A tagline should say something meaningful about the company, shouldn’t it?

The title of this post might seem blindingly obvious, but apparently it isn’t. Last week, at an IABC France event on adapting global communications campaigns to local markets, a speaker talked about the need to adapt taglines (and other branding elements) to local markets. Now, as luck would have it, my firm is currently in the middle of a branding project for an international company, so I was really interested by what he had to say.

In the original English, the tagline of the company (which I’ll name below) was “Onward”. In French, it was “Le progrès en marche” (which their translation team said was “progress in motion” but two of us spontaneously and simultaneously translated it as “progress in progress”). The German rendering was “Zukunftsweisend” (which more or less means “towards the future”). I really liked this example of intelligent translation — focusing on the essence but not the words.

Unfortunately, I accidentally deleted my notes, so I couldn’t remember what the name of the company was, but I was pretty sure it was a car company. I asked some others who had attended. Someone else thought it was an insurance company. Finally, I tracked down my answer…and it was ExxonMobil.

The fact that we were both so far off the mark really speaks volumes about the effectiveness of the tagline. I accept that a tagline doesn’t have to be a straight descriptor of the company, but surely it should say something about the essence of the company so that you can at least remember who’s tagline it is.

“Just do it” is memorable, in part, because we all know how hard it is to just get off the couch and just move.

The other day the head of the Chinese market at my client company asked what the MacDonald’s tagline “I’m lovin’ it” has to do with hamburgers. But I think it does. It’s really a verbal and onomatopoeic expression of that feeling you get when you bite into hot, yummy food and say, “MMMmmm” to yourself.

So what do you think?  What are examples of taglines that you think really capture the essence of a company or product, and what are taglines that seem completely random? 

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2 responses to “A tagline should say something meaningful about the company, shouldn’t it?

  1. One I think is excellent is Givaudan’s… "Engaging the senses". In French it’s "Révélez les sens". Givaudan is a flavors & fragrances company, so it fits them beautifully! Nestlé isn’t too bad… "Good Food, Good Life".

  2. Thanks, Tara, Givaudan is both a good example of matching a tagline to the company essence and of intelligent translation. Thought association from your Nestlé example: I really like "Life’s good" for LG electronic appliances because it gives their vision but also has the link between the letters of the company’s name and the first letters of the words.

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