When it comes to marketing terms, “strapline”, “headline”, “tagline”, and “slogan” are often mistakingly assumed to mean the same thing—but they’re not the same! Well… not exactly, anyway. In this article, I’ll dissect straplines, explain why they matter, share examples of some of the best straplines ever crafted, and offer tips on how to craft a memorable strapline for your business.
Now, I know some of you are strapped for time, so here’s the short version:
A strapline is a short, memorable phrase that’s used to describe a brand or product. It’s used in marketing materials such as advertisements, websites, and packaging to help consumers remember said brand or product.
Here’s a fun little game… I’ll write down some famous straplines, and you try to guess the brand they represent. (I’ll put the answers at the bottom of the article, though you probably won’t need them!)
- “Because You’re Worth It.”
- “Every Little Helps.”
- “Maybe She’s Born With It.”
- “I’m lovin’ It.”
- “Taste the Rainbow.”
What Is a Strapline?
A strapline is a brief statement that summarises the essence of a brand or product in just a few words. Straplines can sometimes be referred to as taglines or slogans—though the term slogan traditionally referred to a phrase used during competitions and political campaigns.
But, what’s the point? Why do you need a strapline?
Because a well-crafted strapline can make your brand stand out from the competition. It can create an emotional connection with your potential customers, and leave a lasting impression on them. Perhaps most importantly, it will communicate your brand values and personality, and improve brand recognition. If successful, they’ll remember you the way I remember “Have a break, have a KitKat.”
Strapline vs Headline: What’s the Difference?
Before we take a look at some fine examples of straplines, let’s talk a little about the difference between a strapline and a headline.
A headline is a short phrase or sentence at the top of an advertisement, article, website, newspaper, or other marketing material, that grabs the reader’s attention and entices them to read more.
Whenever I get the chance to point out a good headline, I turn to Oatly’s “This Tastes Like Sh*t!”
This is NOT a strapline, but it works great as a headline. It immediately draws the eyes to the text, and I can’t help but feel compelled to keep reading.
Headlines are important—vital, even, but they simply don’t serve the same purpose as a strapline. Despite my affection for the above headline, “This tastes like sh*t,” is not what comes to my mind when I think of Oatly. Instead, I remember Oatly’s strapline: “It’s like milk but made for humans.”
*Disclaimer: I have nothing against milk! It’s a good strapline, though.
5 Examples of Memorable Straplines
1. Nike – Just Do It
One of the most famous straplines of all time belongs to Nike: “Just Do It.” This simple 3-word phrase has become synonymous not only with Nike but with sports and fitness culture around the world. The phrase is effective because it inspires people to take action and push themselves beyond their limits.
2. Apple – Think Different
Apple became known for its minimalist designs and innovative products early on. Its strapline “Think Different” positions Apple as an innovative company that values creativity and originality above all else. Their entire “Think Different” campaign is awe-inspiring, and it appeals to their target audience on an emotional level.
3. Coca-Cola – Taste The Feeling
Coca-Cola’s “Taste The Feeling” associates positive experiences and emotions with drinking Coke, rather than focusing on the product itself. This emotional appeal helps consumers connect with the brand on an emotional level. Planning a fun get-together with friends? Don’t forget the bottle of Coke. On a date with a loved one? Share a bottle of a Coke.
4. M&M’s – Melts in Your Mouth, Not in Your Hands
M&M’s strapline emphasises the unique selling proposition of the product—that it won’t leave your hands messy. Because who wants sticky chocolate fingers? No one, probably, but especially not the military men fighting WWII. That’s exactly who Forrest Mars sold M&Ms to during WWII, allowing U.S. Army soldiers to carry around chocolate in tropical climates without it causing a mess.
The playful rhyme and catchy jingle have made this strapline a classic, though, and even today, it still works.
5. Airbnb – Belong Anywhere
Airbnb’s “Belong Anywhere” strapline emphasises the brand’s mission to create a sense of belonging for travellers no matter where they are in the world. This emotional appeal has helped Airbnb to become one of the most successful sharing economy companies in the world.
There you have it, five examples of awesome straplines. There are other obvious classic examples, too, like De Beers’ “A Diamond is Forever,” and MasterCard’s “There are some things money can’t buy. For everything else, there’s MasterCard.” If you’re looking for inspiration, take a look at some of your favourite brands’ straplines, and try to figure out why they work.
5 Tips for Crafting a Winning Strapline
A great strapline will be memorable, concise, and relevant to your brand. It should capture the essence of what makes your business unique and differentiate it from competitors. Here are a few tips to consider when crafting your strapline:
1. The Sugarsnap Rule – Keep It Sweet; Keep It Snappy
Your strapline should be no more than 7-10 words long. This ensures that it’s easy to remember and can be used consistently across all marketing materials. Nike managed to just do it (sorry, couldn’t help it) in 3 words. Write down all of your ideas, play around and see what works, then pick up your editor’s axe and chop away those superfluous words.
2. Focus on Benefits – Consider Your Value Proposition
Instead of simply describing what your business does, focus on the benefits that it provides to customers. For example, instead of saying “We sell shoes”, try “Step up your style with our shoes”. As a copywriter, I won’t just write your copy, I’ll help you connect with your customers and supercharge your sales.
3. Emphasise Emotion – Use Language That Resonates With Your Target Audience
Your strapline should speak directly to your target audience using language that they can relate to. If you’re targeting millennials, for example, you might use more casual or playful language than if you were targeting baby boomers. For advice on writing personality-infused copy, I wrote another post that might help you: 9 Copywriting Tips.
You’ll need to consider your target audience’s likes and dislikes, and culture. Their fears, beliefs, and of course, their desires. Tap into your target audience’s emotions by choosing words and phrases with strong connotations, or associations with positive feelings.
4. Highlight Your Unique Selling Proposition
Avoid generic phrases or cliches that could apply to any business in your industry. Your strapline should set you apart from competitors and highlight what makes you special. Highlight your unique selling proposition (USP) – what sets you apart from competitors? Make sure your strapline communicates what makes you special.
5. Test It Out – Surveys and Focus Groups Are Your Friends
Even when you think you’ve come up with the perfect strapline, it may not work as well as you think it will with your target audience. It’s a good idea to have two, or three options, and get feedback from members of your target audience before you decide which one to use.
Use focus groups to rate your slogans on memorability and attractiveness, and take advantage of split testing, with different variations of your slogan used on different platforms, then watch the results carefully. Once you have enough data, you should be able to adjust and refine your strapline until you get it just right.
Final Thoughts, Answers, and a TL;DR
A strapline or a slogan is a short catchy phrase that describes a brand. It can highlight your brand or product’s unique selling proposition, and create an emotional connection with your target audience.
Answers to the famous straplines at the start of this article:
- “Because You’re Worth It.” – L’Oréal Paris
- “Every Little Helps.” – Tesco
- “Maybe She’s Born With It.” – Maybelline
- “I’m lovin’ It.” – McDonald’s
- “Taste the Rainbow.” – Skittles
I hope this article gives you some ideas on what makes a strapline work, and how you can use one to establish your brand and set yourself apart in today’s competitive landscape. Coming up with a strapline isn’t easy, nor is it an overnight task, but it can have a fantastic impact on brand recognition, and help you grow your business. Begin by understanding your brand identity and your value proposition—this will help you generate ideas for a strapline. If you have any questions about straplines, or if you need some help, don’t hesitate to reach out!