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Are Taglines Dead?

For any small-to-mid-sized business, and even larger organizations, marketing is a core dimension of your business that must be managed just as carefully as your accounting and operations. Creating a strong image and messaging for your company brand is definitely an important investment and will help you build customer loyalty and win out over your competition. One marketing tool to consider is a tagline as a part of your B2B marketing strategy. However, the rise of social media and saturation of #hashtags has shifted small-to-medium and B2B business marketing strategies, raising the question, are taglines dead?

Are Taglines Even Effective?

A tagline is characterized as a clever or informative phrase used for advertising a company and/or product – but it’s more than just a description. Taglines, or corporate slogans, have been a staple for historical big-name companies like Coca-Cola and Apple. At one time, they were considered an essential component of brand recognition. In addition to defining what a company does, the tagline creates a personality in which buyers and partners can identify with and are drawn to. Elaborated on in a 2017 B2B article, a tagline can be used for several purposes:

  • Taglines can explain and summarize what a company does or offers. This is particularly useful for businesses with unusual or un-explicit names.
  • The tagline can indicate a brand’s uniqueness, making the company stand apart from others in terms of personality and values.
  • A tagline can also help create an internal corporate culture, serving as a code or mission statement for staff to stand behind and use in their work.

Think of the famous Pinkerton tagline, “We never sleep.” For an agency that evolved from famous detectives to protecting organizations and assets from threats, the imagery evoked in this statement emphasizes the dedication and efficiency of the company’s work. A tagline like this is unique, exciting, and assures the customer that this is a company that will take their needs seriously. However, not all taglines are as direct and creative, which can actually harm the brand associated with it.

When Taglines Hurt

While a good tagline doesn’t necessarily hurt to have, a poorly written tagline can turn customers off or confuse them. It can be very difficult to pick the right words that effectively resonate with the intended audience. When this happens, people will look past your tagline and fail to see the true value in what you’re trying to communicate.

Using generic sayings or pure corporate diction makes for an ineffective tagline as well, while using mundane or generic terminology can come across as unprofessional or even too familiar. It’s a balancing act that requires a deep knowledge of customer interests, as well as insight into how the company should address them. This is part of the reason why companies, particularly B2B businesses, have stopped using taglines in the first place. B2B competition is primarily with other businesses that basically offer the same service or product. Therefore, successfully differentiating the individual business may be a more complex order than just a single phrase.

What’s Trending Now?

Businesses have shifted to marketing themselves more on social media, through the strategic use of hashtags and headlines in content marketing materials. Because of social media’s reach, individual companies can generate interest in their brand by using trending hashtags to address specific developments or issues in their unique markets. However, the use of the hashtag actually doesn’t fully eliminate the utility of a tagline either.

One popular method for social media posting is to use branded hashtags communicating a company message or campaign, like Coca-Cola’s #ShareaCoke hashtag. While not necessarily a tagline, phrasing like this can accomplish the same communication goals while reaching a broader audience online.

Do I Need a Tagline?

Instead of assuming that taglines are a dead marketing strategy, ask yourself if your company actually needs a tagline. If your business name explains what you do, or if it’s doing well in sales and customer engagement, you probably don’t need one. For a B2B company it might be better to invest more in social media campaigns, but again, a strong tagline can still add value to your brand, if used wisely. If you’re trying to find a way to stand out and develop a business personality, then a tagline can help solidify your name and express your values to customers.

Either way, to achieve marketing success, it’s important to use social media and engaging web content to drive your brand, with or without a tagline. Don’t just focus on what your company does, but why your brand stands apart from others. If you haven’t set aside a budget for specific expenses like marketing and sales, consider doing so right away. Not only will this help your company remain financially healthy, but enable you to effectively calculate what marketing steps best align with your current needs and expenses.

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