Whose line is it anyway?

Before we get into the nitty-gritty, what even is a strapline?

They are basically business catchphrases, slogans or small groups of words that make up a memorable sentence. A good strapline should reflect who you are, what you do as a business and alert your target audience to your main business values in a snappy soundbite.

The almighty strapline basically sits on top of a carefully planned brand strategy, acting like a beacon, streaming out a bold and simple message.

When it comes to branding, the big bad companies out there spend troves of money finding the right strapline for their brand, because they understand the colossal impact it can have on their audience. They know that words have the power to shape perception and buying habits.

Customers buy from brands they trust and can relate to. Audiences flock to websites that have strong stories and values that align with the individual and society.

Great straplines can also make your company look better than your competitors, who are essentially selling the same product or idea. They can create loyal customers who believe they are buying from someone who understands them and their lifestyles.

Up in lights

To really bring home how much sway straplines can have and how they push you to think in a very specific way about a company, here are two of the best straplines out there:

  1. Because you’re worth it
  2. Just Do it

99% of the modern world know which brands these straplines belong to. The clever trick is that we aren’t just thinking about the company, we’re also subconsciously accepting a very carefully planned brand message.

The globally recognised because you’re worth it, is a brilliantly executed strapline. Firstly, it answers the question ‘Why should I buy from you?’. Secondly, it makes you think that buying luxury or treating yourself is a worthwhile investment. And thirdly, it implies L’Oréal Paris is good enough for your tastes.

The brand flatters your ego, tells you that they are better quality than their competitors and so makes you think they are value for money. All in 5 unassuming words.

Just Do it is a fantastic strapline for a sports brand because it inspires action, positivity, a drive to do better, and ultimately to buy a brand that helps you do that. Nike even capitalises the ‘Do’ so you only associate that exact phrase with the brand.

Great straplines tap into our human nature, for Nike that means playing into our need to always improve and be our best selves.

The Perfect Recipe

So what makes a great strapline?

I asked resident graphic designer and co-owner of Bamboo, Simon Nolan –

“Your strapline basically sits next to your brand and acts as a message, helping users to sum up your ethos, your values and what you are about. The strapline is the introduction and summary of who you are. A great strapline should act like the glue that holds your content together and should be the start of a strong and consistent brand story that runs from your website right through to your business cards.”

Creating a good strapline is like pouring icing on top of a cake so that it trickles down between the layers. It strengthens your image, puts a bold idea out there for your audience to digest and helps streamline your business values.

So how do you go about creating a strapline?

  1. Keep it Simple

If you take one thing from this article, it should be ‘the simpler the better’. Flowery constructions or wordy poetry have no place in the strapline cattle market. You want short, sharp words that pack a punch.

  1. Make it Memorable

Along with a simple idea and message, you want someone to remember your brand, and for the right reasons. Whether you are a big or small company, when a loyal customer sees your strapline they should immediately think of you. In an ideal world they should even speak about your strapline to other people, think Budweiser or Specsavers.

How do you make it memorable? Humour is a great trick, as is appealing to someone’s emotions. You need to understand your audience and what makes them tick and then use your strapline as a mirror back to their own values. But keep it honest, consumers can smell a red herring three google clicks away.

  1. Stay Positive

So, you’ve got simple and you’ve got memorable, now you need positive.  You don’t want to be remembered for making children cry or horrifying your core audience (although sometimes that can work). Stay positive, people always want a happy ending to a story.

  1. Be Unique

One of the big reasons that straplines work so well is that they help you look different to your competitors and raise you up to a new playing field.

I firmly believe that most competitors sell a very similar product, but not all competitors have the same values. Concentrate on what makes you different from the crowd and create your brand message and strapline around that.

  1. Show your Worth

A strapline helps convince your audience that you are worth their time, money and energy.

How do you get them to think that? Like most things in life, start with the basics. When you are setting up your brand or refreshing your image, you need to have a serious think about your core principles before you decide on a strapline.

When I say core principles, I mean the basic values that define your company. Defining your core values is also about what you and your target audience finds important. You core values should create a bridge between your goals and their expectations – – whether that’s ethics, speed, simplicity, or family values.

Once you’ve thought of them, a good trick is to imagine if someone took those 3 or 4 values away, would you still be the same company? No? then those 3 magic words are your building blocks to branding glory.

Next step is your strapline, which should have 1-2 of your core principles worked into the content, and the best straplines do this without even saying those exact keywords.

The road to Tipperary

Even if you’ve never done any sort of branding before, you know your company more than anyone else, so spend some time thinking about who you are and what makes you unique. Then start using our 5 top strapline tips as the first stepping stones to a great brand story and a star-studded strapline.

PSST! Did you know that we have our very own copywriter? If you want to rework your website and freshen up your content, give us a ring or pop into Ziferblat Edge Street, Manchester – where we’ll be more than happy to have a chat about your website project and how we can help over some Zifercake