Taglines vs. Truelines: How to Use Both In Your Branding

Marketing is always evolving. From broadcast media to social media, physical print ads to digital pay-per-click, and more to come as we enter the mobile era, marketing tools and strategies don't stand still. This is where truelines come in...

Everyone knows about taglines - also referred to as strap lines or slogans. Even if you run a small business that hasn't quite defined its tagline, the chances are you have copy on your marketing materials that would qualify. Truelines are less familiar, however, and that's why working on one can help your brand stand out from the crowd.

taglines-vs-truelinesTaglines vs. Truelines

"Just do it"

"Can you hear me now?"

"I'm lovin' it"

Taglines tend to be short. They get right to the point and stick in the memory, at least they do if they're done well! Set alongside other memorable elements of your marketing, like logos, brand colors, domain names and phone numbers, they combine to form a kind of brand shorthand. When blended thoughtfully, these are the tools that make your business unforgettable for potential customers.

The Balance offers a compelling list of 100 effective taglines, many of which you'll recall from ad campaigns over the years. What they don't do is explain the brand. That task is outside their remit, which is why some marketers are turning to truelines as an extension of the tagline.

Here are some of the key distinctions between taglines and truelines:

  • - Taglines are emotional. Truelines are exact. One appeals to the heart, the other to the head.
  • - Taglines embody multiple brand values. Truelines define the core value that separates a brand from its competitors.
  • - Taglines reach for the stars, while truelines keep a brand grounded.
  • - Taglines are fun. Truelines are factual.

Start from these core distinctions and you'll be ready to expand your tagline into a trueline that will help build your brand. memorable marketingBranding With Truelines

As we covered above, the value of a tagline is clear. It sticks in the customer's memory and frequently reminds them to consider buying from your business.

The value of adding a trueline to your brand is broader and not quite as immediate. The initial benefits are internal, aligning your marketing message with other key departments like sales and customer service. 

As your business works to meet the expectations set by your trueline, the one core aspect of your brand that you've highlighted will come to the forefront. As a counterpoint to your tagline, an effective trueline will serve to communicate an important truth about who you are and what you do. It should take the implied promise of your tagline and clearly spell it out, separating you from competitors and making that brand promise a reality.

Take the example of a local dentist.

With the simple tagline "Get a Brighter Smile," the outcome and happiness associated with it are communicated. What isn't clear is how the dentist achieves those results. In some cases, it might not even be clear that this is a dentist's slogan, rather than a dental product or some kind of cosmetic surgery.

A trueline could help connect the dots. If everyone at the dental practice works to a trueline such as "John Smith Dental is a comfortable and friendly local space dedicated to bringing out your brightest smile." It emphasizes the atmosphere and location as a key way to distinguish between other dental practices, while retaining the aspirational side of a happy, smiling outcome.

That definition will quickly feed into marketing materials, customer service, product offerings, and many other unexpected areas of the business. From the base of a memorable tagline and a clearly defined trueline, businesses of all sizes can build a brand that stands out from competitors.

951-DENTISTIntegrating Your Phone Number

As a combined brand asset and call-to-action, custom numbers are a powerful addition to accompany your tagline or link to your trueline. It's unlikely you'll ever include a full trueline in your ads because space is limited, but a phone number that incorporates a word or phrase only takes up space that you were already going to use for a standard number.

The image above is one example of how a dental practice could communicate the local aspect of its trueline, thanks to the local area code and a memorable word stating the type of business being promoted: 951-DENTIST. Some less direct but highly relevant alternatives would be 951-364-CARE and 951-800-HELP. Some excellent toll-free examples would be 1-844-MY-SMILE or 1-844-SMILE-PRO.

The end goal is to use all the brand assets at your disposal to ensure your marketing communications and ads pull in the same direction.

Custom phone numbers, domain names, taglines, jingles, logos, and even your brand colors can all be informed by your trueline. Depending on your desired outcome - calls, web leads, increased foot traffic to a physical location, etc. - you can blend these assets to the mix that most effectively reflects your brand and gets potential customers to connect.

Much like a memorable number, having a catchy tagline that can be expanded to an honest trueline is a simple step your business can take to develop a more memorable brand. Don't overlook these achievable and affordable branding steps!

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