Why Taglines Aren’t What They Used To Be

Back in the 1960’s and 70s, a tagline was supposed to last forever – well, at least for thirty years or so. That’s because it took so much time and money to get almost everyone to remember it.

Major corporations poured millions upon millions of dollars into advertising their taglines. Not one word of a tag was changed without extensive, statistically-driven research results.

With the 80’s came the soda tagline wars ― think “Coke Is It” ― and it didn’t matter anymore how long you kept the same tagline. The rule of thumb became replace your line as often as needed by something even more snappy and memorable. Then spend gazillions promoting it.

Today taglines aren’t just for large corporations and mega products, like hair care, soda and fast food restaurants. The internet has allowed even the smallest businesses to use taglines to their full advantage, especially within niche markets.

No wonder that small business owners are very attached their taglines, myself included. As you can imagine, when I learned that I had to change part of my tagline (I found out that someone had trademarked a portion of it) I was terribly unhappy.

I had invested seven years into my tagline.  It was on everything from my email signatures, to my social media profiles, to thousands of business cards I’d distributed, as well as on my website (albeit one that is still under construction).

I loved that tagline. I grieved for that tagline.

Generating new options was painful because I really resented having to do it, but I did come up with something that conveyed the same thought.

Guess what?  No one even noticed the change or, if they did, didn’t think it wasn’t worth mentioning.

A few of my colleagues and networking partners started to ask my advice about changing their taglines. Not one of them was looking for something clever or even more memorable.  The discussions were always about substance and whether the tagline was really conveying a benefit to prospective customers.

The most important thing I learned from all this is that smart marketers have finally gotten beyond using catchy slogans.  A tagline is really about letting people know who you are or explaining the benefits of what you sell. Clever is good, but only when it really means something important.

Do you have a tagline story to tell? Please let me know if you do.

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