A fascinating and often highly successful element of creative
communications is an organisation’s strapline. Sometimes called a ‘tag
line’, the strapline is a collection of words that accompany a
company’s logo or name. You know loads of them… How about Tesco’s
‘Every little helps’? Iconic ones like Zanussi’s ‘The appliance of
science’ and everyone of a certain age remembers ‘Beanz Meanz Heinz’.
And that’s what it’s all about – creating a memorable signpost to your
brand, identifying certain words with your product.
By necessity straplines need to be concise and copywriters like me
spend hours mulling over all sorts of different variations. Coming up
with the right one is usually always a product of pages of scribbled
notes, meetings, space gazing, soaking in the bath and bracing walks.
So, what is the anatomy of the strapline? What do I consider when I begin the process?
I need to get right under the skin of the business: what it does, its
values, benefits for customers, how the business sees itself, its
corporate tone of voice and, importantly, who its competitors are. Once
I’ve got to grips with these key pieces of information I begin to work
on ideas within a tight structure.
Keep it simple, less than five words of one syllable is
the goal; repeating the company name or where it’s located is not
‘Just do it’ Nike
Make it meaningful, even emotive, showing off the benefits of the product or service.
‘Because you're worth it’ L’Oreal
Be Honest. Don’t promise the world – you won’t be able to deliver it.
‘Never knowingly undersold’ John Lewis
Be original, human brains like alliteration, rhymes
and humour. But be careful, simply firing off three words that happen
to have the same initial letter is not going to cut it.
‘You shop, we drop’ Tesco Home Delivery
Reputedly, this is a strapline for an all Asian building company in
Southall: ‘You've had the cowboys now meet the indians’. Admit it,
you’d remember them! Along with this gem from a firm of undertakers:
‘We’re the last people to let you down’.
This brings us to personality. Make it your own.
Injecting personality into a strapline is great. It gives people a real
sense of a business. How approachable it is likely to be, some
organisations even use them to manage the expectations of their clients.
‘Reassuringly expensive’ Stella Artois
‘Think different’ Apple
Creating the perfect strapline can be tough and, for one reason or
another, plenty of organisations get it wrong. The strapline may be too
ambiguous, lengthy or bizarre so that nobody cares to relate to it or
take the time to understand what is being said. It may be just plain
dull; the use of clichés like ‘working together’ or the word ‘solutions’
are particular irritants of mine. You must also bear in mind your
target audience and what they will latch on to. You’ll know when you’ve
found it and sometimes something just works, even, in one well-know
case, where most people don't know what it means...
‘Vorsprung Durch Technik’ Audi
So, here’s my list of what goes in to crafting a great strapline:
- Keep it simple
- Make it meaningful and bring out benefits
- Be honest
- Be original
- Project personality
- Know your audience
Finally, live with it before you go live with it; you may discover
that you have missed a vital point, or, in the end it just doesn’t say
what you need it to.
Before I go, for the avoidance of any doubt... 'Does exactly what it says on the tin' - yes, it's Ronseal's strapline displayingsimplicity, benefits, honesty, originality and knowing who it's talking to.
Exciting, frustrating, brain-melting but ultimately hugely
satisfying; finding the right strapline that works well for your
business or organisation is a very rewarding part of building your brand
and deserves all the attention it gets. What does yours say about