One liners: what does your strapline say about your business?

By HGB , Feb 21 0208
HGB’s creative director, Kylie Harcourt, shares her top tips on when and how you should use a strapline for your business.

On top of Kylie’s kitchen table you’ll find this week’s to do list, a grapefruit with a sprinkling of sugar (breakfast), and an array of house plans. She’s currently got a project on the go – designing a bach to sit on a newly purchased piece of land overlooking one of New Zealand’s most beautiful West Coast harbours. She’s keeping the exact location a secret though because this is where she plans to escape.

Tucked in among the plans, supplier brochures and other building material paraphernalia is a folder for Sentinel Homes. But it wasn’t just the glossy photos of beautifully designed homes that caught our creative director’s eye, it was the housing developer’s strapline “Let’s imagine”. Used in perfect context, with nice imagery, it was slightly detached from the company’s main logo.

Not only did it get Kylie imagining, it got her thinking. When and how should you use a strap line for your business?

A perfect partnership

Your logo can say a lot about your business, but does it tell your clients everything? That’s often the question we ask here at HGB. When we’re putting together a logo, we want to ensure it reflects our client’s company, their values and what they stand for. We also consider how it works in with our client’s strapline – and whether it needs to or not.

So what exactly is the purpose of a strapline? Think of it as your company’s elevator pitch. An effective marketing strap line should encompass all that your company does and believes in, in just a few words.

Once you’ve agreed upon your strapline, you then need to agree on how you’re going to use it, and that’s where some expertise can be useful. Kylie recommends you consider the following elements:

To attach or not to attach

The first question you need to consider is whether or not you want to attach your strapline to your main logo. As a pair, your logo and strapline can have impact, but does one take away from the other? That’s what you need to decide.

Take our client, Lightwire, for example. Their strapline, Your Connection, certainly has impact, but their logo works well on its own. This means they can choose when to use one or both but don’t need to use them together all the time. Go to their website and you’ll see just their logo; pick up marketing collateral and you’ll see both.


HGB blog Lightwire strapline

Put it in context

Where should your strapline be used so it is most effective? The answer – in context. A strapline shouldn’t sit on its own, but instead be supported with appropriate imagery and surrounds.

Another client of ours, The Great War Exhibition, didn’t have a strapline, until we rebranded for them. Now that strapline, ‘So we always remember’, is an integral part of their logo. When used on its own, in donor communication for example, it’s supported with relevant imagery.

Tone of voice

When it comes to your creative, tone of voice is important. If you’re wondering why, then you need to read our blog on getting the right TOV for your creative pitch. This extends to your strapline. To determine what type of language you are going to use, you first need to decide whether you want your strap line to act as a descriptor or an enticer?

Size is everything

If you’re still trying to decide whether your strapline should sit alongside your logo, you may want to consider this. What will happen to it when your logo gets to minimum size? Chances are your strapline will disappear but that can be avoided with guidelines stating size specifications and when you can and can’t use your strapline with it.

McDonald’s is an interesting example of this. Their strapline, “I’m lovin’ it” would sit underneath the golden arches, but the brand was also strong enough that the “M” held its own, no matter what size it was.

Incidentally, McDonald’s has retired its strapline and earlier this year applied to trademark it’s now slogan, ‘The Simpler the Better’.


HGB blog Mc Ds logo

Keeping to brand

Another point to consider is how vigilant are your brand police? It’s important to remember that your strapline is a brand element, and how you use it will reflect on your brand. Another point to consider is, when does using a strap line attached to your logo become impractical?

Making an impact

This isn’t to say you need to have a strapline. Look at computer brands, Apple and IBM, or car manufacturers, Audi and Jaguar. Their logos are created without a strapline, and instead they tend to use slogans in their marketing material. How many of us remember Audi’s slogans ‘Keeping ahead through technology’ or ‘Everyone dreams of an Audi!’? Probably very few, but we can all recognise those four iconic rings.

If you do have a strapline, it’s important you use it correctly. Only then will it have impact.

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