How to create a tagline

What do you think of when you hear the word ‘Simples’?

Personally, I don’t think of something that’s really easy. I think of a meerkat with a Russian accent, wearing a dressing gown and advertising a price comparison website.

How about the phrase ‘It Gives You Wings’? Does it bring to mind a parachute or an aeroplane? Nope, try an energy drink that will make your kids hyper.

‘Maybe She’s Born With It. Maybe It’s…’ a nose? Free thought? The determination to take down the patriarchy? Don’t be silly, it’s obviously lipstick!

Welcome to the weird and wonderful world of taglines. These are the little catchphrases that invade your brain and lie in wait until the day you realise you can no longer read the number on the bus, and think to yourself, ‘I Should Have Gone To Specsavers.’ They’re what your head of marketing dreams of in bed every night. But what is the secret to a good tagline?

The Devil on your Shoulder

Some of the best taglines are like the devil on your shoulder, reminding you of their product at just the moment you most want them. Fancy a drink? How about the ‘King of Beers’, Budweiser, or what is ‘Probably The Best Lager In The World’, Carlsberg? In the mood for some chocolate? I hear Lindt is the ‘Master Chocolatier’. Unsurprisingly, these kinds of taglines are especially good for food and beverages – once they get in your head, there’s really only one way to satisfy that desire.

Reverse Psychology

In Britain, we’re big on self-deprecation, and whilst taglines might seem like the last place you’d expect to see this, it can actually work out surprisingly well. Ask the manufacturers of Marmite, for example. Their ‘You Either Love It Or Hate It’ campaign has been running for over twenty years and they’re as popular (and unpopular) as ever. Likewise, Dr. Pepper’s ‘What’s The Worst That Could Happen?’ tagline is seemingly a PR disaster waiting to happen, but they’ve been using that one since the ‘80s.

It Does Exactly What it Says on the Tin

When in doubt, just say what you sell. If you’re new on the block, then this is the best place to start; it helps people associate your name with the industry you’re working in, and you don’t have to waste time explaining what you do. Take YouTube, for example. When they first started in 2005, they changed the video production industry forever. Suddenly every Tom, Dick and Harry could film themselves and share their video with the entire world. So, what’s their tagline? ‘Broadcast Yourself’. It’s blunt, gets straight to the point, and tells you what you need to know.

The Enigmas

Of course, there will always be those taglines that forsake reason. The meerkats of the world, if you get me? Like the animatronic bulldog selling you insurance by going ‘Oh, yes’. These taglines are virtually impossible to predict and have often arisen from off-hand remarks in adverts that were picked up by common vernacular before being officially adopted by manufacturers. Although, even that doesn’t explain why Google’s tagline is ‘Don’t Be Evil’!

Fill in the blanks. Can you remember the companies that go with these taglines?

1. This isn’t just food, it’s ___ food.
2. That’s Why Mum’s Go To ___.
3. Soft, Strong, And Very Long.
4. Impossible Is Nothing.
5. It’s So Good I Put My Name On It!
6. Don’t Shop For It, ___ It.
7. So Good.
8. How Do You Eat Yours?
9. You Can Do It When You ___ It.
10. So Good The Cows Want It Back.

(1. M&S, 2. Iceland, 3. Andrex, 4. Adidas, 5. George Foreman Grill, 6. Argos, 7. KFC, 8. Cadburys’ Crème Egg, 9. B&Q, 10. Cravendale).

Written by Transcriber Lydia


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