Famous brands have famous straplines.

  • Just do it.
  • Think different.
  • Every little helps.
  • It’s the real thing.
  • The ultimate driving machine.
  • Does exactly what it says on the tin.
  • Vorsprung Durch Technik.
  • Made to make your mouth water.
  • Gives you Wings.
  • Have a Break.
  • Probably The Best Larger In The World.
  • Never knowingly undersold.
  • Because you’re worth it.
  • Looks like yesterday – sounds like tomorrow*.

I bet you can name most of the brands that these great straplines describe (*I’ll forgive you the last one – it’s for the Fender Stratocaster Guitar!)

Wouldn’t it be great to have a strapline for your business that makes you instantly recognisable?

Drive member and brand expert Andy Boothman, (who created the Drive branding), hosted a live Q&A to help Drive members create our own memorable tags.
This is a compilation of the live Ask the Expert hour.

What’s the point of a strapline?

Q. Does a company really need a strap line?

Andy Boothman That depends on the company, what you do and how clearly that ‘doing’ is understood by your audience/customers. It’s really more about the development and growth of a business. If you want to grow, you’ll need more customers and/or more products, creating a positioning line gives you stand out or point of difference from your competitors. It reinforces what you have to offer.

Q. I think that thinking about a strapline is a good way of encapsulating for yourself as well as for others exactly what it is that your company aims to do. And that’s a really good thing!

Andy Boothman It really is. Depending upon the type of business and the type of customers you have and want more of, having something short that describes quickly and clearly what you deliver will make a real difference to the business on lots of levels.

Q.  Do you think that strap lines are becoming less effective in marketing?

Andy Boothman No I don’t. There are many sayings that are used in everyday language that originated as strap lines. Our exposure is different these days as TV has lost it’s dominance, but strap lines remain an important part of any brand communication, they are used on every piece of comms. Some strap lines have an aural signature too – Intel for example.

How do you create a great strapline?

Q. What broad approach works best for straplines; transformations made, opportunities taken or pains removed?

Andy Boothman The most important thing is to ensure that the people outside of your business understand quickly what it is that you do. And if possible what makes you different from the competition. Spending time looking at who your best customers are and what their honest view of the value you add is will bring clarity and focus to the challenge of your strap line.

Q. So perhaps asking customers, in their own words, “how are you different now as a result of working with me?” might help to generate some key words and phrases to work with?

Andy Boothman It will certainly help you to realise what the external perception is, where customers see you adding value and that will help focus the thinking around your strap line. It’s hard when you’re doing this yourself as you are very close to the business and your understanding of what you deliver is often too close to be clear and concise.

Q.  How does a strapline work with the brand name? I’m wondering how much those famous straplines affects how well the businesses perform?

Andy Boothman The ones you remember tell you a lot about the success of those businesses. We are all exposed to countless messages every single day, you only remember the ones that resonate. So it’s as much about talking to customers in the right place as it is saying the right things.

There are a number of different ways the two work together. Most often the strap line adds weight and clarity to the brand name. Strapless often humanise company names that would otherwise feel foreign or unworldly. You will notice that strap lines often change as a brand evolves. This can be down to many things, but often it is driven by competition. If a competitor starts using something similar or ‘better’ then you this galvanises action.

Andy Boothman There are subliminal messages/influence in some of these things. Personally I always look to create a positive, transparent message. Any comms will operate on a lot of levels, the secret is understanding what level to pitch at that feels right for the business/brand and it’s existing customer base.

Does it work for any product or service?

Q. I am a sculptor and I aim to make work that viewers can relate to on a personal level. I use texture and form to invite people to touch the sculpture and build their own emotional connection to the artwork. I’m struggling to find the right concise description.

Andy Boothman  Your art has a particular set of values and connects with certain people better than others. Understanding those people, their aspirations and what value they get from your work will bring clarity to the positioning piece.

Q. Can you give a good example of one that has human connection and is open to personal interpretation?

Andy Boothman One of the greatest values a strapline can bring is to add humour or other human characteristics to a brand/product. It’s often referred to as ‘a smile in mind’ that moment when you read something, then 2 seconds later you re-evaluate what you’ve just read and smile – a priceless connection.

Q. How do you deal with people who don’t like the brand/product/service and disagree with the straplines?

Andy Boothman You have to accept that you can’t please/appeal to everyone. It’s just not possible. Focus on the people that you have good connections with, make sure you understand what it is that they like about what you do and then communicate that likability out in a clear and organised way.

Avoid the cheese!

Q. How do you stop it sounding cheesy?

Andy Boothman We have touched on some of this already, but I’d strongly advocate thinking long and hard about what you have to offer your customers, talk to them about what they value from you, that way you will find a language that connects and is understood by the people who value your service the most, your existing customers. That should avoid the cheese. Also test your thoughts on other people. If they wince or squirm, it’s time to rethink.

Q. What’s your strapline for your business Andy Boothman? Do you mind sharing how you created it?

Andy Boothman My business is called “busy as A B, creating a buzz for your business”. I deliver all sorts of comms for various clients, both big and small, B2B and B2C. The common thread throughout anything that I do is the fact that people want to be seen, heard, and talked about. It’s often referred to as a buzz. Bees buzz. Busy as a bee is a common saying. My initials are A. B. I created the first version while I was at college and have refined it over the years. I wanted something that had that element of an inner smile and broad appeal.

Q. It’s a very clever name and strapline Andy! I love all of the connotations and the wordplay, link with your initials, onomatopoeia, etc.

I want a strapline!

Q. What sort of brief do you need from a client to get going? Is “I want a strapline” sufficient?

Andy Boothman That can work, but it’s often part of a much bigger project. That said there are times when I am asked to come in and get involved in the specifics of developing a new strap line. The most important thing for me is clarity. Ensuring that the business has a clear understanding of its customers, that the internal and external perception of the business are aligned and that the people I am working with are open and honest. If I’m not given the full picture, warts and all, it’s difficult to deliver the best solution.

If you’ve got any questions on business branding you can ask them in the comments below or contact Andy direct:
Twitter @AndyBoothman
Linkedin andyboothman