I recently concluded a complete messaging revamp for an exciting company in the Cloud strategic advisory space. As part of any messaging overhaul, the tagline (or company slogan) must also be reviewed for relevance, because these three (or four or five) little words say so much about a company, encapsulating what you do with the minimal amount of words – words that appear everywhere. I think it’s very important to do a great job here, because more than anything, this is your opportunity to create a first impression.

Interestingly, when researching company slogans (see below) I noticed that the majority of large companies are not including taglines with logos anymore. I’m not sure why this has changed, but the bigger you are the better known you are, so perhaps it’s more about being well known? Huge companies – like Nike or L’Oreal – are always promoting their tagline within the context of their marketing – especially in advertising campaigns – however, neither have it front and centre on the Website. Curious stuff. Whatever the case, I believe a company still working to establish its brand must create a highly relevant slogan and make sure that slogan appears wherever the logo appears – i.e. the two exist together. Rule one!

Here’s how I define a tagline or slogan:

  • Short, sharp, positioned with the logo, it depicts the company position and personality, value and primary brand message
  • It needs to capture the essence of the company in as few words as possible
  • Keep it short and sweet – three words is ideal, six maximum, anymore and you’re missing the point
  • A slogan needs to be consistent with the brand and align to what you are offering, and it needs to be memorable
  • It needs to be a positive message, which reassures your customers
  • It’s got to be completely unique and differentiate your company from the competition (I suggest you review the competition, as well as brands you admire as part of the process and then get creative)
  • As with everything in marketing, keep it simple and clear

To give you a feel for how the most successful companies in the world approach this, I’ve included several different types of slogans below. Of course, there are some you just know – like Nike and McDonalds. But there are many you will not know off hand. I researched these examples carefully, however some might be old (and I couldn’t find a newer version), and in Cisco’s case, I’ve offered two examples, because I couldn’t determine which one is the current tagline. I’m providing these examples as potential inspiration, so even if they are older versions, it’s still relevant to why I’ve shared them. I always research this stuff extensively, but if it takes me hours and hours to find a companies’ tagline, well that’s hardly a good sign is it? It should be front and centre, with the logo, on the front page, especially if you’re not a big global brand.

Here are some examples to ponder…

Pure B2B

  1. Accenture – High Performance. Delivered
  2. IBM – Solutions for a Small Planet
  3. EMC – Where Information Lives
  4. Cisco Systems – Changing the Way we Work, Live, Play and Learn OR Built for the Human Network
  5. Intel – Intel Inside
  6. McKinsey & Company – The Trusted Advisor to the World’s Leading Businesses (and I really like this Website design – very slick)
  7. Fortune – For the Men in Charge of Change (Yep seriously, I couldn’t believe it either…)
  8. BCG – The Boston Consulting Group

Pure B2C

  1. Nike – Just Do It
  2. McDonalds – I’m Lovin It
  3. AJAX – Stronger Than Direct Or Stronger Than Grease
  4. VisaIt’s everywhere you want to be
  5. JaguarDon’t dream it. Drive it.
  6. Lexus – The Relentless Pursuit of Perfection
  7. L’Oreal – Because You’re Worth It
  8. KFC – It’s Finger Licking Good or is it Today Tastes So Good
  9. Harley Davidson – American by Birth. Rebel by Choice.

B2B & B2C – deliver products/services from a single industry – technology, Web, logistics, etc.. to both consumer and business customers

  1. Microsoft – Your Potential. Our Passion
  2. Samsung – Inspire the World. Create the Future
  3. Dell – The Power to do More
  4. Apple  – Think Different
  5. Nokia – Connecting People
  6. Google – Don’t be Evil
  7. Amazon – …and You’re Done
  8. FedEx – When There is No Tomorrow
  9. Sony – Make. Believe

B2B & B2C – Oligopolies (companies who deliver many different types of products/services, across multiple industries, meeting the needs of a vast diaspora of customers)

  1. LG – Life’s Good
  2. Panasonic – Ideas for Life
  3. GE – Imagination at Work
  4. Fujitsu – The Possibilities are Infinite

If you want more examples, head over to Tagline Guru – there are hundreds of examples there, or the Advertising Slogan Hall of Fame.

I’ve divided the examples up into pure B2B, B2B & B2C and B2C for a very good reason. Successful B2C slogans are more focused on the customer experience. Nike’s ‘Just Do It’, McDonalds’ ‘I’m Loving It’, or L’Oreal’s ‘Because You Deserve It’ are all about how the consumer feels when engaging with a product or service. If you think about the B2C examples, they inspire and encourage the customer. I suggest that this is a good thing to keep in mind if you are creating a slogan in the B2C space – you need to focus on creating a message to inspire your customer, it’s about how you want them to respond to your brand.

B2B is different. B2B is about what your business delivers – so it’s more about what you offer than what the customer experience will be. A personal favorite is Accenture’s ‘High Performance. Delivered.’ I also like IBM’s ‘Solutions for a Small Planet’ because it is very much in-line with the overall company message. And McKinsey & Company ‘The Trusted Advisor to the World’s Leading Businesses’ clearly explains what it offers and who it offers these services to. BCG uses it’s tagline to explain the acronym ‘Boston Consulting Group’ and while this makes sense, it’s a wasted use of the tagline. The BCG brand is so well established, however, they can get away with something like this.

The biggest challenge is companies that speak to both consumers and business customers, as well as those with multiple services/products across a broad range of industries. These companies need to go visionary. I think Microsoft, Samsung, Dell, Apple, Nokia, Google and Sony all do a great job. For the oligopolies, the LG slogan is clever, GE inspiring, and both Panasonic and Fujitsu are good but not my favourites.

Rule 2 – if you are getting ready to define a new slogan for your company, the first thing is to define your audience

  • If it’s B2C – focus on your customer’s experience with your brand – for example, if you want to inspire them to be better people, it should be in the tagline
  • If it’s B2B – focus on what you deliver to your customers, for example
    • If your company delivers a service because of its high-quality employees, it needs to talk about the sort of people on your team, so words like integrity are good
    • If it’s a product, encapsulate how it will change the world
    • If it’s another type of service (e.g. telcos, call centre, logistics, etc..), use words like guarantee and phrases around the idea of promises kept
  • If it’s B2B and B2C focused from a single industry (e.g. the technology industry) it’s got to be inspiring and visionary, elevated above what you actually offer and focused on how your customer benefits
  • And if you offer all sorts of things to all sorts of customers – you’ve got to knock it out of the park with a visionary statement that captures the core essence of your company and what you want your customers to achieve because of what you offer

I’ve done a lot of tagline/slogan creation, and it’s a lot of fun and professionally very satisfying. However, I appreciate that many are looking for guidance in this area and I really hope this helps you to focus on creating an awesome slogan that is going to elevate your company far above your competition.

Good luck.

Cheers

Andrea

PS: SAJE’s tagline ‘We’re Ideas People’ was inspired by a very funny Australian movie – The Castle – and a favorite line in the movie, “he’s an ideas man.” While our tagline really does break a few of my rules above, it just suited our company and what we set it up to do – to generate really creative communication and content ideas for our customers. So you don’t always have to obey the “rules” and this blog has been created to offer a bit more focused guidance. If you’re in a more creative space, HAVE FUN with it, but remember, you’ve got to be taken seriously as a business as well.