Brand Identity Is More Than Copy Can Convey

John Moore of Brand Autopsy penned a piece for Brandweek about the needlessness of taglines.
Here’s a segment:

The formula for advertising is a lot like stand-up comedy. A brand’s advertising consists of a setup and then closes with a tag line. Doesn’t matter if it’s print, OOH, TV, whatever … most advertising has a setup that leads to a tagline, which is designed to coax a Pavlovian sale from a customer.
What if there were no taglines in advertising? What if we didn’t feel the need to sum up all of a brand’s reason for existing in a soundbite? What if we allowed the customer to decide whether they wanted to choose the brand (or not) without the heavy-handed brand messaging? What if brands were to do advertising without taglines?

Moore concludes that taglines are a weak device for motivating one to purchase. He favors “interesting customer experiences.” I have no argument there. But it’s not an either or world. Strong copy statements like “Just Do It” help create brand identity and work with the brand experience at retail or an event. Of course, there are very few brands with a tagline that captures the brand essence like Nike’s.

About David Burn

Co-founder and editor of AdPulp. I wrote my first ad for a political candidate when I was 17 years old. She won her race and I felt the seductive power of advertising for the first time. I worked for seven agencies in five states before launching my own practice in 2009. Today, I am head of brand strategy and creative at Bonehook in Portland, Oregon.


  1. There’s always exceptions to the rule, eh?
    And let me just add here that the WORST taglines start with “Because…” I mean, come on – “Because?” You gotta be kidding me.

  2. Yeah, definitely not an either or thing, especially now where so many visual ads/spots seem to almost have a tag that serves double duty as the headline as well.