Taglines vs. Propositions

by Bob Nunn April 21st, 2011 

As a marketer who started brand-building with traditional media and now does it with online media such as search and social, I get asked questions that straddle both worlds. One of the most common, whether its for a website or traditional offline media, is:

Whats our tagline?

But are taglines really important anymore or have they been replaced by propositions?

Once upon a time in a world dominated by interruption media " such as television, radio and billboard etc. " ads followed a set formula:

Act I: Tease the viewer into paying attention by saying something mysterious and compelling Bo dont know baseball

Act II: Reveal your product story Bo wears Nikes to cross-train

Act III: Close with a tagline that summarize your big idea Just Do It


And you had 30 seconds.

But time has moved on. Interruptive media still works but, in a world fragmented with choice and where the consumer has more control over what they watch, it is less powerful in creating effective marketing particularly for those who cant afford the rising rates. Consider that one of the most watched tv shows of the last 10 years " the Friends finale " would have only ranked 40th in an average year 20 years earlier.

Today relevance rules. If you want to get your email opened

your site found

your ad clicked on

your Facebook post liked,

you need to work hard to be super-clear with how your product helps the viewer " not vague.


I dont mean to suggest that being compelling isnt important. In fact, insight into the hearts and minds of consumers is still the magic bullet for effective marketing and long-term brand-building. And modern tools like keyword research and social media monitoring can help you mine those nuggets of wisdom. Its just that today when the consumer increasingly lives in a media world over which they are king, you cant dance the dance of the seven veils.

Or, as a friend says, if youve got free beer, say free beer.

Bob Nunn

Bob Nunn is an Internet Marketing Consultant in Toronto and the founder of BrandMechanics. Bob has a successful track record of helping companies fine-tune their online marketing and getting their brands revved up. He has won over 40 marketing awards for his work in advertising, new media, email and more for clients such as Yellow Pages Group ‘The Find Engine’, Blockbuster ‘Guaranteed To Be There’, FutureShop ‘You’ll like what the future has in store.’ and 3M ‘Innovation’ among others.

Brand Mechanics

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2 Responses to “Taglines vs. Propositions”

  1. Karoline says:

    Well, taglines give you identity. With regard to propositions, being straight to the point also works especially now that people are into 140-character messages/texts.

    • Bob Nunn says:

      Hear hear Karoline. I perhaps foolishly believe you can do both. The 'Guaranteed To Be There' we did for Blockbuster did that.

      I got so into this subject wrote a follow-up post on my own blog. It provides a quick test and how to get on with building a stronger prop.

      Here it is: http://bit.ly/tagorprop