A tagline, or the ‘organising idea’, gives the consumer a peep into what the brand actually stands for while also building a certain recall and aspiration. However, there have been others who say that it has now succumbed to the nuances of the modern tactical world.
Therefore, BestMediaInfo.com decided to dive deeper into the nitty gritty of brand building and find out as to how veracious it would be to say that the organising idea has lost its significance in the 21st century.
Ajay Gahlaut, former Group CCO, Dentsu Creative India, stated that brand taglines are ‘everything’ for advertisers when it comes to brand communication, whether they are written or not written, highlighted or not highlighted, in the public domains through the brand’s advertising.
In fact, a brand tagline is not just a mere ‘tagline’ but means much more than that as it is the strategy or the organising idea, he opined.
He also said that if the tagline is dead, the advertising and branding would be dead too, as it would resonate more with sales or other such elements.
“Taglines are the essence of advertising, it is the essence of a brand and is therefore huge! Earlier on, we used to call it a baseline which is what explains to the consumers what a brand is all about and thus establish a differentiation and pull along with positioning it in the consumer’s head,” he said.
He further stated that not writing the tagline down is a big mistake.
“A brand is not something that only exists in the ‘brand’ but in the consumer’s mind. Therefore, one needs to have a single brand idea and the tagline encapsulates that, therefore, for people to say that they don’t have significance is incorrect and misleading,” he said.
Much earlier, Gahlaut had also written a post on how baseline is everything in advertising as that is the idea on which any brand is built.
Ashish Khazanchi, Managing Partner, Enormous, also shared a similar viewpoint when he stated that the term ‘tagline’ is often ‘loosely’ used in the modern world. In fact, in his opinion, it would be much better to call it the ‘organising idea’ because tagline necessarily means that it’s a slug line at the end of the logo that goes out in all brand communications.
“What a ‘Just Do it’ does for Nike is that it gives the brand a certain viewpoint on life- it is not about winning but going out there, showing up and doing the best one can. If one actually has a look at some of the many Nike ads, they may have the line ‘Just Do It’ or the ‘Swoosh’ which are both a part of the brand’s narrative and therefore give it a certain directionality or appeal to the people who the brand is talking to which is much more important that having the tagline out there, actually published in all things brand communication,” he said.
Khazanchi, who has worked on creating taglines such as Tata Sky’s ‘Isko laga dala toh life jhinga lala’, ShopClues’ ‘Ting se leke Tong, Ding se leke Dong’, amongst others, also went on to add that while the tagline surely does help one in articulating what the brand stands for and does, there are various brands that don’t have a tagline in their commercials.
“For example, if you see any of the Tanishq ads, they don’t have a tagline, but despite that we all know that they’re all coming from a certain place and what role the brand may have in the modern mores or tradition. Another such example is Apple,” he shared.
As per Sukesh Nayak, Chief Creative Officer, Ogilvy, taglines help build the narrative and are actually the ones that sum up the idea in the most memorable manner. “In fact, if they become part of spoken lingo or come from life, then it's a jackpot,” he remarked.
“The significance of brand taglines has not gone down in the current scenario. In fact, they are all the more important in today’s day and age as they bank not only on the brand ethos but also on the ethos of life,” he said.
Highlighting that while it was taglines that were turned into jingles in the good old days, today they’ve become hashtags, he said, “The core of the idea must be summed up in the most memorable manner, which in today’s world is captured in hashtags, for example- #PalatDe is a life ethos- when the world tells you it’s not possible, you say I’ll make it happen. Therefore, in the world of social media that we live in, taglines are not just important but they better be good and be truly shareworthy!”
Ogilvy’s Nayak, who was behind Tata Sky’s ‘Poochne main kya jata hai’, Cadbury Dairy Milk’s ‘Kuchh achha ho jaaye, kuchh meetha ho jaaye’ and ‘Do Nothing’ for 5 Star, among others, added that as an advertiser, it is the job of an agency to come up with taglines that capture the essence of what the brand stands for in one’s life.
Sharing an example for the same, he said, “Thums Up’s tagline, Soft Nahi Toofan!, is a literal proposition for a product- it’s not a soft drink.”
Similarly, Abhijit Avasthi, Founder, Sideways, also stated that their importance has not gone down as a good tagline helps slot the brand clearly in the audience’s minds - alongside building strong recall- and that will always be a fundamental aspect of marketing.
“A tagline gives vocabulary to the patrons of the brand to be able to talk about it. And if a brand gets lucky enough to have a line that becomes a part of the street lingo, owing to its colloquial and endearing nature, then it is on to something that is really powerful,” he said.
He also stated that in the absence of a brand tagline, the customers can remain unclear about the brand's proposition.
“To be frank, it's not that the significance of brand taglines has diminished; it’s just that brands aren’t creating memorable ones now. And that’s where the problem lies. It takes a certain skill to write something that has the potential to become memorable and what’s critical is that it needs time, energy and efforts along with patience, to get built and enter mass consciousness. Somehow people today lack the same,” he stated.
With this, he also went on to emphasise that while taglines are all about long-term positioning or platform-level brand building and capturing the essence of what a brand is, if one is unsure about the core promise, then unfortunately not much attention would be paid to the tagline writing exercise.
“This is a little-bit more prevalent in the new-age digital products and consumer tech companies because they keep pivoting, changing business models and adding new audiences and products,” he pointed out.
