How To Write A Tagline For Your Logo
Logos are first impressions. They’re almost always the very first thing an outsider gets their eyes on, so you want them to make sure that initial judgment is unforgettable–in a good way. Logos not only represent your brand visually but should also tell the story of who you are and what you do. What about writing a tagline too?
Writing a tagline that’s meaningful can make a valuable addition to your already awesome logo. Taglines should provide a concise and exact explanation of what your brand is all about and create brand recognition when it’s heard or associated with your logo time and time again.
Although taglines are associated with successful logos sometimes, they certainly don’t have to be. Let’s take a look at different types of taglines and why your small business should consider attaching one of them to your logo.
What Makes A Useful Tagline?
When a tagline is consistently shown to your audience as part of your logo, on every piece of marketing material, and anywhere your brand appears, it becomes recognizable and directly associated with who you are as a company.
You don’t have to hear “Nike” to know what someone is talking about when they say the phrase “Just Do It”. A hard-working athlete with fire in their eyes automatically comes to mind. Nikes uses their famous tagline just about anywhere they display their brand and it’s immediately recognizable. Their tagline brings that much more depth to who they are.
While Nike’s tagline is an imperative and actionable one, there are many different types of taglines you can develop depending on your brand and the industry you operate in.
5 Types of Taglines
In the non-marketing world, taglines are the punchlines of our favorite jokes. “You can’t run through a campsite. You can only ran because it’s past tents.” Ran past tents is the punchline!
Although we live for these types of taglines too, in business we refer to writing a tagline as developing a short phrase that is associated with a brand’s values, products, or services. Taglines can tell different stories for different brands and can be the throughline to what it is you’re all about.
Let’s take a look at five different types of taglines, how they’re used, and then you can dive into how to write a tagline.
Writing a tagline that is descriptive means developing a phrase that is simple, straightforward, and short. Descriptive taglines are used to explain exactly what it is a brand is all about–this could be associated with your products, services, or values.
TED uses a descriptive tagline to give the outside world some insight into what they stand for–“Ideas Worth Spreading.”
Are you entering your industry with the goal of having a product that is that much more high-quality than anyone else’s? Use a superlative tagline to let existing and potential customers know your product is top-of-the-line and your service is untouchable by any competitor.
BMW uses the tagline “The Ultimate Driving Machine” to inform us that their vehicles are in fact “ultimate”.
OK, we don’t mean provocative as in seductive or deliberately jaw-dropping (although this might work for certain brands in specific industries). Provocative is more about how your tagline provokes thought and immediate attention.
Maybe your tagline isn’t directly straightforward with what’s it’s trying to say–this isn’t a problem. It actually makes an audience dig into their thoughts and pondering different ideas. Provocative taglines can even have different meanings for different people, depending on who comes across your brand.
Adidas’ tagline “Impossible is nothing” makes you stop in your tracks and consider what seems impossible to you. Just like we said … provokes thought.
Want to get your customers thinking? Ask them a question. Microsoft retired their decades-old interrogative tagline in 2014, but “Where do you want to go today?” did the job well during its time. Microsoft’s tagline gets you thinking about endless opportunities and associates those daydreams with the multinational tech company.
Imperative taglines are actionable and make your audience want to make a move! Lay’s is one that uses an imperative tagline perfectly. “Betcha Can’t Eat Just One” … Challenge accepted! The brand has created an action for their customers. And although eating an entire bag of chips is not what we’re recommending here, it puts the action of consuming more of their product into their consumer’s heads.
Visions, dreams, and purpose. Visionary taglines give customers a crystal clear look into your brand’s vision. What do you stand for? Let ‘em know in your tagline.
Here’s a good one for you: GE – “Imagination at work.”
Writing A Tagline For Your Logo
Good taglines are memorable and can make lasting impressions for your brand, but do they always need to go on your logo? Not necessarily. Many large, famous brands don’t include their taglines on their logos.
Think about Uber. The rideshare company went from the tagline “Everyone’s private driver” to “Get there”–neither of which were ever shown on their actual logo. The phrases also aren’t plastered on every marketing outlet they have.
Could you pick either of these taglines out of a bunch and associate it with Uber? Maybe you could, maybe you couldn’t. The point is that what people do recognize is the brand itself–it’s clean, simple logo consisting of “Uber” in block text. They don’t need a well-known tagline to make their mark.
