3 Types of Taglines & How to Write Them

Recently, an art-collecting friend told me of a purchase she made on vacation. She was having an unforgettable visit to Amsterdam, filled with luscious ethnic foods, eye-popping architecture, hours meandering around the best art museums… you get the idea!

On her second-to-last day, she realized she hadn’t found that perfect piece to remember the trip by. (A piece of art from each city she traveled to is a must in her book!)

The hotel concierge circled a neighborhood on her map. She ventured out and found herself there after a pleasant 20-minute walk.

Upon arrival, though, there was a problem.

There were blocks and blocks of multi-story galleries and shops…

So. Many. Options… and only an hour or two to shop before her afternoon houseboat tour! She started walking briskly to scan the names of all the establishments… Massar Gallery…. Hutton and Hertz… Koolhaas Gallery… They all sounded similar. Most had dark storefronts with heavy curtains, so choosing wasn’t simply a matter of eyeballing the merchandise from street-level.

My friend was starting to wonder if this excursion would be fruitful, when she spotted a sign that offered both the NAME of the boutique (something in Dutch) AND a PHRASE (in English!) that described what sort of pieces they sold:

Small-scale paintings by local artists in the styles of the Dutch masters.

She told me she felt like a moth drawn to flame in that moment.

She needed to pack or ship it home, so it needed to be small.
She wanted a painting, not a sculpture.
She didn’t want something made in another country and shipped here for sale.
She had fallen in love with some of the Dutch masters’ paintings in the Rijksmuseum.

She needed a small-scale painting by a local artists in a style of the Dutch masters.

She stopped in her tracks, went in, and purchased not one – but three – perfect (for her) paintings that currently hang in a set in her dining room.

The branding lesson in this story?

Whether you have an actual storefront or a digital storefront, the *best* way to attract the right clients is to be very clear about who you are – and how you can help them.

Taglines and slogans are short and concise, but *powerful*! They show the right people that you have the solution for them. They help people connect with you before they even get to know you.

Let’s examine strategies you can use to create a blockbuster tagline or slogan for your own brand.

🎥 As always, if you’re more of a video person, tune in here watch. For the written article, continue on!

First, let’s ask: Do you need a tagline or slogan?

Let’s back up a step and ask an important question: When do you need a tagline for your business?

If you have a brand or business name that doesn’t immediately communicate the three w’s (who, what, why?), employing a tagline or slogan can be the extremely helpful – perhaps even necessary. When people are seeking out a solution, they want to know *right away* if you’ve got it. Will you be able to help them with the problem or opportunity at hand?

We want them to understand this within an instant, so your tagline can serve as a subtitle of sorts – letting them know they are in the right place… (or conversely, that they are not!).

My brand is an example of one that is well-served by a tagline. My name is Kaye Putnam and I am the Psychology Driven Brand Strategist. I have a personal brand, so my website and company name is simply KayePutnam.com.

Without a tagline, no one really knows what I do.

I use two taglines. One is simply the title I’ve chosen for myself to help people identify who I am and what I do:

The Psychology-Driven Brand Strategist.

When my prospects see this, they immediately understand how I can help them. I use psychology to develop brands that connect businesses emotionally and subconsciously with their target audience. I focus on helping entrepreneurs reach clients and customers on a deeper level.

The second tagline is one I use in places where people already know I help build brands:

I help entrepreneurs change the world with what they know.

This one is a little less concrete, but it speaks to the results my services provide – and who they are for.

So, if your brand’s name doesn’t clearly communicate what you do, and who you help – consider adding a tagline to your toolbox of brand assets.

But craft it carefully, friends! To work well, it needs to be concise and extremely clear. (Winston Churchill is usually credited with writing, “If I had had more time, I would have written a shorter letter.” We must apply that philosophy of brevity to a tagline!)

To help you develop a tagline that is right for your brand, let’s explore the three main types that I recommend to my clients.

(Note: There isn’t a “right” one here – so I suggest you brainstorm taglines within each of these categories to find the best option that fits your brand! Take your time and really work through the different possibilities!)

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1. The Differentiation Tagline

A differentiation phrase is basically a rallying cry for your tribe. Why should they choose you over everybody else in the market? Let them know with your tagline.

One of my very first clients was a blogger in the military lifestyle niche who had a blog called “JoMyGosh.” (Her name was Jo, of course!)

The tagline we came up with for her brand was “Stories that feel like coming home”. This is her differentiation point. She tells stories that would make military families *feel* like they are at home – that they were accepted, that they were in the right place. She is very accepting and inclusive of a variety of views held by people who live the military lifestyle. So she wants to ensure her target audience knows they can be comfortable reading her stories and sharing their own.

Apple also uses a differentiation tagline with “Think Different”. There’s that rallying cry! It’s almost a mini-manifesto. “We won’t buy a PC! We’re creative and innovative, gosh darn it!” If you want to stand out and be different, Apple is for you. This tagline makes that clear.

When L’Oreal’s uses “Because You’re Worth It”, they’re showcasing a strong point of view. We, as consumers, can select their products because this opinion resonates with us. If we feel we are worthy – and/or we want that to be the case – they are a good fit for our beauty needs.  

State Farm’s differentiation tagline is a memorable one: “Like a good neighbor, Statefarm is there.” It communicates that they different from other options in the market. Insurance companies are often perceived as very corporate and impersonal, but State Farm wants you to see them as completely different – like a good neighbor who’s going to help you out when you have an emergency.


2. The Results-oriented Tagline

The results-oriented tagline focuses on the outcome. It helps people understand exactly what they can expect from your brand.

