocks of A Successful Brand.
Tom Bodett, spokesperson for Motel 6, was stuck with a short script during a radio spot almost 30 years ago. He read through the script and quickly needed to think of something to fill the remaining seconds. What came out of his mouth was a tagline that would define Motel 6 for years to come – “And we’ll leave the lights on for you.” Understanding the differences between taglines versus slogans can help you create something equally iconic.
Let’s start with the tagline side of our taglines versus slogans exploration. Taglines differ from slogans in that they are meant to have longevity. Where slogans can change with every new marketing campaign, taglines generally only change when a company wants to do a complete rebranding. For that reason, crafting an effective tagline is so important in establishing your brand.
Taglines are the lasting impression that you leave with your audience. When you hear “the happiest place on earth,” or “melts in your mouth and not in your hand,” your mind instantly gravitates towards magical castles and chocolatey treats. Admit it, both of those things sounds pretty nice right now, right? An effective tagline makes your brand memorable for those who are familiar with it, and immediately understandable for those who are new to your brand. The most important factor in a successful tagline is functionality. Of course, the most fun way to illustrate functionality over cleverness is to show examples of awful taglines. Which is exactly what we’re going to do now with examples from different movies.
Worst Movie Taglines
- Basic Instinct 2
Tagline: “Everything interesting begins in the mind.”
This must be the most obvious statement ever made. Does the knowledge that interesting things begin in the mind make you want to watch this movie? Probably not.
Tagline: Enter The World
This feels like someone starting writing a tagline, and just quit halfway. What world are we entering? Why should we want to entire this world?
- Indiana Jones & The Last Crusade
Tagline: The Man With The Hat Is Back And This Time He’s Bringing His Dad.
When was the last time you got excited because someone’s Dad was coming over? Imagine having this conversation with your friend:
You: Hey, do you want to come over?
Friend: Yes. And I’m bring my Dad!!
Dad’s aren’t really material for a compelling tagline.
This is what happens when you value cuteness over functionality when it comes to taglines. That being said – don’t be scared of injecting some personality and creativity. You just don’t want to sacrifice functionality at the cost of an overly clever tagline. Consider YouTube’s tagline, “Broadcast Yourself,” or the classic, “Got Milk?” These taglines are both clever and functional, and it’s no coincidence that they’ve been extremely successful.
Now that we have the groundwork of a tagline established, let’s shift gears towards the slogan side of our taglines versus slogans exploration. Imagine you’re building a home. If taglines are the furniture, then slogans are like decorations. Furniture usually doesn’t change much, but decorations change with the seasons. Likewise, slogans can change depending upon new campaigns, product launches, or in reaction to events happening in the world. The benefit of malleable slogans is that you can respond to trends and appear fresh to your audience.
The best slogans are short and catchy. Tell me what you think of when you hear “Just do it!” Can you hear the squeaking sneakers and slam dunks from a Nike ad? The iconic “Just do it!” started out as a simple slogan (but eventually graduated to a tagline because it was so well known). The slogan, “Just do it!” is a prime example of a short and catchy slogan. All Nike needed was three words to come up with something universal. When you look at the top 40 best advertising slogans, you can see that each are around six words or less. We would strongly recommend that you follow suit and limit your word count on slogans as well.
“Catering to Cowards”
You also want to focus in on what makes your new campaign unique. What are you now offering that your competitors are not? Take this random dentist’s office – Crossoak Family Dentistry. Yes, their website is a little dated, but look at that slogan, “We Cater To Cowards.” In only 5 words, Crossoak Family Dentistry communicates a strong benefit in a catchy way. For all of us that are deathly afraid of the dentist, this is a slogan that certainly resonates. Think of what separates your brand from others, and craft a slogan based around that benefit.
As far as bad examples are concerned, for our money it doesn’t get much worse than Carl’s Jr.’s “If It Doesn’t Get All Over The Place, It Doesn’t Belong In Your Face.” For starters, it’s far too long with clunky negative statements. But that’s hardly the worst thing about this slogan. The essence is a weird combination of ungraceful, distasteful, and unsanitary, not to mention grossly unhealthy. There’s many things in the world that deserve celebrating, and being a messy eater certainly is not one of them. Growing up in the 90’s when this ad was at its most prominent, I can confidently say that this slogan never made me hungry for Carl’s Jr.
In summary, slogans and short, malleable phrases that are typically used for new marketing campaigns. Conversely, taglines are more permanent phrases that attach themselves to a brand like a logo. Understanding the difference between taglines versus slogans, and making them work harmoniously is a huge part of building a successful brand.