While the brand has over 110 million worldwide users, we’re using Uber as a large example. You, however, as a small business, might consider incorporating your catchy tagline on your logo. There are certain cases when you should use your tagline on your logo without hesitation, one of which is trying to establish yourself in your industry at first. Here are the others:
Your brand has a name that isn’t self-explanatory.
Let’s say you’re a family-owned BBQ restaurant based out of Pittsburgh. You decide on naming your restaurant “The Pit”. Cool, we love it–but how are your customers going to know what it is you do?
In this case, you should consider using your tagline “Pittsburgh’s Original Barbeque” on your logo in addition to putting it across all marketing platforms. Then potential customers will know what you have to offer.
Your brand name has an alternative meaning.
Apple – “Think Different.” Based on this tagline, you can probably assume that we’re not talking about an orchard here. Although Apple’s tagline isn’t as specific as some, it gets across the idea that the company isn’t associated with fruit, and gives us enough insight into the brand’s general industry.
Your brand is disrupting your industry with new, bold ways to offer your service. If this is the case, you’ll want to make sure you can make that impact on your customers right away. Show your difference and the value of your brand in your tagline.
For example, a lawn care company has a concept that is unique–they provide same-day landscaping services. They’ll stand out from their competitors because of the way they’re disrupting their industry–they’ve got to make sure potential customers see their value right away. They use the tagline “Same-day lawn service, guaranteed.”
You’re here to stay.
If you’re thinking long-term, writing a tagline that makes an impression that lasts long-term is a good idea. Then, if necessary, you can easily alter your tagline on your logo as you grow and develop.
KitKat’s original tagline originated back in 1957 as “Give me a break” and changed ever-so-slightly to “Have a break … Have a KitKat” in 1987. They made a change, keeping the brand concept the same, as they grew, developed, and changed as a company. The tagline still stands strong and is recognizable and catchy to this day.
You want to keep your brand as focused as possible.
Picture this–you have great brand values, but no way of staying true to your foundation. Your brand isn’t living up to its original values, and no one knows it because your customers aren’t aware of your values and purpose. Oh well, no big deal! No one’s holding you accountable–don’t be this guy.
Instead, stay specifically focused on what your brand is doing, your core values, and your purpose by including them in your tagline. Write a tagline based on your values to remind yourself, your employees, and your customers what you’re all about. This will keep you in check with your yourselves, your employees, and your customers–they’ll hold you accountable.
Lush is a great example of this. Writing the tagline “Fresh Handmade Cosmetics” helps them stay true to their values: fresh cosmetics, 100% vegetarian, ethical buying, handmade, naked, and a fight against animal testing. They stay true to what they’ve believed since the beginning, and their audience will hold them to it.
Do You Need to Trademark Your Tagline If It’s On Your Logo?
You’re able to trademark taglines just like you are business names. So if your tagline is on your logo, should you trademark it?
Here are two reasons why you would want to consider trademarking your tagline:
- You’re working on building a distinct, successful brand. Your business should stand out and be unique, and so should your tagline. If you’re planning on sticking with this tagline long-term, trademark it in addition to your business name.
- You’re planning on regularly using your tagline in marketing materials. If your tagline appears everywhere your brand does, it’ll be associated with you–and only you–if you gain the rights to it.
Trademarking your tagline is just as easy as trademarking your business name. In order for a tagline to be trademarkable, it must meet one of two requirements:
- The tagline must be distinctive and creative. It cannot be an overused phrase or have unspecific, generic meaning.
- The tagline has to have a secondary meaning that directly relates to the product(s) or service(s) of your brand. This refers to customers making a distinct connection between the tagline and the product or service. * This approach is less common because it can take time to build this product-to-tagline connection with customers.
Once you’ve done your research and know your tagline can be trademarked, it’s relatively simple to follow through with. File a trademark application and make sure to keep up with the required documents once your trademark is approved. Simple as that.
Ask Your Brand Manager
If you have a brand manager in charge of keeping your brand in check, ask them what they think you should do about your tagline and your logo. If it makes sense for your small business, do it! But don’t feel the pressure of having to put a tagline on your logo–it’s not always necessary.
Your ultimate goal is to stand out and make your brand as successful as it can be. If writing a tagline is going to make that different, make sure you have a good one.