Taglines, are they important?

Recently, i sat in the boardroom of an Australian bank discussing their proposed rebranding.

The discussion became rather conflicting when we approached the topic of the new tagline.  I left this meeting pondering the question as to whether they even need a tagline? Especially when their new brand tells consumers exactly what they are…a bank!

After some initial research, i discovered that taglines are an important component of branding; yet are not integral in a successful brand. Google is a prime example of this.

One critic said that ‘taglines are outdated’ and become irrelevent.  For instance, Jason Chen blogged how LG has needed to tone down their “Life’s Good” campaign in light of the fact that life really isn’t so good for a lot of people right now. Instead of focusing on telling people that their existence is peachy, LG’s new ads focuses on what the product can do to make life easier.  Those who are pessimistic about taglines, usually hold this view due the fact that many taglines just don’t cut the mustard, so to speak.

On the other hand, Brenda Keener wrote taglines stick in the minds of potential customers, and very quickly convey corporate imaging. Keener also highlights the recent trend for the rebranding of consumer products through using new taglines; with the examples of Kellogg’s “Earn Your Stripes” being used with Frosted Flakes, and the McDonald’s “I’m Lovin’ It”.

Blogger Jay Ehret wrote that good taglines perform three important functions.

  1. They cut through the clutter and communicate your brand promise in a sticky, memorable way.
  2. They remind you of your own brand promise.
  3. They are the customers’ indicator of a future experience.

A good tagline is the single-most powerful, condensed, compact expression for a brand.  And, if the need arises it can be always be reinvigorated, as per the Frosted Flakes and McDonalds examples.  This has also been the case for Coke, which has seen many taglines in the past 30 years, most are memorable.

  • It’s the Real Thing [1970]
  • I’d like to buy the world a Coke [1971]
  • Coke adds life [1976]
  • Have a Coke and a smile [1979]
  • Catch the Wave [1986]
  • Can’t beat the Real Thing [1990]
  • Always Coca-Cola [1993]
  • Enjoy [1996]
  • All the world loves a Coke [2002]
  • Welcome to the coke side of life [2005]

In conclusion, if done correctly, taglines are an important part of the brand.  They help your brand tick…and stick!