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Your brand name is a good start in creating the verbal expression of your brand. To convey a richer story, you need more than that. Call it a tagline, strapline, or slogan, many brands benefit from adopting a short, catchy phrase that takes their brand to the next level.

I’ve had many clients struggle trying to create the ideal tagline. Some struggle to define products that are hard to describe. Others struggle with an extremely diverse array of products. Still others are saddled with boring and hard to remember slogans.

Here are several approaches that can help you break through the frustration to create a tagline that truly works. Taglines can take a number of forms, depending on your communication goals:

Descriptive: If you have an uncommon or confusing product or if you have chosen an unusual brand name, your tagline can add clarity. A downside of descriptive taglines is that they tend to be boring. Yet a number of companies have managed to avoid that pitfall. BMW wins with “The Ultimate Driving Machine.” Rice Krispies goes a step further to describe the experience of the product with “Snap, Krackle, Pop.”

Benefit Based: You can help customers visualize the value of your brand by focusing attention on its key benefit. Disney promised to be “The Happiest Place of Earth,” and FedEx delivers “The World On Time.”

Point of Difference: In a highly competitive market place, moving beyond the benefit to what makes your brand better can help you stand out. John Deer claims “Nothing Runs Like a Deere,” 7Up is famously “The Uncola.” Pork is positioned as “The Other White Meat.” Bounty paper towels are “The Quicker Picker Upper.”

Witty Catchphrase: Some brands have achieved places in pop culture with catchphrases that have caught fire. Budweiser had “Wassup.” The California Milk Processor Board created “Got Milk?” Verizon eternally asks “Can you hear me now?”

Personality: Your tagline can establish the personality of your brand. “Pardon me, do you have any Grey Poupon?” contrasts with Hooter’s “Delightfully tacky, yet unrefined.”

Visionary: Companies with lots of products sold in many countries often struggle with a tagline that embraces their far flung businesses. In these cases, a tagline that evokes the mission or vision of the company can be very effective. GE is “Imagination at work,” whether talking about train locomotives or microwave ovens. Dupont is about “The Miracles of Science.”

Provacative or Motivating: Telling your customers what to do or why your brand is important is another way to approach finding an effective tagline. AFLAC tells people to “Ask about it at work.” Michelin reminds us “Because so much is riding on your tires.”

When you are developing tagline options, we recommend creating several ideas that fall in each of the above categories. Thinking in new ways can help you get past creative roadblocks. You just might find that one winning phrase!

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