Creativity Christmas Marketing Services

How retailers can nail taglines for the holiday season

By Konrad Sanders | CEO

The Creative Copywriter


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September 24, 2021 | 8 min read

’Tis the season for retailers to start thinking about their extra-special Christmas taglines.

The Creative Copywriter on how to nail a good tagline in time for Christmas.

The Creative Copywriter on how to nail a good tagline in time for Christmas

The tagline that will get their customers feeling all merry and fuzzy inside.

It can be a teeny bit pressurizing to get it just right – especially with the busyness of the holiday run-up to handle at the same time.

Taglines are there to inspire. They exist to create a desired feeling and motivate your customers to emotionally invest in your brand.

It’s no secret that the retail market becomes super competitive around the holidays. So to stand out, you need to create a tagline that resonates with your target audience.

Let’s take a look at how to do that.

1. Make it stand for something

Your tagline should be true to your brand values. The last thing you want to do is create a campaign tagline that veers so far from your brand that your target audience doesn't even recognise you.

The most important starting point is to be honest with yourself. If you’re all about witty language, cool vibes and edginess, that clearly works for you. But in the same vein, if your brand is built around being reliable and sturdy, there’s nothing wrong with that.

Essentially, don’t pretend to be something you’re not.

Here’s an example: John Lewis’s 2017 Christmas campaign was centered around ‘Moz the Monster’ with the tagline ‘For gifts that brighten their world’.

This is very John Lewis, whose brand values are centered around ‘We Not Me’; about creating togetherness and going the extra mile for others.

Rules of thumb:

  • List your brand values and whenever you create a tagline refer back to them.

  • Play with words that you often associate with your brand. They may not have made the cut for your nailed-down brand value, but they can still be powerful.

2. Choose clear over clever

There can be a tendency to go for an overly clever tagline; of course, you want to impress. But in reality, the true value you are trying to convey can easily get lost.

A tagline needs to evoke clear value. The audience needs to understand it instantly – it shouldn’t be a head-scratcher.

Simple and clear is always best. The 2014 Christmas campaign from Qantas encapsulated nostalgic clarity. And it was a bit of a tear-jerker.

‘Feels like home’ won the hearts of many who just wanted to be with their family at Christmas. It tells a three-word story that you can instantly understand, provoking emotional responses and creating a connection you can’t ignore.

Rules of thumb:

  • Don’t use lengthy, complex words – you’re not a thesaurus, and nor are your customers.

  • Use words that you know will resonate with your customers, that mean something to them. ‘Home’ is the perfect example.

3. Avoid clichés

There’s nothing worse than a worn-out tagline concept.

These kinds of taglines are nearly always served with a big heap of vagueness. There is nothing new or fresh about them.

Think ‘Do more, for less’ or ‘We do XYZ, so you don’t have to’.

You’ve heard them many a time, and so has everyone else.

The tricky thing about clichés is that they can creep in without you knowing or realizing.

You, on the other hand, need to be different. You want a Christmas tagline that makes your customers swoon over its uniqueness.

Rules of thumb:

  • Leave jargon at the door. And if you’re not sure if you’re talking in jargon, a quick Google search will show you if a million other brands had exactly the same idea (or similar).

  • Time to get out the handy thesaurus and play with messaging. If the only way you can think to communicate your message is by words that have been used again and again, find a fresh word to mix it up.

And this leads us nicely on to...

4. Make them do a double take

Eye-catching is the secret here. You want them to read it once, then go back in for more – just to make sure they got the full effect.

Ikea’s 2019 Christmas campaign ‘Silence the Critics’ was a great example of this.

It ditched classic Christmas sentimentality in favor of a humorous take on festive anxiety and ‘home shame’ when it comes to hosting a Christmas dinner.

So while everyone was waiting for the smooshy Christmas taglines to drop, no one expected Ikea to go in that direction.

Yet, the magic is it’s entirely relatable. They honed in on a common customer pain point (c’mon, we’ve all felt it) and made it work for them. In three words, no less.

Rules of thumb:

  • Get to the root of what your customers truly want – it might not be all sparkle and glitter. This way you can craft a tagline that will make them sit up and take notice.

  • Use language that they may use themselves. This is where voice-of-customer data can come in. Research your target audience and discover exactly how they talk about their problems.

5. Create something memorable

Last, but definitely not least – make sure your tagline is worth remembering.

The idea is that it has an emotional impact and stays in customers’ minds, creating that all-important longevity.

A glowing example of this is Coca-Cola’s well-loved Christmas ad tagline that’s been in our heads for years. Not least because of the (annoyingly) catchy song.

You’ve guessed it... ‘Holidays are coming’ has been around for years, with good reason. It’s short, sweet and nostalgic, with just the right dash of excitement. It works because it’s something we could easily say to our friends and family.

Rules of thumb:

  • Think about a phrase that’s commonly used around the holidays, and try out some play on words. Something that’s already familiar – but with your own spin – will work wonders.

  • Use power words and build suspense; try to stay away from anything bland. You want to tap into the meaningful aspect of Christmas, not bore your customers.

And that’s a wrap from me, but if you want a bit more inspiration here’s a handy blog post that lets you into a few more tagline secrets.

Konrad Sanders, founder at The Creative Copywriter.

Creativity Christmas Marketing Services

Content by The Drum Network member:

The Creative Copywriter

The Creative Copywriter is a fast-growth copywriting and content strategy agency that blends creative thinking with the science of strategy. TCC works with clients - on a global scale - to remove the guesswork from their content and copywriting efforts, finding words that resonate and convert. It’s this combo of science and art which helps clients like Adidas, Hyundai, Tik Tok and Geox strengthen and power up their brands with the right strategic words at every step of the funnel. Led by Konrad Sanders (CEO and Lead Strategist) and Nitzan Regev-Sanders (MD), TCC develops methodologies to spearhead the science and art approach, such as The 13 Lenses - an analysis tool that takes the ‘is this copy powerful enough?’ question out of copy creation.

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