Copywriting: How To Create Taglines That Stick

A copywriting student asked about taglines. How do you create one that’s meaningful?

Oddly enough, I’ve been tinkering with my tagline, word magic, because I fretted about the term: “magic” and its connotations.

I changed the tagline, but wasn’t happy, so I changed it back. Whatever its connotations, it works for me and what I do. I like it because it’s drawn from a client’s comment about my services.

You may be wondering, what’s a tagline in copywriting and marketing, and why is it important?

Copywriting: a tagline encapsulates the brand

Here’s an excellent article on taglines and slogans, which explains taglines like this:

Taglines tell consumers about the overall company without mentioning the product or service they offer.

For me, Apple’s “Think Different” is the best-ever tagline, because it truly makes sense in terms of Steve Jobs, Apple, and Apple’s products. Sadly, it seems that Apple has lost its rights over the “Think Different” trademark due to non-use:

The CJEU found that Apple failed to provide evidence of the Trademark’s actual and genuine use in the five years prior to 14 October 2016.

Hmmm… Steve Jobs died on October 5, 2011. Sadly it seems that no decision-maker at Apple paid attention to Think Different. (The term is one of Apple’s trademarks, and if you stop using a trademark, you lose the rights to it.)

Since a tagline does so much, in so few words, it’s one of the biggest challenges in copywriting. So, how do you create one?

How to create a tagline. All it takes is…

Famous tagline are… Famous. And genius.


“A diamond is forever.” (De Beers)

“Just do it.” (Nike)

“Finger-lickin’ good.” (Kentucky Fried Chicken)

So, how do you create a meaningful tagline for a company?

The process is simple, but it’s far from easy, because you’re hunting for something which wraps up the company in a few words, and is evocative (triggers emotions.)

Try this process.

  1. Research the company. Pay attention to what they do, and how they make their customers feel.
  2. Look at the company’s advertising. One of Australia’s best-remembered taglines is Yellow Pages’: Not happy, Jan!
  3. Chat with the company’s people; look at customer reviews.
  4. Keep going. The more you know, the better. That said, it’s more than likely that your best tagline arrives as a sudden hit of inspiration.

Copywriting: a few short, powerful words

Taglines are short. However, they need to be evocative; this makes the creation challenging. If the company hires an agency, they’re expensive. Ditto if a company hires an individual copywriter: developing a tagline takes time.

Tip: document what you do. Yes, all the interviews, all the research, and the psychology. Not only does this documentation help the client, it helps you as well—inspiration is more likely to occur if you write things down.

And have fun. You can’t grit your teeth over this process. As David Ogilvy said:

“The best ideas come as jokes. Make your thinking as funny as possible.”

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