One of my clients, Dr Katie Henry’s tagline is “Fuel Your Joy.” When you choose her for personal coaching, health coaching, or business coaching, you can expect to experience the universal outcome of joy. She helps her clients ‘fuel their joy’ in all aspects of their lives. This is made clear in her tagline.

Here’s a fun one… M&M’s famously “Melt in your mouth, not in your hand.” Again, this tells us what the product does and what you can expect. It lets us know how this delicious little product will perform! (And if you’re a mom like me, you’re probably thinking, “Yay! Less mess to clean up! M&Ms are for us!”)

Southwest Airlines uses a tagline that is also a great sound bite – it’s uber-catchy! “Ding, you are now free to move about the country.” It communicates the outcome – what customers get. Their accessible pricing and frequent routes deliver freedom of travel. (Side note: Giving you a trigger like “ding” is simply reinforcing their brand identity. They’re an airline that makes travel simple! Genius.)

3. The Literal Tagline

The literal tagline is the straight-shooter of the bunch. It just tells people what you do. It’s not necessarily emotional or catchy (though it can be). Its most critical goal is to clarify your business purpose. (And remember, confusion kills sales. So, although this is a simple strategy, it’s an effective one.)

My tagline, “The Psychology Driven Brand Strategist,”is a literal tagline. I want people to know right out of the gate what strategies I use to help them develop their best brands. I want them to know I use proven methods and principles based in psychology.

The New York Times’ tagline is “All the News That’s Fit to Print.” While there is a bit of a differentiation going on there too, it’s mainly telling us that it’s a news source and that it’s comprehensive but discerning.

BMW uses “Designed for Driving Pleasure.” This direct statement tells us what we need to know: It’s a vehicle. It’s not just for getting from point A to point B. They’ve purposely made it fun to drive. So, if that’s what you seek – this is for you!

Dollar Shave Club has come up with a literal tagline that also makes us chuckle. “Shave Time. Shave Money.” It’s cute. But more importantly, it tells us exactly what purpose the brand’s product serves.

Note: As you can see, it’s possible to blend these tagline types, too. For purposes of brainstorming your options, I suggest approaching each category as a separate silo. If you end up with a tagline that straddles two – or even three – of them, that’s fine! But is’ not necessary for an effective asset.

Speaking of brainstorming… let’s do it!


Brainstorm Your Possible Taglines

Now it’s time to spend some time on each category, and brainstorm several different options within each. Here are some questions to ask yourself. I suggest you write out the answers and let them inform and inspire your process.

For the differentiation tagline:

  • What makes you different than other choices / competitors?
  • What have your previous clients told you about why they chose you – or why you were the clear choice for them?
  • What are the things that you believe – that others in your space may not?

For the results-oriented tagline:

  • What problems do you solve for your ideal client?
  • How do those problems show up for them in their day-to-day?
  • How do your clients feel before they work with you – or before they buy / use your product?
  • What is standing in the way of their success or desired goal before your work together – or before they access your product?
  • How do they feel and how are things different after their purchase or work with you?

For the literal tagline:

  • What exactly is your product or service?
  • Who exactly is it best for?
  • What specific tactics or strategies do you use for your clients?
  • What exactly is your product used for, made with, etc?


Invest some time in this process, and I know you will land on something (or things!) that are just right for your brand!

And, here’s the smart way to leverage this work: You may end up with more options that just the single tagline you’ll use forever. That’s a good thing!  Even if it’s not crystal clear yet which tagline is THE ONE – the best or *most perfect* – feel free to use your really good results as headlines, social media quote graphics, or other positioning phrases. Your intellectual hard work can be utilized in a variety of places.


Keep it emotional.

Last thing: Don’t forget your clients’ psychology when working through this!

We shouldn’t lose site of the fact that people want to connect with people – not just companies. So, your brand’s core values should be apparent in your tagline, just as it is in your other brand assets.

One way to cull through the options you brainstorm will be to pass them through the filter of your brand archetypes. If you have two  – or several – that you like, which one(s) are most aligned with the basic themes and motivations of your archetypes? Which ones use words that reflect your types?

My brand’s second tagline (“I help entrepreneurs change the world with what they know.”) is one that conveys ideas consistent with both my primary and secondary archetypes – Sage and Magician.

Apple’s “Think Different” lives its Sage and Maverick archetypes out loud. (And so succinct! Totally genius.)

General Electric’s “Imagination at Work” enchant and engages – with one part Magician, one part Girl / Guy Next Door.

Lay’s Potato Chips put their Entertainer archetype right out front with “Betcha Can’t Eat Just One.”

In conclusion… The best taglines are clear, memorable, and relay personality. To really hit those all-important emotional triggers, I definitely recommend you prioritize use of either the differentiation tagline or the results-driven tagline. Those will have more of an emotional impact with your target audience.

If your brand’s name is confusing or you’re concerned about brand clarity, a literal tagline will work well – but emotions knock it out of the park every time!

Ready to learn how to leverage emotions in YOUR brand?

Ready to follow a PROVEN framework tapping into that emotional branding – to short-cut connection and make more sales?

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1 Comment

  1. Kate Frances

    This is exactly the article I needed to read today!! Thank you Kaye for writing it and thank you universe for getting it in front of me
    I’ve spent the morning trying to come up with a tagline and in only a few minutes of reading this article I’ve hit on 2 that I can’t get out of my head-that’s a good sign right?
    Keep up the great work
    love Kate
    CreateFully Coaching- Mindset Coaching for artists who want to Live Fully, Work Fully, CreateFully!
    -Create what you love, love what you create


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