In this post I’ll show you the process to follow in order to create a strapline that has purpose and works , as well as the common pitfalls to avoid.
What is a marketing strapline?
A great marketing strap line should summarise what your brand stands for in just a few words. It doesn’t have to be descriptive (although some are, like eBay’s “The world’s online market place”), but it should support your brand positioning and communicate what you are about.
Why use a marketing strapline?
The benefits of developing and using your own brand strapline include:
- Instant brand positioning in just a few words
- Memory hook for potential customers
- Helps to develop affinity with your brand
- Differentiate yourself from your competitors
- A great customer marketing framing tool
This all sounds very simple, but trust me it isn’t.
A strap line must be done well, or not at all
I can remember the drawn out and painful affair that was my first attempt to implement a strap line at a company I worked for.
The mistakes I made were:
- Allowing too many people to have a say
- Losing focus on the point of having one
- Allowing the final version to be wholly uninspired and almost meaningless
Brands will literally spend hundreds of thousands of pounds on agencies to develop their marketing strap lines, with varying degrees of success.
One of the strap lines that grinds on me the most is Burger King’s “Have it your way”.
The introduction of this to their marketing was a total knee jerk reaction to the increasing popularity of Subway and it has absolutely no substance.
Who honestly goes in to BK and customises their burger? You have it how it is given, therefore I’m not having it my way at all.
On the flip side, McDonald’s “I’m lovin’ it” helps to support their strategy of tying the brand to positive emotional connections.
Coke do the same thing with their “Always Coca-Cola” with the double whammy of implying any moment is the right moment for a Coke, not just the summer.
Examples of great strap lines
Before we get to my tips on how to write a great marketing strapline, here are some examples of what I think are the best straplines in the business. These are all winning straplines that stand the test of time.The best straplines are short, punchy, “on brand” and have meaning!
- Just do it – Nike
- Impossible is nothing – Adidas
- I’m lovin it – McDonalds
- Because not every host is created equal – Review Hosting
- Reassuringly expensive – Stella Artois
- Because your worth it – L’Oreal
- The best a man can get – Gillette
- Every little helps – Tesco
- Never knowingly undersold – John Lewis
- The world’s local bank – HSBC
- Always Coca-Cola – Coca-Cola
- A diamond is forever – De Beers
- Does exactly what is says on the tin – Ronseal
- Intel inside – Intel
- Think different – Apple
- Beanz meanz Heinz – Heinz
- Don’t just book it. Thomas Cook it. – Thomas Cook
- Connecting people – Nokia
- Liquid Engineering – Castrol GTX
- Its good to talk – BT
- The ultimate driving machine – BMW
- Ah, Bisto! – Bisto
Here are my tips on how to go about creating a killer marketing strap line that has substance and benefits your marketing:
Tip one: Make sure it has substance
A strap line is not just a fancy marketing exercise to fill some office time and tick a box, it has to mean something and be grounded in reality or you shouldn’t have one at all.
For example, if you want to focus on customer support, is that a genuine strength of yours?
Just saying it won’t make it true, and the disconnect between the promise and reality will create problems with your customers.
I think that is what irritates me about Burger King’s, it just doesn’t mean anything.
Tip two: Keep the number of people working on it to a minimum
The larger the team, the more voices there are that want to be heard and the harder it is to come to a final decision.
I have personally learnt this the hard way.
Create an internal working team that has the authority to work up the strapline with out any external pressures.
Tip three: Stay on brand
Your strap line has to fit in with existing branding and make sense to your customers.
For example, if your customers are what we’d describe as ‘silver surfers’ (pensioners), don’t do a riff on a recent popular cultural reference or run with an aggressive tone.
Nike’s “Just do it” fits in perfectly with their slightly edgy branding and no-nonsense approach.
It also doesn’t limit their product range in any way, as it doesn’t make any references to a sport or even clothing.
Tip four: Be creative
Apple’s “Think different” is a great example of being creative.
It is aspirational, it positions the businesses internal culture, it is exciting and it is timeless.
It is also applicable to everything they do, not just one particular product or piece of technology.