How to Improve Tag Lines and Corporate Slogans

Let’s talk about corporate slogans — the short, pithy phrases or sentences that run next to logos at the bottom of ads, on envelopes, billboards, buses … or appear in the last seconds of TV commercials.

You know what I’m talking about. Lines like:

“Sun. We make the net work.”

Or . . .

“SAP. The best-run E-businesses run SAP.”

I don’t want to discuss the subject of corporate slogans because I think they’re so terribly important in themselves. On the contrary. I think that most companies can do very well without a slogan.

The reason I want to put them under the microscope is because they reflect how companies position themselves — or don’t position themselves.

At its best, a corporate slogan is like a Japanese haiku — a highly concentrated form of expression that attempts to communicate an essence, a distilled truth loaded with meaning and significance. At its worst, it’s puffed-up, self-congratulatory nonsense.

Let’s take a look at some corporate slogans, good and bad, and see what we can learn from them.

What do you think of this one that an airplane manufacturer is using in Forbes?

“Gulfstream. The World Standard.”

For me, the problem with the line is that it’s completely generic. You could just as well say:

“Fidelity Investments. The World Standard.”
“Intel. The World Standard.”
“Harry’s Hamburgers. The World Standard.”

Because “The World Standard” is generic and works equally well (or poorly!) for any company, I think it’s very weak.

What do you think about this tag line?

“The Land Rover Experience.”

Same problem. You could say “The Crest Toothpaste Experience” or flip it and say “Experience Crest Toothpaste” or expand it and say “Experience Crest Toothpaste. The World Standard.”

It just doesn’t matter what you do with clichés. You’re still going to wind up with junk. And that’s the point worth remembering. GENERIC IS BAD. Expect your copywriter to search for what makes your product or service unique and highlight that “Unique Selling Proposition” in the slogan.

What about this tag line from yet another airplane manufacturing company?

“Dassault Falcon. Engineered With Passion.”

Here, we run up against the problem of the “new hot word.” In this case, “passion.”

Companies these days are passionate about everything. “Passionate about customer care.” “Passionate about quality.” “Passionate about engineering.”

Give me a break! When I buy something I just hope it works and doesn’t break right away. Whether the manufacturer is passionate or not is of little interest.

Are all slogans weak and flabby? Not at all. Some are absolutely terrific.

How about this classic line from Hallmark greeting cards?

“Hallmark. When you care enough to send the very best.”

The line has a wonderful rhythm and flow. And the tone is absolutely right. Dignified and thoughtful. Best of all, the psychology is perfect. When someone sends a birthday card, Valentine card, condolence card or whatever, it has deep meaning (or should.) You don’t want to send just anything. You want the card to reflect your tender feelings and appreciation of the recipient. So you send Hallmark.

When you care enough to send the very best.

My favorite new slogan comes from Taco Bell.

“Taco Bell. Think outside the bun.”

Playing off the pun on “Think outside the box,” Taco Bell is able to instantly position itself against hamburgers.
The line is saying, “Hey, you want fast food? You don’t have to go to McDonald’s or Burger King. You have a
terrific alternative.”

In other words, the line is actually DOING something. It is waking burger customers up and steering them to Taco Bell. A lot better than saying:

Publish date: April 7, 2011 © 2020 Adweek, LLC. - All Rights Reserved and NOT FOR REPRINT