Tag(line)! You’re It!
To help make this case using the examples I cited at the beginning of this article, Wheaties has been using its tagline since 1935, American Express has used its since 1975, and Nike began using its tagline in 1988.
To ‘ing’ or not to ‘ing’
I recently was asked to make a presentation at a Direct Marketing Association meeting on the topic of branding and writing copy for multiple communications channels, which included much of the tagline discussion in this article.
During the Q-and-A segment, someone in the audience mentioned a book she had read about branding where the author stated that you should never, ever use words in your taglines that end with “ing.” And she wanted to know my thoughts.
I hadn’t heard this particular “rule” before. And I’ve been around for a while, having spent 20 of the last 26 years working for advertising agencies as a writer for such clients as Polaroid, Red Lobster, General Electric and Ducati Motorcycles, before beginning to work for agencies that serve the nonprofit sector several years ago.
At that point, someone else in the audience, a creative director, said that she also tells her writers to find other words for taglines when they present her with those ending with “ing.”
I personally think it depends on the word. I wrote a tagline for a client a while ago that read, “Help. Hope. Healing.” I just don’t think “Heal” works as well in this case. In the examples I gave earlier for the fictitious homeless shelter, one of the taglines I proposed has two words ending with “ing” — “renewing” and “restoring.” I believe these words also lose impact if you remove the “ing.” The words “renew” and “restore” in this case seem flat and less active.