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The Luxury Value of Taglines

Wayne McMaster

19 July 2013

It's not a descriptor

Lets first start with what a tagline is not: A tagline is not a descriptor and there are plenty of those:

  1. Plain English: The high-end benchmark that many aspiring kitchen companies covet, always innovative in product and marketing, consistent in their tone-of-voice, with a double entendre company name, that gives way to a very fitting descriptor "Cupboadmaker". They use a very understated description, that fits well with what they stand for, that allows for plenty of room for interpretation around the house—not just cupboards for kitchens.
  2. Martin Moore & Co: Descriptor of the brand: "Classic English Furniture"
  3. Speke Klein: Parnham college trained Canadian furniture manufacturers that have a 'straightforward functionalism' with 'understated elegance', befitting a descriptor of their brand: 'Contemporary Solid Wood Furniture for your Home'
  4. Simon Thomas Pirie: An accomplished furniture maker team in Dorset, designing contemporary forms and classic elegance, has a well balanced descriptor of equal length to their name: 'Beautiful Contemporary Furniture'

Descriptors tend to be used when the company name gives no information as to the product or service, usually due to being the founders name.

Why, not What. Belief, not Fact.

Descriptors talk about the 'WHAT', whereas taglines talk about the 'HOW' or more importantly the 'WHY'. A tagline should be a small set of words that express, encapsulate, articulate or otherwise allude to a brand’s difference and essence. Without a tagline you don't have a 'hook', and 'brand hooks' are useful for your customers to hold on to.  At this point it becomes more that the short-hand for summing up the difference your interior or lifestyle brand promises to be, it satisfies a deeply held human desire to wrap things up, with a twist. As we move to more subtle advertising and less 'sell' the tagline remains the small spotlight, highlighting your brand's core belief. A great tagline can be a luxury or premium brand's greatest marketing asset as those below show what is possible:

Taglines of luxury brands

  1. Canburg, home of the world's finest design and furniture companies, including Smallbone of Devizes, who lead the field at the luxury-end of kitchen companies. Tagline: "The style against which all others are measured."  
  2. Mark Wilkinson Furniture: Tagline of the brand, uniquely comes before the company name: "Unmistakably Mark Wilkinson"
  3. DeBeers: Part of the the LMVH family since 2001. Before which for over a century, set, anonymously, into the creations of master jewellers around the world. Tagline of the brand: "A diamond is forever"
  4. Cartier: Founded in Paris, Cartier is very well known for its exquisite jewelry and wrist watches. Apart from having a long history of selling its watches to royalty and celebrities, the company’s collections include leather goods and accessories. Tagline: "The art of being unique"
  5. Vi-Spring: British manufacturer of Natural Luxury Beds. They talk of there being 'no bed like a Vi-Spring bed', which is why they promise  life-changing comfort with their handcrafted pocket spring mattresses and divans.Tagline: "Life-Changing"
  6. Chanel is the French house of high fashion that specializes in haute couture and ready-to-wear clothes, luxury goods, and fashion accessories. Historically, the House of Chanel is most famous for the stylistically versatile “little black dress”, the perfume No. 5 de Chanel and the Chanel Suit. Chanel No. 5 is the first perfume launched by Parisian couturier Gabrielle "Coco" Chanel with its tagline of Chanel No. 5 is : “Inevitable”
  7. Bottega Veneta is an Italian luxury goods house best known for its leather goods, based in Vicenza, in the Veneto region of northeast Italy. All products are handcrafted in Italy. The famous motto states “When your own initials are enough”
  8. Stuart Scott Associates leads the way in contemporary furniture, driven by furniture designer Stuart Scott they combine quality, style and a lifelong passion for design. Tagline: "The Finest Tailored Furniture"

What makes a great tagline?

Memorability

A great tagline has to be memorable. If it resonates with the Essence of the brand or its Big Idea it will be more memorable. In addition to a provocative and relevant illustration or story, Alliteration (Jaguar: "Don't dream it. Drive it."), Coined or Made-up words (Louis Vuitton: "Epileather"), Puns, and Rhymes are good ways of making a line memorable.

Benefit-driven

A great tagline should highlight a key emotional benefit, or promise that can be delivered.

Differentiated

A great tagline should highlight and set apart a characteristic of the brand that sets it apart from the competitors, that it can own and not be copied. If that can be distilled down to the Essence itself, even more powerful, however it can be hard to find that single word.

As Jim Rowbotham points out, “Creation of persuasive, pointed taglines is largely virgin territory within marketing communications.”. So to coin another well-used tagline we need to: "Just do it".

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