Tag lines in advertising campaigns can be good or bad. Some of us think that more often than not, they’re bad.
“Tag lines”, in this instance, are those lovely little catch phrases usually plastered across a magazine ad or billboard, or even fading from view as a commercial wraps up. You know, the “Just Do It” stuff. (That particular tag line actually works reasonably well.)
One of our readers, Bryan Thombs of Evomo (cycling clothing), sent the following email to get this particular conversation going;
Have an idea for a topic… thought I would run it up the ole Kool-Aid flag pole. It seems like a good topic for the bicycle industry and marketing dialog.
Just thinking today about the Evomo brand (you know the clothing company I have created) and I have people (friends, family, industry peers) telling me that Evomo needs a tag line… maybe? As they start telling me this, what comes out of their mouth is ultimately a question more than a confident statement. I also begin to think. Does Evomo really need a tag line? I had always thought no way, never!
Well, personally I scoff at tag lines. I find many of them contrived, unrelated to the brand they are attached to, trying way too hard and just not memorable so why bother even having one. Some also just seem to be telling us what to do, and I would rather decide for myself what to do, thanks.
In many cases the amount of money and time spent having a team of people think up some amazing but simple line, is so unbelievable. Not to mention all the market research and data that finally comes together to present the “ultimate” tag line that some how encompasses everything about the company and its products. It also relates to each and every customer, new and old! I think it’s impossible, but does that
“ultimate” tag line some how exist somewhere? Could it be discovered one day by just the right marketing/agency monkey and become the secret hook that convinces your customers that you are the ultimate and thus your sales increase 1000% after the first month?
Now, I am not intending to rip on any company in particular. If it seems that way, it’s really just my evil twin which is bitter, jaded and argues with me about everything. Its also just my dissection of a very expensive aspect of marketing a brand that I am entering into and finding completely unecessary, or maybe necessary. I mean, I would like to have my sales increase 1000% and have everyone realize that I am the ultimate, who wouldn’t!
It seems that the purpose of a tag line is to be memorable and to let everyone know you are the “ultimate”. Ultimate? Really, ultimate at what? I was reading a few new cycling magazines this weekend (which) had me really looking at adverts to see just who has a tag line and what it is. Funny, how right there I was already convinced that a tag line were not important since I could not remember any at all. Well, I remember one: “Just do it”. Thats the only one I know off the top of my head. I had to actually look to see what other tag lines there might be.
This is a list of tag lines I found:
Wherever you ride
Redefining disk brakes
Between you and the trail
A better bike begins here
Love the ride
The art of high performance
Prepare to ride
Get the grip
Makes any ride better
Drive your passion
Born to ride
Where you gonna yak?
We get you
I laugh and figure the same people that write the voice overs for action movie trailers must think this stuff up.
Seems to me out of the 15, one tag actually mentions the product and one cleverly incorporates part of the brand’s name. The rest can be pretty much applied to any product for sale on the open market, including cars, detergent, shoes, toilet paper, lawn mowers and denture adhesives. That didnt seem like a good thing to me. Some just seemed lame.
All of this makes me wonder:
Would it be better that the tag line describes the product and/or company rather than just be some incomplete sentence stuck onto a logo mark? What is the purpose of a tag line anyway, especialy if it’s so vague? Is the risk of having people goof on your tag line or the company “good publicity”? If a customer (new or old) reads the tag line, does it positively or negatively affect their opinion of the company… maybe they don’t really care. I would want to know. Is having a tag line something you have to have? Everyone else has one- so should we.
So there you have it. My 15 minutes of ranting about tag lines.
Hope all is well,
There are a lot of really good points in that email- hence this post coming to be.
Like the title bar of this site mentions; Nobody is safe, not even us, from the slings and arrows of outrageous mockery or simple praise.
So here is the current Masi ad, as seen in the current issue of ROAD magazine;
“It’ll move you.” I know I’m not going to get a Pulitzer or anything, but it didn’t seem bad at the time. We were struggling with placing a bunch of copy in the ad, similar to the first one, or just keeping it simple. We went with the simple. As you can see, it wasn’t one of those “Just Do It” moments.
This is just to point out how hard it is to come up with that winning tag line, even when you don’t have a print deadline a few hours away. Tag lines are what I have called a “necessary evil” in some circumstances, but they can do almost as much harm as good. Get the tag line wrong and you are stuck with endless mockery and ridicule, which usually is not a good thing.
Now the floor is open to discussion!
Chief Kool-Aid Dispenser