Strap lines, slogans et al. – aka: do it well or leave it

So, today’s #RainyBrandingTuesday talks once again about advertising – I know, it’s a fascinating topic. I was asked by one of my clients to help with a strap line for her business – we have been working on the brainstorming for her new identity and brand and she feels that she would like to appeal the corporate clients she is targeting with a slogan to be associated to her business.
Could play this for hours.

Could play this for hours.

What is a strap line?

Wikipedia says that, in marketing, a slogan (or strap line) is a functional line that usually:

According to the 1913 Webster’s Dictionary, a slogan (/ˈsloʊɡən/) derives from the Gaelic “sluaghghairm” (an army cry). It has come to mean in its contemporary sense, a distinctive advertising motto, or advertising phrase, used by any entity to convey a purpose or ideal; Or, a catchphrase.Taglinestag lines, or tags are American terms for brief public communication promoting products and services. In the UK they are called end linesendlines, or straplines. In Japan, they are called catchcopy (キャッチコピー kyachi kopī?) or catch phrase (キャッチフレーズ kyachi furēzu?).

Why have a strap line?

According to Marketing Nerd, the benefits a brand strapline include:

  • Instant brand positioning in just a few words
  • Memory hook for potential customers
  • Helps to develop affinity with your brand
  • Differentiate yourself from your competitors
In the words of Writers Copywriting,  to be effective, a company strapline should follow three simple rules:
  1. Say what you do
  2. Say it in everyday English
  3. Avoid tired management buzzwords

That way, people will know straight away what you’re about. And they’ll thank you for saying it clearly – so if they need or want what you offer, they might just look you up and find out how you do it.

So, should we strap line or not?

I personally do not have a slogan (yet?). Nevertheless, I see and acknowledge the power it has in its role of imprinting the memory of the reader or the prospect. I cannot help but remember the classic Ava, come lava from the Fifties – and I was not even around when it was broadcast! So, I think that in the end it all goes back to business owner and his / her decision (gut feeling) about having it or not.
One thing I’d recommend is to NOT integrate it in the logo. Logo design is a visual tool that should work as a standalone item in the economy of a brand. Slogan can come and go and can be used in typography as something that goes along the design. Any designer will frown upon the idea of a lengthy wording next to graphics and probably it’s worth taking note of it 🙂
Ultimately, as says Dan Adam, think about whether you need it or not.

Many brands – particularly start-ups – think a strapline is essential. Truth is, it’s not. Written well, straplines are brilliant. They can help your reader quickly understand what your brand is all about and, most importantly, remember it in future. But, written badly, they can create false promises and be misleading. And no brand wants that.”

So all in all, what I suggest is just a summary of these sources:

  • be short and clear
  • be creative and memorable
  • make it easy – it’s like an elevator pitch
  • stay in line with your style
  • don’t be too stiff or formal
  • research before you sign off
  • make it meaningful
  • strike a chord with your audience
  • be honest and don’t overpromise

but above all

  • do it well or leave it!

 Examples of successful strap lines

  • Just do it – Nike
  • Impossible is nothing – Adidas
  • I’m lovin’ it – McDonalds
  • Reassuringly expensive – Stella Artois
  • Because you’re worth it – L’Oreal
  • Every little helps – Tesco
  • Never knowingly undersold – John Lewis
  • The world’s local bank – HSBC
  • Always Coca-Cola – Coca-Cola
  • A diamond is forever – De Beers
  • Intel inside – Intel
  • Think different – Apple
  • Beanz meanz Heinz – Heinz
  • Don’t just book it. Thomas Cook it. – Thomas Cook
  • Connecting people – Nokia

Wanna read more?

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