Tag(line)…You’re It!

At CHIEF, we know a thing or two about taglines—we happen to believe that ours is one of the best in the business. Not only is BE BRAVE a great reminder for our team to take the path less travelled on a day-to-day basis, it’s also a powerful signal that makes a big impression on our audiences. When creating a tagline, it’s important to consider its utility both internally and externally. Here’s one way to think about it that always helps me:

For everyone else, a tagline is a means of quickly determining who you are, what you’re all about and how you’re different from your competitors. For you, a tagline is an opportunity to become unforgettable.

That may seem like a tall order, and it is. It’s the rare tagline that can accomplish all of the above. Just remember that while a great tagline will set you apart from the pack, the best kind of tagline will capture the public’s imagination and develop its own brand equity. When I say “every kiss begins with ____” you can finish the sentence, right? That’s the goal.

When a line that you’ve created becomes inseparable from the accompanying brand name to the world at large, that’s when you get to add “Tagline Master” to your resume. For now, though, let’s focus on creating the conditions for the perfect tagline brainstorm workshop, the kind that will generate the most fruitful results including (hopefully) one that will stand above the rest. Below you’ll find a few tips for creating and evaluating taglines, and fostering a productive workshop.

Ockham’s Tagline Rule: the simpler, the better.

As the old writing rule goes, one should never use a word like “deleterious” when “harmful” will do the trick. The same rule applies to tagline writing. Simpler words and concepts will accomplish the objective: they will resonate universally, and they are easier to remember.

Be specific about what you do. Or don’t.

At CHIEF our tagline is “BE BRAVE,” not “A DIGITAL AGENCY THAT WANTS YOU TO BE BRAVE.” We don’t go into the specifics of what we do with our tagline, and it works for us. Meanwhile, Papa John’s Pizza’s tagline is “Better Ingredients. Better Pizza. It works for them!

Embrace the unusual

If you want your brand to stand out, it helps to be a little bit unusual. You have to be different, or at the very least, specific. Most tagline ideas that are different and/or specific sound strange at first. But try to lean into the discomfort when coming up with or evaluating something strange, and consider whether or not that feeling could actually be valuable.

If your first idea is the best idea, let it be the best.

We tend to favor ideas that emerge later in a creative generation process, and we’re biased against those that come to us early. “It can’t possibly be this easy,” we think, “there must be something wrong with this tagline.” In reality, this is no more true of an initial tagline concept than of the concepts that come along later in the process because…

Every tagline is flawed

“Just Do It” is flawed. “The Ultimate Driving Machine” is flawed. “The Happiest Place On Earth” is flawed. There’s something to dislike about every piece of writing like this that’s ever been written, because it’s easy to criticize any one handful of characters that purports to represent an entire brand. Try not to focus on “perfect”—it happens to be an extremely unhelpful metric for evaluating perfection.

With these tips and tricks, you’ll be ready to craft a line that will live on forever in the pantheon of great brand writing, right alongside “Think Different” and “Snap, Crackle, Pop.” Can’t wait to give it a whirl? Use these rapid-fire prompts below (along with the guidelines above) to come up with a winner on the spot for your organization.

  • What’s the truest thing you can say about your brand?
  • What is your brand’s mantra?
  • What does your audience care most about?
  • What would the most complimentary customer or client you’ve ever had say about your brand?
  • There’s a billboard on the highway for your brand with no image, just text. What does it say?
  • Your brand is a team of superheroes. What are you called?
  • There’s a movie in production about your brand. What is its title?
  • Write a tagline for your brand that rhymes.
  • Write a tagline for your brand using alliteration.

Your answers = your new taglines. Don’t forget to share your work with us on Twitter!OPEN CONFIGURATION OPTIONSOPEN CONFIGURATION OPTIONS

Justin McCarthy


Justin’s way with words and unwavering work ethic allow him to churn out well-crafted creative content that will win you over. Undaunted by tight timelines and challenging deliverables,…Meet Justin

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