What is a Tagline?

Mary McMahon
Mary McMahon

A tagline is a slogan that succinctly, memorably, and descriptively sums up a company or product. The art of crafting one is quite complex, and several consulting companies actually specialize in creating taglines for their clients. A well constructed slogan can endure in the minds of consumers for years; some taglines have actually outlived their products. Once a company has a good one, it includes it in all its marketing materials to get it into the minds of consumers so that they think about that company frequently.

Alliteration is one way to make a catchy phrase or tagline for a product.
Alliteration is one way to make a catchy phrase or tagline for a product.

A wide range of industries use taglines. Movies are famous for them, and those of many films have entered popular culture, regardless as to the quality of the film itself. Many people refer to “going where no man has gone before,” for example, without realizing that they are referencing Star Trek films. A movie tagline is typically included on its poster and in previews for the film, and famous film franchises may start early campaigns with cryptic posters that only display the slogan for the franchise, and nothing else.

"Love is a force of nature" is the tagline for "Brokeback Mountain.".
"Love is a force of nature" is the tagline for "Brokeback Mountain.".

In product advertising, taglines and jingles can make or break a product. Many people remember than M&M's “melt in your mouth, not in your hand” when they're at the candy store, or they “don't get mad, get Glad” when they buy garbage bags. One for a product is usually included in commercials and print advertisements, and sometimes on the product packaging as well, so that if someone remembers hearing about a “quicker picker-upper” on television, he or she can figure out which brand of paper towels the advertisement referred to.

"To boldly go where no man has gone before" is a tagline from Star Trek.
"To boldly go where no man has gone before" is a tagline from Star Trek.

Organizations also use taglines to brand themselves and their family of products. Apple once asked its users to “think different” for example, and Allstate lets its customers know that they're “in good hands.” These slogans are meant to promote a positive overall view of the company in question and to make potential customers feel good about that particular company. Some companies also use tongue in cheek taglines, like “for negative people” for a camera company.

Taglines are so globally pervasive that many people probably would recognized most, if not all, of the companies referenced above by their slogans alone. Most individuals can probably generate a sizable list if they sit down and think about it for a moment, and people might even catch themselves using one in the form of a snowclone in conversation.

Taglines are used as a brief summary of a film that is designed to generate interest.
Taglines are used as a brief summary of a film that is designed to generate interest.
Mary McMahon
Mary McMahon

Ever since she began contributing to the site several years ago, Mary has embraced the exciting challenge of being a wiseGEEK researcher and writer. Mary has a liberal arts degree from Goddard College and spends her free time reading, cooking, and exploring the great outdoors.

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Discussion Comments

anon275411

Taglines are good branding tools to keep customers asking for your product or services.

anon272503

@unnorth31: You can get a movie tagline writer job. They are copywriters that work for marketing agencies dealing with the movie studios. Tagline writing is essentially branding and marketing.

anon257097

Coca Cola has changed their tagline often. That is how they maintain a fresh appeal. It all depends on the strategy how a tagline is used. One of my favorites for Coke was "It is the real thing". They have a lot of interesting ones though.

anon212417

Now I know what a tagline is and I can submit my project.

reader888

There are so many good taglines out there. One of the best taglines, in my opinion, is the M&M's "melts in your mouth, not in your hands" one. Everyones knows it's for M&M's without being told, and it will stick around for many, many more years.

However, Method has another one of my favorites -- "People against dirty." It just makes me want to buy even more of their cleaning products.

upnorth31

I think it would be a fun job to be the person who comes up with taglines for different companies. It would be so neat to create a tagline that people use in general conversation for years to come. I love making people laugh, so funny taglines would be especially fun to come up with.

How do you get into this field? Is is something you go to school for? Do you need a marketing and advertising degree?

geronimo8

I never really thought about how often taglines are used, but now I realize that they are everywhere! What a great marketing technique! It's so true that people remember these sayings, and for such a long time. And when you are shopping, I'd say you are more likely to buy a product that you remember the tagline for, than a product you can't associate with any of your memories.

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