Does Your Company Need a Tagline?

A tagline (also referred to as a motto or slogan) is one of the communication tools companies use to convey an attitude or personality, create culture and engage consumers. It’s a short phrase (think 3-5 words) that serves as a battle cry for your brand. It’s inspirational more than it is informative, and its goal is to motivate or intrigue your audiences/consumers. Taglines also help to differentiate your organization from your competitors. At Merit, we specialize in brand voice development, which includes taglines.

Some of the most famous taglines came from the brand giants like Nike (“Just do it”) and Apple (“Think different”). But that doesn’t mean smaller brands can’t use them as well. Stone + Cloth is a great example of a retail brand using a clever tagline (“Carry an education”) to highlight their story and mission; every product they sell helps provide scholarships for students in need.

Montreal-based handbag company Matt & Nat embraced the tagline “Live beautifully,” which is imprinted on all of their products. As they explain on their website: At Matt & Nat, we live by a simple motto, “Live beautifully.” Living beautifully means appreciating the humanity, creativity and positivity found in all of us. Our values include social responsibility, excellence, inclusiveness, integrity, learning, authenticity and, of course, love.

They go on to talk about their commitment to being sustainable and eco-friendly through the use of recycled materials. You’ll notice there’s no literal explanation of their products (through the use of words like: purses, backpacks, wallets, etc.) in their company name or tagline. Instead, they focus on telling a compelling story that’s memorable. Their company name contributes to that narrative by pulling from the words “material” and “nature.”

The best taglines speak directly to the consumer. Most often, these taglines are directives. At Merit, we believe every tagline should meet our S.U.R.E. criteria, which stands for: simple, unique, relevant and engaging.

Merit's S.U.R.E. Criteria:


Taglines are meant to be short and succinct. Keep your message simple and remember the goal is to inspire consumers to want to learn more about your brand.


Being thoughtful about your word choice and how certain sounds/phrases tend to stick in your mind or escape it completely. Opt for a motto that’s unforgettable and sets you apart.


Are you saying something meaningful to your audiences? Be authentic and tap into the issues and ideals that interest and motivate your consumers now.


Does your tagline speak to your audiences in a creative way? Does it challenge them or invite them into a community? Use language to make a human connection.

Six Steps to an Effective Tagline:

  1. Clarify what makes your brand different. What do you have to offer? Why is that important?
  2. Define your audiences and their needs.
  3. Think about your company name and what it implies. How can a tagline complement that name? (And if it’s time to rename your company, Merit can help with that too.)
  4. Analyze your competitors. What messages are they using? What resonates and what doesn’t?
  5. Generate word lists and experiment with putting terms together in different ways.
  6. Conduct Google searches to see if phrases you’re considering are already being used. Research trademarks and consult a legal professional if necessary.

Of course, creating an exceptional tagline is an art—which is why so many businesses seek the help of branding experts. After all, what you say is a big part of how you present yourself as a company. Not having a tagline is a lost opportunity to make an impact on your potential customers and partners. If you don't posses the expertise to craft a strategic slogan on your own, come to us.