This article is written by Bill Baker, Chief Strategist at Total Destination Marketing, author, speaker, and blogger at “Small City Branding around the world”.

Rarely a week goes by when we don’t see another round of city and destination slogans and taglines announced. Some are pretty good, many are plain lame, insipid and self-congratulatory, and some are just downright infuriating.

A tagline is a word or short phrase that captures the spirit of the brand promise and its essence. It can be a tease, a short descriptor, a call to action or an explanation, and succinctly stated in no more than five words.  Too many destination taglines are simply examples of marketing speak or clichés that do nothing to advance the identity of the place. Many end up with a tagline that is so esoteric that it needs extensive (and expensive) marketing communications to convey its meaning. Few small cities have the marketing budgets to communicate the meaning and relevance of their taglines through advertising.

All tagline options should be tested before they are approved by gauging the reactions of target audiences through research. However, prior to undertaking that research the following filters may be helpful as you initially assess the various options:

  • It captures and dramatizes the brand promise
  • It’s ownable and not the same or similar to other places
  • It hints at a reward, benefit or experience that customers value and can expect
  • It’s short, usually less than five words
  • It works with, and enhances, the logo
  • It’s credible, sustainable and matches the reality of the place
  • It’s easy to remember
  • It does not have negative connotations

In a nutshell, a tagline (and logo) should act as a trigger or cue to aid recall of the positive associations that the place is known for. Too frequently, the power and role of a tagline is
over-emphasized, i.e. no one will respond positively to a tagline and then decide to visit a place if they haven’t also been exposed to other compelling stimuli about the place. Let’s hope that in 2013 we see a lot less of the insipid and self-congratulatory efforts and more well-researched and meaningful taglines.

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Posted by Jordi Pera

Jordi Pera is an economist passionate about tourism, strategy, marketing, sustainability, business modelling and open innovation. He has international experience in marketing, intelligence research, strategy planning, business model innovation and lecturing, having developed most of his career in the tourism industry. Jordi is keen on tackling innovation and strategy challenges that require imagination, entail thoughtful analysis and are to be solved with creative solutions.

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