Last year I finally got the tattoo I had been waiting for. Three years of screenshotting photos had come to a head and it was time to hand over my digital folder to someone who could handle the beast I had created inside my phone. But I couldn’t just trust anyone with this responsibility.
After scouring every Instagram account and internet review, I was struck by a man called The Butcher—an ideal name for someone who would be stabbing me with microscopic needles for six hours. His Instagram bio captured me immediately, “permanent tattoos for temporary people.” Powerful tagline, right? I had to read it to myself three times just to absorb every bit of it’s meaning.
He had me. I wasn’t taking my business anywhere else. I called up the shop that day and put my name on his 8-month waiting list. After 6 hours in a chair and copious amounts of bathroom breaks, I walked away with this.
It was something completely different than I had imagined and it was exclusive to my arm. One could call it my visual tagline.
As I think more about taglines, slogans, or whatever business jargon you prefer, they’re a lot like tattoos. A tattoo is one of the first things someone sees—if it’s visible. And it’s most definitely the thing everyone remembers. And, no matter how much time passes, your tagline will always be part of you—like it’s inked into your brand’s skin. Once you create it, you have to own it and live up to it.
Taglines are the ultimate catalyst for conveying your brand to the world—if a picture is worth a thousand words, your tagline is two thousand.
That being said, crafting a tattoo-worthy tagline is pretty damn hard, but not impossible. Lucky for you, I’ve compiled a list of 20 taglines that will fire up your creative juices.
There are 20 on this list, but millions of taglines have propelled business moguls and entrepreneurial hustlers. For your time’s sake and mine, I’m going to dissect 5 taglines I think will change the way you handle your next branding session.
5 company taglines for inspiration and ideas.
Nike – “Just Do It.”
Dan Weiden didn’t know what he had his hands on when he wrote down the three-word line that would cement a brand in history. You might think that it was conjured up in a brainstorming session about elite athletes, but you’d be mistaken. Weiden was struck with inspiration after reading about convicted murderer Gary Gilmore, who said, “let’s do it!” while he awaited the firing squad. In an attempt to unite all the campaigns Nike was running in the ’80s, Weiden flocked to this statement and it stuck with audiences immediately.
California Milk Processing Board – “Got Milk?”
This was the holy grail of marketing campaigns in the ’90s. Virtually every celebrity could be seen in a classic Got Milk commercial flexing a white liquid mustache. What started as a need to sell more milk, spiraled into an iconic series, with 91% of adults saying they recognized the campaign. Got Milk revitalized a household necessity with a simple question and nothing more, showing us that some of the best taglines make you think.
Redbull – “Red Bull gives you wings.”
A sign of a great tagline is when someone believes you—so much so that they consider throwing themselves from a second-story window. Red Bull knew they were cooking with fire when they were taken to court in 2013 after multiple consumers said they never experienced any flying or improved athletic capabilities. This tagline, which has been used by the brand for over a decade, is marketing gold and proved to be a game-changer for the Red Bull brand. If you’re going to take this approach, stick to something less deadly I’d say.
Dollar Shave Club – “Shave Time. Shave Money.”
Sometimes great taglines come in the form of humor and Dollar Shave Club does it best. I see you Dollar Shave, with your catchy commercials, witty sense of humor, and wicked pun game. Not only is it witty, but it’s also accurate and clear—save time, save money. Who doesn’t like the sound of that?
Rice Krispies – “Snap! Crackle! Pop!”
Speaking of great sounds, there’s nothing better than a little onomatopoeia in a tagline. We both know every man, woman, and child remembers the Rice Krispie slogan that has echoed in TV sets and radios for over 80 years. This melodic line was sung by children pouring their breakfast cereal and slathered across all their branding, even naming their characters after the three words. What can we learn from this rice cereal? Be different—how many other cereals use a rhetorical effect in their tagline?
15 other company taglines chock full of inspiration.
- Disney – “The happiest place on earth”
- Apple – “Think Different”
- Smucker’s – “With a name like Smucker’s, it has to be good.”
- FedEx – “When it absolutely, positively has to be there overnight.
- Mcdonald’s – “I’m lovin’ it”
- Ford – “Go Further”
- Wheaties – “The breakfast of champions”
- Jimmy Butcher – “Permanent tattoos, for temporary people.”
- General Electric – “Imagination at work.”
- Capital One – “What’s in your wallet?”
- M&Ms – “Melts in your mouth, not in your hands.”
- Texas State Department of Transportation – “You don’t mess with Texas.”
- Titleist – “The number one ball in golf.”
- Xians Famous Foods – “We do not franchise.”
- Notre Dame Football – “Play like a champion today.”
There are many, many, many other great taglines worth mentioning (Is It In You?, Think Small, We Try Harder, etc…). This is just a small list of our favorites. Grab our email newsletter or read this post if you’d like to learn how to write one for yourself.Jake Hackman