Wag the Tagline – The Rhetoric of Brand Messaging

Wag the Tagline – The Rhetoric of Brand Messaging

The information proclaiming the demise of the tagline has been greatly exaggerated. As a make any difference of reality, the tagline is alive and well – just grossly underappreciated.

Admittedly, not all taglines shine. A lot of are vague, uncomfortable, pretentious, challenging, and ambiguous. They communicate unintended messages, and are guilty of employing stylish or meaningless business jargon. They generally devalue the brand they are supposed to improve and support.

As tools of aggressive advertisers, taglines frequently exhibit the subtlety of a sledgehammer. Novice marketers are likely to use them indiscriminately as mere window dressing, and World-wide-web sophisticates sneer at them as if they have been quaint holdovers from the golden age of television. Offered the deficiency of product loyalty these days, a single miracles whether or not shoppers could treatment a lot less if Bayer will work miracles or Avis tries harder.

In Praise of Taglines

No matter if you like them or not, taglines continue to guideline and affect purchaser behavior, product preference, and company allegiance. They are, by far, one of the simplest and most successful methods to communicate a new or revised brand concept. When properly applied, taglines can greatly enhance the value and relevance of your brand, lengthen its achieve, and give it renewed vigor. They can also be applied to help pivotal targets, these kinds of as launching a brand awareness marketing campaign, differentiating a product line, or driving participation in an worker or third social gathering program.

A banner for all seasons, taglines confer marquee value on your central marketing information – placing the globe on observe as to who you are, what you stand for, and why your prospects should treatment. It is really a tall purchase, but the proverbial tagline is up to the challenge.

The Haiku of Branding

When conceived and crafted persuasively, a tagline can come to be an enduring symbol – elevating your brand message from the mundane to the memorable. Its undertaking, even though, is complicated: to distill the this means of a company vision, competitive situation, brand promise, product benefit, or buyer knowledge into as couple words as feasible – much less than seven or 8, optimally speaking.

In this sense, the tagline bears a placing resemblance to haiku, which reveals its insights metaphorically and intuitively in a very compressed sort. The tagline is also akin to sculpture in the way it uncovers the essence of an notion soon after chiseling absent all that is irrelevant.

Of training course, the most effective detail about taglines is that they’re not created in stone. They can be easily refreshed when internal and exterior pressures require a branding makeover. In the constraints of this so-named 9-syllable novel, a kernel of truth (or myth) emerges that is normally surprising, disarming, or uplifting.

From the Realistic to the Private

Taglines work their magic on a variety of degrees. From a useful stage of see, they can embrace your company’s mission, function, advantage, or competitive advantage (Works like a dream – Ambien Constructed for the highway forward – Ford Drugs with muscle – Motrin).

Taglines can also convey the necessities of brand character, revealing your main values and the reliable features anticipated from your brand (Increasing the bar – Cingular Satisfying persons the entire world about – Holiday Inn Getting treatment of business – Business Depot). Or they can align your company with a recognized class or group to give it included value and trustworthiness (The most dependable name in information – CNN We move the planet – DHL Toddlers are our business – Gerber).

Ultimately, taglines can focus on your audience’s deeply-cherished wants and aspirations, promising private success or the attainment of a wished-for goal or outcome (Will you be ready? – Cialis Will not dream it. Generate it. – Jaguar It really is almost everywhere you want to be – VISA).

Efficient taglines work beneath the area like a mantra, gently nudging emotions and reinforcing views each time competing brands are weighed, calculated, tested, and as opposed.

Focusing on the Concept

Unfortunately, taglines are named upon to do the unachievable, primarily if they’re forged in a creative vacuum unrelated to, and unsupported by, other marketing and branding activities. Generating a tagline devoid of aligning it to your core marketing concept or ongoing communications application is like getting a diet plan tablet at the expenditure of suitable nutrition and exercising. In sum, there’s no these kinds of detail as a excellent tagline rather, the true litmus examination of a tagline’s suitability is no matter if its message is distinct, consistent, and powerful – and irrespective of whether it is integral to your marketing aims and overall brand strategy.

A tagline may perhaps only be the suggestion of the iceberg, but it can have a noticeable and lasting affect on your concentrate on viewers. Given the quick-term memory of a fickle market, the tagline ought to increase earlier mentioned the din and litter, vibrant and intact, like a battle cry or a flag waving in the breeze.

As an vital section of your branding arsenal, a tagline can serve as a sort of mnemonic, sky-crafting device that slips within your prospect’s cloudy head and pushes aside other conflicting messages. The thriving tagline is just one which communicates brand affinity – an capability to come across typical ground, extend anticipations, and charm to primary demands for convenience, basic safety, assurance, enjoyment, like, acceptance, or, in the end, self-actualization.

Text and Texture

We all know a very good tagline when we see it, but what makes it terrific? Absolutely sure, it might be quick, intelligent, authentic, humorous, ironic, basic, or stylish, but what makes it memorable? Aside from its ostensible message or assure, and the brand features and added benefits it reflects, I would like to concentrate on the techniques in which a tagline’s message is crafted and executed to ascertain the source of its attraction and attractiveness.

Like a lot of typical literature, industrial taglines and slogans are replete with rhetorical devices that their creators use, unwittingly or not, to give them a unique tone, impression, type, and character. Soon after all, tagline advancement is all about wordsmithing – employing the correct words in the suitable mix at the appropriate time for a desired outcome. It is really necessitates remaining cognizant of the symbols, nuances, and associations they evoke, as perfectly as the get and mix of sounds and images they conjure up.

