Archives for May 24, 2011

Branding 101: three distinct types of taglines, and when to use them in your brand’s lifecycle.

best slogan or tagline

I’m was recently working with DemandQuest Marketing Institute on a few minor branding and marketing issues, when the subject of taglines came up.¬† Their website tagline read DemandQuest – Achieve Marketing Clarity. That sounded nice, but was it the right approach for a startup company specializing in marketing training? It dawned on me when I picked up their promotional pen they gave me at one of their seminars. It read DemandQuest – Marketing Institute. Not surprisingly, whoever made the decision to use that tagline had the correct instincts. Because, in the realm of branding and using taglines, there are three very distinct types, all used for different purposes at different phases of of the brand lifecycle:

  1. The Descriptor — In DemandQuest’s case, or any start-up unknown in the marketplace, this is the safest approach. Your tagline should simple describe who you are and what we do, in simple, straightforward terms. We’re not trying to get cute in any way: DemandQuest Marketing Institute. That’s pretty clear to anyone on any first impression, stating precisely who we are and what we do. This approach is perfect for the new business with a new brand when clarity is absolutely critical, and ambiguity is dangerous. If you want your tagline to work a little harder, try the next approach.
  2. The Selling Proposition — We’ve all seen these, the mini-slogan that states your value proposition in 3-5 words. For example, ‘Johnson Printing – top quality, lower prices.’ Personally I hate these, because they make you look needy, unless of course you’ve really got a great selling proposition, and you can pare it down to 3-5 words, like ‘the quicker picker upper’ or ‘good to the last drop’ or something catchy. Unfortunately, most start-ups don’t have the dough to pay a big-time writer¬† to create something like that. It’s not to say that a straightforward selling proposition or brand promise won’t work. Just keep it simple. Not sure what DemandQuest would use in this scenario, but ‘Achieve Marketing Clarity’ was not a bad attempt, it just muddied the message. It was more like the next approach.
  3. Aspirational — Finally, if your brand is all grown up, and well established in the marketplace, you may want to consider this approach. It speaks more to your philosophy, than your value proposition. Obviously, ‘Just do it’ is one of the all time greatest, and is perhaps best example of taking a brand to the next level where it’s not about the product anymore. This approach is more about connecting on a human level about a value, or just saying ‘hey, we’re just like you.