There are many ways to choose a strap-line for your company or product campaign but there is one rule – the strap-line of choice should be engaging it must hook the reader.
A good strap line makes you think, promises something, provides a guarantee of performance or confirms your identity. The strap line is the pithy statement that reinforces your position and states a claim for your differentiation. At different stages of a business life and under different leadership your strap line reveals the inner focus of the organisation or product by focusing either on the emotional, ideas, and concepts or the rational, performance claims and statements of fact. The choice of strap line is not a matter of right or wrong, it is a question of positioning. However, it is a matter of good and bad. Which ever option you choose, above all avoid the wishy-washy, undifferentiated platitude that adds nothing to the reader’s experience.
In segmenting strap lines I have identified 6 options to choose from:
- Don’t have one!
- The hint of self actualization
- The proverbial ‘big idea’
- The ‘big idea’ as instruction
- The performance claim
- Say it straight!
The first four options require belief and faith – the last two options require measurable proof. Choose the option that best suits your business or product today – try to be brave and don’t just settle for the easy options, use the strap line to push your differentiation and help the brand to stand out in its market.
Option one: Don’t have one.
The transcendental strap line is conspicuous by its absence. This is an enigmatic choice and relies on the overall cache and image of the brand to transcend the need for a strap line in the first place. It is as if the customer is so intimate with the brand the strap line already exists in the in the subconscious and is written by the customer themselves every time they see the brand. Not a recommended option if your brand isn’t part of the fabric of your customer’s world. Lesser business mortals can always do with the help of a well considered strap line.
These are all brands without a strap line
Option two: The hint of self actualization.
This is the rarified or philanthropic vision. This strap line is metaphysical and engages us with an ideal – the promise of a better world. Rarely used accept by super brands, charities, or political parties who have a vested interest in our future and who are truly in a position of influence.
BP “Beyond Petroleum”
Orange ‘The future’s bright”
Option three: The proverbial ‘big idea’
This option is comfortably employed by many consumer brands. Rarely used by B2B companies as they are uncomfortable to promote their brand as an idea – all the more reason to try. There have been some great conceptual strap lines. They often have the same structure as a proverb, i.e. they capture some fundamental truth and persuade us of the truth by the way the phrase constructed. Sometimes they unashamedly plagiarize proverbs and usurp our collective subconscious.
Tesco “Every little helps”
Guinness “Good things come to those that wait”
Persil “Dirt is good”
Option Four: The instruction
This is a development of the conceptual strap line. In this option the big idea is expressed as an instruction rather than a truth or proverb. If we are honest we love to be told what to do, from a marketing perspective it negates our responsibility and gives us permission to purchase what we desire. Many brands take advantage of this confident strap line execution. Again not widely used in B2B and yet can be highly effective to underline differentiation
Nike “Just do it”
Apple “Think Different”
Option Five: The performance claim
Probably the most common strap line type. It is the natural choice for product brand promotion. This type promotes the business or product from a performance angle. This strap line makes a claim it is prepared to defend empirically. We must be careful not to make claims that are vague, unbelievable or difficult to prove. If we do it can make the strap line un-provable. The customer intuitively senses this and it can make the strap line disingenuous.
Duracell “lasts longer”
BMW “The ultimate driving machine”
Pickfords “The careful movers”
Option Six: Say it straight
This is the purely factual positioning type strap line. A favourite with B2B companies and the most rational option available in the strap line armory. It can only ever tell half the story as it lacks emotional and conceptual content. It is necessary to be able to communicate to customers what we do in strap line length phrase but am loathe to use this in campaigns there is no hook, no intrigue, no creativity, no reason to buy. Not recommended.
N-Power “Electricity and gas"
If you need help with developing a strapline drop me an email to firstname.lastname@example.org