A brand position is not a tagline

by Tony Fannin, President, BE Branded  |

In my experience in working with small to medium sized businesses, I’ve come across a common misunderstanding. Many of these businesses think brand and tagline are the same. At first glance, I can understand why they believe that. Think “Just Do It” from Nike. The public knows the tagline because that’s what drives the marketing campaign. They also know the brand, but can’t really tell you, word for word, what it is. Here is the difference between a tagline and a brand position:

Tagline – They are the drivers of marketing campaigns. It is drilled into customers minds through all marketing and media channels, both on line and offline. These are the phrases, visuals, or even characters that we all immediately identify the brand with. When I say “Can you hear me now?”, what comes to mind? Most will think Verizon. The reason why Verizon “owns” this phrase is because they saturated the market place with TV commercials, print ads, web ads, etc. with this marketing campaign. Taglines have these qualities:

• Directly linked to marketing campaigns
• They can be changed based on the marketing objective
• They are tied specifically to defined results
• They are based on what the brand  stands for

Brand position – This is the core of why you exist in the first place (beyond making money). It’s what you emotionally deliver to your customers. Brands are meant to last over decades and have deeper meaning. It’s why people are willing to stand in line for days to buy your stuff or why talent would kill just to join your company. While taglines try to gain space in your mind, brands try to win over your heart.

• It is soul deep, not about marketing
• It’s the foundation of your culture
• Not typically used in print or marketing, but can be on rare occasions
• It’s the emotional value you deliver to your customers

Examples of brand positions that you won’t see in marketing campaigns:
• Starbucks – Daily inspiration
• Disney – Make people happy
• Apple – Cool innovation
• Google – Organize the world’s information with one click (unofficial brand promise: don’t do evil)

Keep in mind, brand positions are not about bravado or chest-beating. It’s about delivering something of value to the world and your customers. Marketing can be bold and forward if need be. When you are able to align your marketing campaigns and taglines with your core brand, that’s when you can create magic in the marketplace. Most great brand ideas are simple, but the execution and implementation is complex.

By the way, Nike’s brand is “Authentic athletic performance”


About Be Branded

Tony Fannin is of President of BE Branded, an integrated marketing firm who helps clients BE Somebody to their customers. If you aren't somebody, then you are commodity.

3 Responses to “A brand position is not a tagline”

  1. I’ve been in marketing and PR for close to 30 years and have run across this situation repeatedly. This is the best article I have read in all that time that succinctly and accurately spells it out.Thanks for posting this. I don’t impress easily but I am truly impressed. I’m bookmarking your blog and will keep you in mind for biz when I need branding.

    • Kathy, thank you for taking time to read my blog and your kind words. Coming from another professional, your opinion carries much weight with me. Your company seems like they are on the leading edge of security technology. I imagine it’s a constant battle in keeping one step ahead. I hope you continue to find value in our blog. Best Wishes, Tony


  1. TWO | HEADED | FROG - July 25, 2011

    […] A brand position is not a tagline […]

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