a tagline has to convey as much meaning as possible in as few words as possible

Taglines are like short stories that no one understands.

Taglines may be the most difficult part of branding. And provide the least value.

Why? Because a tagline has to convey as much meaning as possible in as few words as possible. Brevity usually trumps content, turning what was once a meaningful thought into corporate jargon.

Don’t believe me? Take a look at The Financial Brand’s list of taglines – most don’t even seem connected to the names listed next to it. You could pretty much toss all the taglines in one box, bank and CU names in another, and draw out random pairs.

So if a tagline is difficult to create, hard to connect to a specific name, and often so generic that no one remembers it – is it really necessary in branding?

Probably not.

The most important thing to remember about branding is that you want to make people care. You want to make a strong, emotional connection to your potential members/customers, since that is the most effective way to create loyalty and spur action.

The best way to create that strong emotional connection is to tell stories. 

Stories are what people remember. Stories are what connects one human to another.

Keep them simple, keep them short (just not as short as a tagline), and don’t be afraid to make them personal: how you helped these people, how you connected those people, how you have made the world a little better place.

Once you have your stories, go back and look at your tagline.

If your tagline helps to tell those stories, keep it. If it doesn’t, or seems too vague, dump it. If you’ve dumped the old one but still think you need a tagline, try creating a series of them that work with your stories and can be used as needed.

But by all means, if you are going to use a tagline, at least make it something people can understand.

Kent Dicken

Email this article to a friend or coworker.