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B2B taglines. Do you need one?

Ray Baird

The other day, a client asked me a great question: what is the purpose of a tagline, and what trends or commonalities do we see in the B2B world?

We have developed many of what we call Brand Lines (similar to a tagline) for clients, but I was curious, too, so I conducted my own quick search of 20 of the most well-known B2B brands. 

The findings are interesting.

Brands using taglines:

3M  Science. Applied to Life.
Accenture  High performance. Delivered.
Canon  See Impossible
GE  Imagination at work
Siemens  Ingenuity for life

Brands with no tagline:

Adobe
Amazon
American Express
Apple
Cisco
CITI
Google
Hewlett Packard Enterprise
IBM
Intel
Microsoft
Oracle
SAP
Sony
UPS

Curiously enough, only five actually use a tagline with their logo. And of the five, only a few meet our criteria on what constitutes a tagline.

We prefer to describe these brand communication devices as “Brand Lines.”

GE’s “Imagination at work” is a classic. It’s timeless, concise and reflect GE’s inventive business philosophy since the days of founder Thomas Edison.

GE’s is the best representation of the five, and here’s why.

Brand lines should not only reflect distinction, but also evoke emotional connection both internally and externally. As a best practice, they should connect to the company’s broader purpose or vision. Jeff Immelt, the former CEO of GE, said “Imagination at work” is not just a tagline or slogan but a reason for being.

Creating the perfect brand line is no easy task---that’s why many of these top brands opt out of committing to one, or they use campaign slogans that change over time. Some have suggested that hashtags and headlines have replaced taglines.

Brand lines should stand the test of time. It may be appropriate to change it if there is a significant shift from the core business idea or internal DNA.  

John Deere’s “Nothing Runs Like a Deere” is a perfect example of a tagline that has stood the test of time, the company’s commitment to excellence.

So, what’s your point of view? Do you need a brand line? 

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