Taglines: Dead & Redundant Or Relevant?

Taglines traditionally are defined as a part of the brand building exercise that sums up the mission, intent and image of the business. When I studied brand, logo elements and the importance of the “tagline” in theory, as a student, I was fascinated about the fact that if the tagline copy was written intelligently – it can work wonders. I admired “Just do It” and still do! I did use some of the do’s and don’ts while designing logos and creating brand identity documents in my career.

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When I was creating the logo element for  Madhouse, my first startup, I religiously spent sometime figuring out what the tagline should be. I dint even think of my logo without a tagline. The belief was that, we should be able to use the tagline without the company /brand name eventually to create the same recall and recognition in users minds. Inspired by the Nike Swoosh!

As time went by, I noticed that most new generation internet companies were emerging without the tagline! What mattered the most was the brand name or the name of the business and not so much the tagline. I remember the likes of ebay, amazon, yahoo, google, apple, rediff, indiatimes, etc. not having a tagline. And as we move on, many more established companies are dropping their taglines.

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I guess, the way things have changed in branding, building companies, communicating the value of the business – brand recall is a great challenge and consuming, now imagine adding a tagline to it and trying to push the whole branding. Its too much to ask!

The reality for today is that Taglines are redundant! They are nothing but noise in the business scheme of things. Having said that, I think for statrups / new companies having a tagline is a personal choice. Thought, its important to get that darn tagline right – if not it’s a disaster of sorts before your company has started!

To quote relevant examples from my real-life experience: While working

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with LifeMojo as part of the MVP business acceleration program in 2008, we discussed at length to have a tag-line and when we launched the site we did have a tag-line too. But soon we realized that the tagline was not adding too much value, if anything, the logo was looking clunky and bad trying to

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accommodate the tag-line. And so, we just knocked it out! On the contrary,  the tagline Deskaway is Simplify Teamwork and this for me is the perfect summation of what Deskaway stands for as a business.

And so… Contemplate real hard if you’d like to have a tagline for your company or not. And if you’d still like to have a tagline for your business / startup here’s some insight that I’ve garnered through some years of experience:

  • Taglines can be of two major kinds:
    • Ones that have a direct reference to the business – company, service or the product, Deskaway’s tagline for example or Kingfisher Airlines’ Fly the Good Times or United’s Fly the friendly skies
    • Ones that reflect the philosophy of the company – Nike, Just Do it! Or Nokia, Connecting People.
  • So when you are contemplating having a tagline for your business. There are few things you may want to think about:
    • What’s the purpose the tagline is going to actually serve? “I’m lovin’ it” has become synonyms with the golden arch and McD’s burgers now. But to achieve this they’ve been at it for years now.
    • The tagline should actually add value to your brand, the business offering and enhance the perceived value of your business.
    • What do you want to say as part of the tagline? Do you want it to reflect your mission? Connecting People; Your business philosophy Always low prices, always or talk about the product offering directly? Utterly Butterly Delicious!
    • A tagline must reflect the feeling / emotions of the customer and not what the people behind the business want customers to perceive.
    • Ensure that the tagline is short enough to fit with your logo unit and to be reprinted anywhere – from a visiting card to a huge sky-drop size hoarding
    • The tagline must be well written to gel with your business ideology and should convey something.
    • The tagline should be simple in language, no buzz or jargon usage
    • A tagline should serve its purpose at least for a few years for the business.
    • A tagline has to be direct to appeal to the larger customer base, so that they can identify it and recall it when required.
    • Intellectual taglines are recipe for disaster
    • A tagline that has no recall is a tagline worth removing
    • A bad tagline is as good as a ruined brand. Better not to have a tagline, than have a bad one

In all, I frankly don’t remember many taglines of companies that are doing well. I remember an one off “Just Do it!” or “I’m lovin’ it!” coz these are the rare gems that have risen out of a lot of crappy taglines by established companies.

So, as a last tip – if you’re not sure what you want the tagline to be, if it hasn’t come naturally to you – then don’t waste your time on thinking up one – its not worth the time spent. Not at all for a startup!

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  • Ranjan

    I was feeling a bit sad that I couldn’t fit in my tag line within the logo. It was a bit long, didn’t come out clearly. After reading your insights, I’m relieved. :) Thanks

  • Brady

    I agree. Web 2.0 strategies emphasize the importance of sending your message with minimal “space consumption.” (ex: twitter) The same emphasis is made on brand development. It’s a challenge, but if a logo, symbol, or even color scheme, is easily identified and clearly understood, companies will save a lot of money on brand positioning and advertising. Great post. Taglines are another thing to read and in this day and age, that’s too time consuming.

  • madhouse musings! » Blog Archive » That “Good” Logo for my startup!

    [...] It is NOT always necessary for you logo to have a tagline. Read my post on taglines here. [...]

  • Priyanka D

    good ones!

  • Pankaj

    Tag lines can serve as a good diffrentiator for a product, especially in the internet market, just like brand names. Fcuk is a good example of a brand name really diffrentiating the product. In our own indian market “bujhae only pyaas, baaki sab bakwaas” is a tag line that really lifted the product, and also “what an idea sirji”.

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