Garima Khandelwal, ex-CCO, MullenLintas, also stated that in her opinion, neither are brands shying away nor are the taglines losing their relevance in the modern world. “It just needs to work harder in today’s times to straddle multiplicity of usage and exposure in different mediums to different target groups,” she said.
Moreover, she emphasised that taglines like ‘What an Idea sirji’ or ‘Jaago Re’ have become a brand property that people remember till today.
“To me, 5 Star’s ‘Do Nothing’ is such a case of consistent brand building with that single minded proposition simply told, that is so fertile and so extendable, with each piece of work adding back to the proposition. If the brands realise the power there is to creating this brand tonality using a tagline, it creates distinction for itself like nothing else can,” she said.
Additionally, Khandelwal, also added that she doesn’t think that the concept of using taglines is dead but rather far from it.
“The thing about taglines is that it has to be true and aligned with the brand ethos for it to be ownable and therefore it needs to be consistent and work over time. I don’t know where the question of revival is as it is only and only the case of realising the relevance of building on it, and staying true to it. The brand will only become bigger for staying true to the purpose and building a seamless connect with the overall brand strategy,” she stated.
In the views of Akashneel Dasgupta, Chief Creative Officer, Network Advertising, the role and significance of a brand tagline has not changed in the contemporary world, rather what has changed over the years is the way a campaign is structured.
“Nowadays it's not only about that one big annual campaign with a big idea and tagline anymore. It's about lots of small things the brand keeps doing through the year, where one tagline might not fit into everything,” he opined.
He also added that while the brand taglines are usually a catchy and easy on the tongue summation of the idea or proposition, it is designed to fit easily in our memory structures as a hook to remember the communication.
On the contrary, Agnello Dias, a.k.a Aggy, an ad guru and brand consultant, said the value of a tagline has diminished somewhat as personalised sharing of a brand’s voice using it’s communication has become a lot easier.
“Today, one can simply share the ad as easily as one used to describe it- in which case the tagline was important. It is a convenient nomenclature to describe the brand’s current voice to someone else if one has to share it or talk about it. It was the original hashtag in an analogue world,” he opined.
Aggy also shared the viewpoint that while a tagline, above all, was an identifier for a brand’s position or personality, and therefore brands have names to identify them with, a name is often not enough to describe a campaign or a personality or the current voice of the brand.
“A brand’s voice is contextual- it’s never cast in stone. And therefore, a brand’s personality can evolve, sometimes rapidly, depending on the context in which society is operating. Taglines are a brand’s current voice. Therefore, they do impact consumer sentiment. Look at the evolution of taglines in the cola category for example,” he added.
On the question of what has led people to think that brands shy away from using taglines in the contemporary world, Aggy opined that while there have been instances of taglines not resonating with the brand or in some cases they really don’t stick, so they’re as good as not having one; but very few brands eschew a tagline altogether.
“Nike drops their tagline quite often but then; they have a ubiquitous tagline so they don’t always need it. Apple is a brand that doesn’t really put too much store by a tagline, as far as I can remember. Taglines are a bonus, a last chance to stick in your consumers mind and I don’t see why their importance should diminish,” he stated.
As per Khandelwal, most of the taglines that we remember today have only been built over time, with consistent work done on it and that is precisely where the current trend of projects vs retainership comes to play, in her opinion.
“A brand cannot be built with a one-off campaign. It needs to be a long-term case of building and working on it. And that’s the difference between startups that need to create a buzz to get funding with a campaign vs a brand voice that makes room in the consumer’s mind over time,” she said.
Weighing in on the reason why brands do not tend to state out loud their taglines as much as they did in the past, Network Advertising’s Dasgupta shared that taglines don’t stick nowadays because they tend to get replaced too soon.
“Marketers, once they zero in on a line, should stick to it for some amount of time for it to register. All said and done, even a ‘Bolo Zubaan Kesari’ has stuck because they have been consistent with it over the last 5 years,” he said with a smirk.
Another reason, which in his opinion, has made certain brands not use taglines, is because they do not want to commit to a space for the long-term as there are quite a few brands that live campaign to campaign.
“Both approaches continue to coexist and work in their own ways. While there is no long-term tagline for an Amazon or a Flipkart, they always have a campaign line which is relevant to the specific objective that they are trying to solve. At the same time a Bournvita has stuck to ‘Taiyyari Jeet Ki’ and Ghadi to ‘Pehle Istemaal Karein Phir Vishwaas Karein’,” he said.
With this, he also went on to point out that in his opinion, it is also depends on the category which the brand operates in when he said, “FMCGs, Automobiles and Durables tend to stick to a tagline as these categories are not evolving that rapidly whereas retail relies on campaign lines as it’s an always evolving category.”
Moving forth, Sideways’ Avasthi, also shared the viewpoint that what has happened today is that marketers and brand builders have lost patience and therefore, they don’t want to give anything the time to register, let alone the tagline.
“In a way it is all a reflection of the times we are living in wherein most marketers are not taking a long-term view of building a brand as everybody is focussing on tactical stuff such as acquisition strategy, performance marketing, lead generation etc. The trend of marketers switching jobs and agencies every now and then doesn't help the cause either. There is no sense of ownership of the brand,” he lamented.
In fact, he candidly, also shared that a media property as huge and concentrated as the IPL which can be an amazing vehicle to ingrain a tagline into public consciousness, has now become an annual reminder of the staggering lack of imagination and courage in a large part of the marketing community.
“Hardly anybody is investing in an idea brought alive with good quality storytelling which builds brand love and memorability. It's all become a thoughtless game of signing celebrities,” he concluded.