The Difference Between Brand Taglines and Slogans

Brand recognition equals value. That is why companies spend millions of dollars on advertising to increase their brand awareness. It doesn’t matter what kind of company you own, you want your brand to be the one people remember. You may have a unique brand name and a great logo, but you also need something to make your brand stick. You need to create a tagline and slogan.

Your name, logo, tagline and slogan all work together to deliver one cohesive message that communicates your company’s value. Although taglines and slogans are very similar, there are differences that set them apart. But one thing is true for both. When a tagline or slogan hits the mark, it can make your brand unforgettable.

Taglines vs. Slogans

When you look at Merriam-Webster’s definitions for tagline and slogan, you will notice that there is very little difference between the two. In fact, slogan is even listed in the definition for tagline.

Definition of Tagline

  1. a reiterated phrase identified with an individual, group, or product : SLOGAN
  2. a final line (as in a play or joke)

especially : one that serves to clarify a point or create a dramatic effect

Definition of Slogan

  1. a war cry especially of a Scottish clan
  2. a word or phrase used to express a characteristic position or stand or a goal to be achieved
  3. a brief attention-getting phrase used in advertising or promotion

Although taglines and slogans are both short and used to identify your brand, they are different. Taglines are more permanent and reinforce your brand by conveying the tone and feeling you want for your products and services. The most successful taglines become synonymous with brand names and logos. A tagline is typically used at the end of every advertisement or marketing material published.

On the other hand, a slogan is often temporary and particular to a specific marketing effort. The word slogan comes from a Scottish word meaning “battle cry.” Different slogans are used for different battles, or campaigns in this case. While a tagline is used consistently and is only changed for a large company rebranding, a slogan can be changed frequently to highlight a specific aspect of a product of service. It’s typically more specific to meet a target goal. Despite these differences, many people use the terms interchangeably.

Examples

Taglines and slogans are short, so crafting one may seem easy. But creating a slogan or tagline that is memorable takes strategy. There is no right way to create a tagline or slogan, but there are a few techniques that successful brands have utilized to launch legendary campaigns and establish world wide recognition. We know these brands from one look at their logo, to one mention of their tagline. Here they are and the strategies they use that work so well.

Nike, Just Do It

Both taglines and slogans should be simple. The main reason your company’s tagline should be simple is that you want your customers to remember it. That is the goal of a tagline after all. The other is that there are many levels of literacy in the world and you don’t want to exclude a group of people by using complicated language. Remember, your tagline doesn’t need to explain your company’s products or services, it just needs to convey your message effectively and efficiently.

The best example of a simple tagline that is exponentially successful is Nike’s tagline “Just do it.” Nike coined its iconic tagline in 1988. “Just Do It” conveys courage, motivation and strength in just three words and eight characters. These are all important attributes of an athlete, but they are also qualities of your ordinary person striving for a lifestyle that is proactive. “Just Do It” has been Nike’s tagline for 31 years, but they’ve created many slogans including “Dream Crazy,” “Find Your Greatness” and “I Believe.” All statements are short and use power words that create impact, but none hold the same brand recognition as “Just Do It.”

Kit Kat, Have a break, have a Kit Kat

In his book, Contagious, author Jonah Berger explains why some things go viral while others do not. He argues that one way to make something catch on is by creating association to a frequent habit for many people. A famous example of this is Kit Kat’s tagline, “Have a break, have a Kit Kat.” The tagline was created to spike sales. Kit Kat was struggling to find a way to convince people to choose their chocolate-covered wafer bar over the hundreds of other candy options on the market. Their tagline resonated with so many people because everyone takes a break.

By hearing the tagline in commercials and seeing it in print, the association is created subconsciously. Instead of grabbing a Snickers or a Reese’s during a break, people automatically grab a Kit Kat without even knowing how the tagline influenced their decision. Although “Have a break, have a Kit Kat” has remained over the years, popular slogans launched by the company include “Break time, anytime” and “Breaks are good, have one.” Of all their catchphrases, “Have a break, have a Kit Kat” is the only one that is recognized worldwide.

Covergirl, I Am What I Make Up

A single word can influence the way a person feels about your brand. That is why word choice is so important. Ancient Greek Philosopher Aristotle identified three major rhetorical appeals that are still recognized today: logos, which appeals to logic, ethos, which appeals to ethics and pathos, which appeals to emotion. While all three appeals may be useful for your slogan or tagline, the most important is pathos. Many successful companies take advantage of emotional appeals by creating taglines and slogans that make people feel good.

In 2017, Covergirl made the decision to rebrand. They ditched their signature tagline “Easy, Breezy, Beautiful” for “I Am What I Make Up.” The new tagline has been well received because it makes their customers feel empowered. The new tagline suggests that beauty is diverse, dynamic and authentic. Although they changed their tagline, Covergirl has stayed true to their mission and has opened itself to new customers. Slogans that Covergirl has launched to highlight specific products in the past include “Born to Shine,” “Demand Attention” and “Made in the Mirror.”

Let’s Summarize

Taglines and slogans are similar, but minor differences set them apart. Taglines are more permanent representations of your brand, while slogans can be changed frequently and are often particular to specific campaigns. Both taglines and slogans should be brief and representative of your brand. The goal is to create a tagline or slogan that is memorable and relevant to many.

To create a tagline or slogan that is memorable:

  • Keep it simple
  • Use power words that resonate with your audience
  • Create an association to a frequent habit for many people
  • Appeal to your customers’ emotions

What brand slogans stand out to you and why? Share them with us in the comments below.

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