The Best Taglines on the Market (and How to Write Your Own)

A bird's eye view of the KFC packaging with the tagline (it's finger lickin' good) partly visible.

A great tagline is your company’s calling card, welcome mat, and royal banner. Right after the business plan and business name, finding a quality tagline is one of the biggest choices any company makes.

But how do you go about writing the best tagline for your business? Here are some secrets from the Wordsmithie team.

What are taglines? What makes a good tagline?

 A good tagline is a short, punchy phrase that does two things. It:

  • Describes your business in a few words
  • Shows the customer why they should care. Before the customer can ask “What’s in it for me?” your tagline will already have told them.

A quality tagline shows why you’re different. Are you one of 12 burger joints in your town? What makes you worth passing up the other 11 to get to? It could be your food (“We are the cheesiest.”) It could be your service (“Three smiles with every burger”). It could be your family-owned history, or whatever makes you you.

Whatever you choose, keep it short. The best taglines are five words or less. A great tagline has to be catchy, but it also has to fit on your ads, website, and social feeds.

(It helps to keep the words short, too.)

Examples: Some of the best taglines on the market

A few years ago, the analytics company Upwave asked Americans to name famous brands based only on their marketing slogans. These were the five most memorable taglines; see if you can name the brands.

  • Finger lickin’ good  
  • Every kiss begins with ___. 
  • 15 minutes could save you 15% or more  
  • Just do it  
  • Snap, Crackle, Pop

Did you get them? They are: 1) KFC 2) Kay Jewelers 3) Geico 4) Nike, and 5) Rice Krispies

87.9% of those surveyed could identify KFC just by the tagline Finger lickin’ good. The slogan is so famous that during the Covid pandemic, KFC blurred out finger lickin’ on its billboards, knowing that most everyone would get the joke.

Other great taglines in Upwave’s top 20 included:

  • Taste the rainbow – Skittles
  • It gives you wings – Red Bull
  • The happiest place on earth – Disney

What do all these top-quality taglines have in common? They tell you about the product and they show why you’ll care. 

Each is loaded with emotion: tasty flavors, romance, happiness. The shortest, Just do it, taps into everyone’s pride and anguish around getting fit. The longest, used by Geico for decades, is the least emotional — yet it works because it says what they’re about (quick, easy) and why it will delight you (save money!).

How to write your own great tagline

Writing a great tagline is like building a skyscraper: before you can build up, you have to drill down to bedrock. You have to know:

  • What makes your business unique?  How are you different from anyone else?
  • Who is your target customer? What do they need and want?

Once you get to that bedrock knowledge, you can ask the key question:

  • What is the emotional link between your target customer and your unique traits?

If you sell candy, your unique trait could be lots of things: chewiness, wild colors like Skittles, exquisite Guatemalan chocolate.

If you sell accounting software, your traits are less fun but can still be emotional. Maybe you save hours a day. Maybe you wipe away the tears of tax time. Maybe you crunch the numbers so they don’t crunch you. Find what fits.

How can you know if your tagline works?

Just ask! After you brainstorm your tag lines, show the best ones around to coworkers and listen to what they say. You may love your great tagline idea, but if it doesn’t work for them, they will tell you. 

Keep looking: it may take hundreds of tries before you hit your best tagline. When a tagline delights them, they’ll tell you that, too. 

The next step is to A/B test your great taglines. Let’s say you’ve got two or three taglines that you like. You can try them in landing pages, online ads, or even email to find out which one catches the eyes and hearts of your customers. The online world makes A/B testing so much easier than it was a generation ago. Use it!

Go get ‘em!

To write the best taglines, start with your best input: Know your business, know your customers, and find that emotional spot where they meet.

Then keep trying until you find just the right message. Make it emotional, but keep it short. And have fun!

ABOUT Fritz Holznagel

Fritz Holznagel is a veteran writer who likes to turn high-tech talk into clear, friendly words. He has written for Google, full-time and as a vendor, since 2004, as well as for clients like Ensono, Eventbrite, Kronos, GiveDirectly, and Intuit. Fritz’s special joy is rewriting to get rid of big words and jargon, and he leads corporate workshops on the topic. In a past life, Fritz won the 1995 Jeopardy! Tournament of Champions, represented the USA in the 1996 Jeopardy! Olympic Tournament, and won an Emmy for scripting the CBS special A Claymation Easter Celebration.