When it comes to taglines, “JUST DO IT.”

coca-cola-catch-the-waveDavid Ogilvy, the 20th century King of Pithy, wrote, “You can’t bore people into buying your product.”

Wherever there is competition, there will be a need for brands to rise above the noise. Advertising, if nothing else, is the craft of fending off consumer boredom – logos, spokespersons (or spokesducks), and jingles, are all in the arsenal. Today, though, we’re talking taglines.

Taglines come in two (mixed) flavors:

  • Informative and Educational
    • Coca-Cola in 1886: “Drink Coca-Cola”
  • Emotional and Experiential
    • Coca-Cola in 1986: “Catch The Wave”

The informative tag is a great approach for a brand’s infancy when consumers have no clue of the brand. The emotional tag is a necessity once consumers are clued in. If you’re tasked with writing a great tagline for an established brand, write a desire, not a description.

A successful tagline will cement a brand in consumer consciousness for a long, long time. At the same time, plenty of arguments now are put forward that taglines have little use in a media environment measured in pixels rather than columns. Taglines come and go, but diamonds are forever, so if your brand is already diamond, why waste the space with anything but your name and calls-to-action? After all, Facebook and Starbucks don’t use taglines. However, Apple’s inspired tagline, “Think Different” helped burn the brand indelibly into consumers’ psyches, and Nike’s powerful “Just Do It” admonished millions of consumers to get their butts moving. Facebook and Starbuck’s may not use or need taglines, but archetypal brands like these are extremely rare. Like diamonds.

9bcb16d05f8eaf8fbfe4f74be0889310On the other hand, also rare is the company who keeps the same tagline over the course of its history. In many ways, a successful tagline is akin to a great pair of shoes. You know they will last, but you know they wear out. So each tagline gets created with the hope it brings the chance to create a next one. For Nike, it’s “Just do it.” For most of the rest, it’s “Just do it, over and over.”

Rest assured, evolving taglines over time does not indicate weakness. Coca-Cola has changed theirs with such regularity (~60 in 130 years) that consumers almost expect, and even anticipate the change with each new campaign.

With all this in mind, what taglines resonate most with you?


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