Taglines have been an intrinsic part of advertising since the very beginning.

“Just Do It”
“Got Milk?”
“I’m Lovin’ It”
“Think Different”

These taglines are memorable and catchy. They tug at your insides and invite you to join their crusade. It’s hard to picture Nike with any other line but “Just Do It” or McDonald’s with anything besides “I’m Lovin’ It”, because they are in many ways as relevant as the company name itself. It’s a testament to the effectiveness and clarity of their messages that these taglines have spanned generations and continue to become more integrated into current consumers lives.

But does longevity of a tagline equal quality? Or were these taglines simply created in a time when they were deemed mandatory and still remain today because, over time, they have become ingrained in culture and an irreplaceable part of their brands?

It would be hard for the average consumer today to name a tagline created by a major company, or any company for that matter, in the last 10 years. So while it’s undeniable that some taglines rooted in history are here to stay, it brings up the question of whether or not newly created taglines are relevant in this time and age.

Denise Lee Yohn is a brand-building expert and believes “the way we use taglines should shift from making declarative statements. In the ‘70s, American Express warned “Don’t leave home without it,” and in the ‘90s, Nike challenged us to “Just do it.” But now, as cultural power shifts from corporations to consumers, it no longer seems appropriate for brands to be issuing imperatives.” She makes a good point in that people don’t want to be told what to do or how to feel anymore. In an age where social media makes it possible for millions of people to connect with fellow consumers and engage in direct conversation with companies, has the tagline simply become an open sign on the front door and nothing more?

Jim Morris, a freelance writer for AdAge thinks “the industry has shifted its gaze, taking its eye off the brand ball as it tracks the latest shiny objects. Now it’s all about interactively engaging with customers using lots of words or, worse, no words – just pictures transmitted via websites, blogs, viral videos, social media and the like… In the next year of two, I expect the pendulum to begin its return trip as our industry’s collective fog lifts regarding the value of taglines. Bytes, memes, tweets, texts – communication is being served up in shorter, quicker, compressed bits and bursts. Taglines – good ones – [will] play right into the digital bias toward the quick and catchy.”
It seems to be an evolutionary period for the beloved tagline. The truth is that the role of the tagline hasn’t and won’t change but rather the medium it is presented in has and will continue to. The famous tags at the top of this article were created in a time when companies had the power to shape their own brand through print, TV, and radio. Now companies have to deal with a digital age where social media and connectivity have ultimately put consumers in the drivers seat.

No longer can new companies have one tagline that will forever be their Cree. They need day tags, week tags, and/or month tags that adapt to social events, trends, and uprisings. It’s about letting consumers know that companies are genuinely interested in their story and what’s happening in their lives. For advertising agencies this presents a challenge, they will have to find a way to maintain a companies core values and main message while simultaneously trying to relate that message to a constantly changing landscape where anyone can interact, critic, challenge, build up and/or break down a brand in seconds.