The tail wagging the dog: Making your tagline effective
Usually, the phrase “tail wagging the dog” conjures up images of chaos and bad leadership. It’s one step from “inmates running the asylum.” No one wants that.
If you treat your tagline like the “tail end” of your marketing, it’ll be just that. If it isn’t developed as an integrated part of your brand development, it’ll just hang out there like an uncoordinated appendage, sending a message that doesn’t express your value or support your message. Soon it may take on a life of its own creating chaos and brand confusion.
Too often the under-appreciated tagline is an afterthought, a marketing stepchild. (“Do we need a tagline? Jones & Associates has one.”) However, its potential to be an effective communication tool in the branding tool chest is huge.
When carefully crafted and used well, a tagline can drive a campaign.
- Its concise encapsulation of the essence of your message gives the tagline its advantage. Taglines are a stellar example of “Less is more.” These days as we are increasingly bombarded with messaging, the less we have to strain to recall the better.
- Taglines should be catchy. The catchier something is, the more memorable. The best taglines are short and clever. Anything that plays with your brain is going to engage you longer.
- Taglines imply your value. They grease the wheels for why someone should do business with you.
A case in point is the wonderful tagline The Richards Group implemented for M.D. Anderson Cancer Center: Making Cancer History. Perfect on so many fronts:
- Short and clever, two important factors to aid memory retention in the brains of our graying population
- Play on words: the double meaning engages your mind, reinforcing memorability
- Strong statement that speaks to the cutting edge value of their results
- Positive, emotional message to patients about the effectiveness of their treatment
These three little words are something of a miracle in themselves: they evoke a strong, positive and memorable response. Even though I’m sure M.D. Anderson paid top dollar, they got a bargain. This is the tagline that keeps on giving—it’ll be making history for a long, long time.
So, be sure when you are beginning your brand development to think about the end—the tail end. Your tagline should be an important, integral element that works with your brand message, not against it. Don’t let the tail wag the dog!