Tagline improvement is a way of communicating both of those textual and textural that means while, at the same time, strengthening the distinct brand aspirations of an business, product, or service.

The Rhetorical Gambits of Thriving Taglines

There’s anything highly subjective about how a tagline strikes you. When its information, seem, and indicating work in harmony with each individual other, it has what branding strategists like to refer to as “legs.” It tells a story that transcends commonplace expertise. It varieties a gestalt that is more substantial than the sum of its sections. The areas, even so, can be dissected and examined. They are the constructing blocks of a tagline that make it clever, clever, and pleasurable. They are the rhetorical units that amplify its indicating and crystallize its persuasive result.

You can fondly recall some of these units from higher school English class. In this article is a transient sampling (1):

Alliteration: The recurrence of first consonant appears, commonly juxtaposed.

Famously new (Planter’s Peanuts)

Allusion: A reference to a well known particular person or event.

The spirit of ’76 (Unocal)

Analogy: Compares two items which are alike for the objective of explaining or clarifying some unfamiliar or complicated idea or item.

This is your mind. This is your mind on medicines. (Partnership for a Drug-Free The united states)

Antithesis: Shows a contrasting relationship amongst two thoughts by signing up for them together or juxtaposing them, typically in parallel composition.

The hardest job you can expect to ever love (U.S. Peace Corps)

Assonance: Very similar vowel appears recurring in successive or proximate terms that contains unique consonants.

A silly millimeter for a longer period (Chesterfield Cigarettes)

Colloquialism: An casual term or phrase of conversational language that brings color to day-to-day speech.

Wassup? (Budweiser)

Diacope: The repetition of a word or phrase just after an intervening word or phrase.

Always minimal rates. Often. (Wal-Mart)

Double That means: A determine of speech comparable to the pun in which a phrase can be understood in either of two means.

Consider it all off (Noxzema)

Epizeuxis:Repetition of one particular term, typically for emphasis.

For rapidly, rapidly, quick relief (Anacin)

Hyperbole: Deliberately exaggerates ailments for emphasis or outcome.

I would stroll a mile for a camel (Camel Cigarettes)

Inflection: Alteration of the variety, stress, or intonation of a word.

They are g-r-r-r-eat! (Kellogg’s Frosted Flakes)

Irony:A manner of expression that conveys a reality different from, and generally opposite to, visual appeal or expectation.

With a title like Smucker’s, it has to be very good (Smucker’s)

Metaphor: Compares two different factors by talking of 1 in conditions of the other. Compared with a simile or analogy, a metaphor asserts that one particular factor is a different thing, not just like it.

The champagne of bottled beer (Miller Superior Life)

Meter:The rhythmic pattern that emerges when phrases are arranged in this sort of a way that their stressed and unstressed syllables fall into a additional or a lot less regular accented sample.

The a lot quicker picker-upper (Bounty)

Metonymy: A sort of metaphor in which a intently associated item is substituted for the item or notion in brain.

Just take a chunk out of crime (Nationwide Criminal offense Avoidance Council)

Pleonasm:Currently being redundant to convey an idea, generally for emphasis.

Extinct is without end (Friends of the Animals)

Rhetorical Concern: A statement formulated as a dilemma whose solution is obvious or of course wanted and won’t will need to be answered.

Isn’t going to your pet dog should have Alpo? (Alpo Pet Food)

Rhyme:The similarity among syllable sounds at the conclude of two or a lot more lines.

We imply clean up (Bissell)

Simile:A comparison amongst two distinctive matters that resemble every other in at the very least just one way.

Like a rock (Chevy Vans)

Synecdoche: A sort of metaphor in which the section stands for the full, the whole for a part, or in limited, any part, segment, or major high-quality for the total or the point by itself.

You’re in good arms with Allstate (Allstate Insurance)


The artwork of tagline growth is a similar to the creating of a lyric for a melody. It will have to adhere to certain conventions and constraints recommended by the brand in buy to work in near harmony with it. Given that brand messages can be expressed on various concentrations (e.g., place, guarantee, gain, differentiation, and many others.), there is an expectation that taglines must multi-process. While some taglines are far better suited than other people in assuming this stress, all those that concentration on a solitary brand concept are usually much more unforgettable and successful, and simpler to grasp.

Serendipity does perform a variable in the creative procedure. Regardless of whether you simply call it inspiration or the fortuitous collision of disparate suggestions, it usually happens when impulse and intent coalesce to categorical a imagined merely and simply. Essentially, this is how quite a few rhetorical units uncover their way into commercial taglines. For example, the individual who designed Apple Computer’s tagline, “Believe distinctive,” could not have been seeking to deliberately crack the guidelines of grammar (e.g., assume in a different way). Most very likely, it just arrived out that way, in the vernacular…and it sounded, properly, distinct! The important thing is – its creator had the presence of mind to realize the big difference.

The crafting of a tagline’s a lot of variants and permutations is also an indispensable component of creative advancement. No subject how you slice it and dice it, you have to wag the tagline regularly right until you strike on the best way to specific your information. And whether you might be acutely aware of literary tropes or not, a punchy and persuasive tagline derives considerably of its specific artistry and fluidity from the way it is expressed rhetorically.

After all, in which would RAID be if it didn’t “eliminate bugs lifeless?” And the place would we be if Yellow Pages did not permit our “fingers do the walking?” Oh, yeah, we’ve “occur a extensive way, little one.”

(1) Most definitions acquired from A Glossary of Literary Conditions and A Handbook of Rhetorical Products by Robert A. Harris.

© 2006 Eric Stephen Swartz. All legal rights reserved.

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