A great article appeared yesterday in Business Week online called: Slogans That are the Real Thing.
Written by Smart Answers columninst, Karen Klein, the article is a Q&A with San Mateo based marketing and branding expert Eric Swartz. It covers what it is that makes a great tagline and includes some results from a study Swartz conducted to determine which taglines have stood the test of time and have helped companies increase their brand equity.
Swartz recommends taglines should be short: 7 words or fewer and must emphasize how your company or product is different from your competitors. He gives an example of that differentiation:
"For instance, there may be about five positions that toothpaste companies can stake out: tastes good, fights cavities, whitens teeth, freshens breath, etc. When Tom's of Maine entered the market very late, they had to pitch something different -- the environmental benefits of their brand. Otherwise, they would have just encroached on what their competitors were doing and diluted their entry into the marketplace."
As to what makes a bad tagline, Swartz warns against making it too clever-sounding such that it calls unnecessary attention to itself "Look at me, I'm a clever tagline!" He says that a tagline that "comes across as pompous, nonsensical, meaningless, or confusing" misses the mark or can even backfire.
If your firm is thinking of creating a tagline, remember that a firm tagline can be good for big picture branding, but individual practice areas may merit their very own taglines.
Think about the difference of importance to you, at purchase time, between the Proctor & Gamble brand and tagline/mission "We will provide products of superior quality and value that improve the lives of the world's consumers." verses their specific paper towel ("Bounty. The quilted quicker picker upper.") or deodorant ("Secret. Strong enough for a man, yet made for a woman.") brands and the product specific marketing they do.
If you have a Business Valuation niche or Retail practice group, your commitment to those specialized services is amplified when you take the time to brand them independently.
This article is a great read if you're going to go down the tagline path anytime soon.