Design & Creativity
April 15, 2024
3 minute read

Do taglines still matter?

Migi Santico
Photos by
Illustrations by

In the halls of marketing history, taglines stand tall as the quintessential catchphrases that etch themselves into the collective consciousness. From Nike's empowering "Just Do It" to Coca-Cola's uplifting "Open Happiness," these succinct expressions wielded immense power in shaping consumer perceptions and propelling brands to towering heights of success. But these examples, along with some of the most powerful taglines, were written in a time starkly different from today.

The heyday of taglines coincided with the zenith of consumer America—a time when purchasing power surged, and advertising permeated every facet of daily life. Billboards loomed large over cityscapes, newspapers overflowed with colorful ads, commercials interrupted television programs, and radio airwaves crackled with persuasive messages. Taglines emerged as more than mere slogans; they became corporate art, blending psychology, poetry, and even whimsy to captivate audiences and carve out enduring brand identities. The question is, does this art still have a place in today’s world? What does it mean for brands today and how does it impact consumers?

While some of the world's most iconic brands still enjoy the power of their taglines, a new wave of innovators is rewriting the rules of engagement. Companies like Patagonia have eschewed traditional taglines in favor of bold declarations of purpose, proclaiming, "We're in business to save our home planet." 

Enter the era of brand ethos—a paradigm shift that places social responsibility and humanitarian values at the forefront of brand messaging. Today's consumers demand more than products or services; they seek connection, alignment, and meaning. Brands that embrace sustainability, corporate responsibility, and ethical practices not only resonate with consumers but also earn their loyalty and advocacy.

In other words, it might be said that consumers are growing weary of being sold to. Ad blockers proliferate, premium subscriptions offer respite from intrusive ads, and skepticism toward traditional marketing tactics runs high. In this climate, brands must tread carefully, for mere sales pitches no longer suffice. Instead, consumers seek authenticity, transparency, and above all, purpose.

Moreover, the humanization of brands has become paramount. In an age where faceless corporations are met with skepticism, companies must strive to cultivate a personality, a voice, and above all, a soul. Authenticity reigns supreme, and brands that dare to show vulnerability, empathy, and humanity forge deeper connections with their audience.

Indeed, brand messaging has evolved far beyond the confines of mere slogans, embracing a broader spectrum of storytelling through various mediums. From visually stunning advertisements to immersive digital experiences, brands now have a plethora of tools at their disposal to engage, entertain, and inspire their audience. Social media platforms, in particular, have emerged as fertile ground for brands to craft narratives that resonate with consumers on a personal level, blurring the lines between marketing and genuine human interaction.

In this ever-evolving landscape, creatives play a pivotal role as architects of brand identity and guardians of authenticity. Crafting compelling narratives that resonate with audiences on a visceral level requires more than clever wordplay or catchy slogans—it demands a deep understanding of human psychology, cultural nuances, and societal values.

Yet, amidst this proliferation of storytelling techniques, the enduring relevance of taglines and other points of brand messaging cannot be overstated. While the form may have evolved, the essence remains the same: distilling the brand's essence into a memorable, resonant message that captures the imagination and leaves a lasting impression. Whether it's a pithy tagline, a poignant manifesto, or a whimsical brand voice, the choice of messaging depends on the brand's objectives, target audience, and the specific nuances of each client brief.

As brands navigate this brave new world, they must heed the lessons of history while embracing the imperatives of the present. Taglines, once the cornerstone of brand messaging, now share the spotlight with broader declarations of ethos and purpose. In the relentless pursuit of relevance, creatives must remain agile, adaptive, and attuned to the shifting currents of consumer sentiment.

The corporate art of taglines, with its blend of psychology, poetry, and even whimsy, remains a potent force in the arsenal of brand communication.  The evolution of brand messaging—from taglines to ethos—mirrors the evolving tapestry of human desires, values, and aspirations. In an age defined by connectivity, authenticity, and purpose, brands that dare to lead with conviction, compassion, and conscience will not only survive but thrive in the hearts and minds of consumers. As creatives, let us embrace this challenge with humility, creativity, and a steadfast commitment to shaping a better, more meaningful world, one brand message at a time.