B2B Taglines: The Hardest Working Words in Branding

Your tagline needs to do some heavy lifting. Make sure it’s up to the challenge.
illustration of hand holding pencil

A thoughtfully developed tagline can be a concise expression of a brand, an effective way to quickly communicate its unique value proposition. Too often, though, B2B taglines are formulaic and predictable.

Case in point: Shopify created an online tool called the “Free Slogan Maker.” It asks you to “simply enter a term that describes your business, and get up to 1000 slogans for free.” This widget is meant be light-hearted — for example, a test run with the term “Trust” produced “Innovation. Melts in Your Mouth Not In Your Hand.” But it’s disturbing that many of the algorithmically-created lines were quite plausible, and ready-made for corporate deployment:

  • Trust empowers you.
  • Go. Trust.
  • Say it with trust.
  • Trust for a better future.

The widget’s ability to convincingly generate B2B taglines demonstrates the dangers of developing a tagline based in table stakes, not brand differentiation. “Table stakes” are what we called elements that are expected— size, strength, reliability, profitability. They’re the must-haves — “jacks for openers,” to extend the poker metaphor. You need them just to be in the game, but they don’t ensure a winning hand.

Instead of emphasizing table stakes, effective B2B taglines must be inspired by a brand’s essence, encompassing what sets it apart in the market. Unless a tagline successfully communicates the brand’s true differentiators in a way that is meaningful to clients and prospects, it’s not worth having one. It’s no easy task developing a brand-inspired tagline. That handful of words must reflect a fully-fledged brand idea, and requires research, analysis, and strategic thinking.

So what are some examples of successful B2B taglines?

“Lathrop Gage. See beyond.”

Lathrop Gage, a Kansas City-based law firm, built its brand around “Seeing beyond”— beyond purely legal and regulatory constraints … beyond siloed practices … beyond conventional approaches. “See Beyond,” the brand’s essence, became the firm’s tagline and positions the firm as a proactive contributor to a client’s success, trusted advisors who are consulted before a legal issue arises because of their unique perspective on how the law can be a catalyst for growth.

“Beyond” storytelling has become infused into the firm’s culture. Internal meetings begin with attorneys and staff informally presenting case studies that illustrate how they went beyond. Today, the firm looks to the brandline as a north star, helping to define the firm’s purpose and value and establishing brand cohesion across every brand expression.

“Imagination at work”

Like Lathrop Gage, GE uses its brand essence as its tagline, opting to emphasize what makes it different rather than what gives it license to operate. Now in its sixteenth year of use, “Imagination at work” captures the spirit that unites GE’s diverse lines of business. Importantly, it also communicates how GE not only generates amazing ideas, but also executes them. To get to this line, GE conducted extensive research and engaged leadership and employees from engineering, marketing, and design. The result? A compelling line with staying power.

We like both of these B2B taglines because they succinctly and memorably communicate each brand’s key differentiator. They work hard to capture important ideas in just a few words. Both were the outcome of robust, collaborative brand projects. And neither sounds like it was generated by an algorithm.

To learn more about creating the right tagline, contact us.


Hannah Foltz

About the author
Hannah Foltz is a Senior Strategist at DeSantis Breindel. When she isn’t stuck on the L train, she is diving into research and helping develop positioning and messaging platforms for B2B companies.

 

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