agricultural taglines in marketing

An informal survey reveals very few taglines in ag meet the criteria to be great.

If you walk around a farm show, flip through a farm magazine or scroll through a few ag brand websites, you’ll probably see a lot of clever lines and phrases hovering near logos. It would be imprudent, though, to classify most of those lines as taglines.

There are a lot of campaign summaries and functional product statements, but not a lot of great, lasting taglines.  A recent informal survey with 20 of my colleagues confirmed my theory: Ag marketing lacks memorable, powerful taglines.

Why aren’t there more great taglines in ag?

Some would say it’s a time problem. For example, crop protection products have short life-cycles and are rarely in market long enough for a tagline to stick. That’s assuming, of course, that the same brand strategy and tagline were used for the duration of the product’s marketing life.

Others would suggest the issue is money – money for television advertising. In my informal survey, respondents identified strong taglines in and out of ag and what they all have in common. Several said strong TV campaigns are a common thread for great taglines like Allstate’s “You’re in Good Hands” or “Got Milk” by the California Milk Processor’s Board. Perhaps money helps, but it doesn’t fix bad.

It’s not a talent problem, either. Ag companies hire smart, internal marketing pros, just like big consumer brands. Some work with big, consumer agencies, while others work with ag shops. Both know how to do branding and taglines.

Could it be that expectations are low in the category? Do some believe brands need to keep it simple and unpretentious… that farmers don’t want that kind of advertising? Should we assume older, more pragmatic generations who aren’t moved by great taglines and great advertising make the purchases for the farm?

These questions could be debated, and have been, for a long time. But there are some hard facts: Great advertising, branding and taglines work. We see some remarkable creative for ag brands and some long-running campaigns. Yet, there is a general lack of powerful, enduring taglines.

Maybe a place to start is agreeing on what a tagline is.

In addition to citing memorable taglines, I asked my colleagues to help me define “tagline” and the criteria of a great tagline.

Our definition of a tagline is simple: A tagline is a quick, catchy phrase attached to a brand that captures the essence of the brand, emotionally connects and rings true with audiences, and endures for years even when the campaign changes.

A tagline is not a functional description of the product or category. Nor is it the campaign headline or positioning statement.

A good tagline is concise, differentiating, ownable and memorable. You know you have a great tagline when it meets the following criteria that emerged from our informal survey.

7 Criteria for a Great Tagline

  1. Bold and succinct
  2. Intrinsic to brand
  3. Distinct and differentiating
  4. True to the brand
  5. Memorable
  6. Enduring
  7. Resonates with all audiences

One of my colleagues suggests that ag brands are chasing relevancy and that’s why there’s scarcity of great taglines. There’s some truth to it. But there’s hope. Let’s agree on what a tagline is and what it isn’t, and then let’s develop and commit to taglines that meets all these criteria. Just do it.