“Just do it.” “Think different.” Every day we are bombarded by taglines and slogans in the retail world. Why do some become part of our cultural vernacular and make an indelible impression in our memories — while others do not? The difference is that a successful tagline evokes an emotional response that can influence behavior. It becomes more than just a phrase — it becomes a powerful motivator.
Consumer brands utilize taglines to attract consumers, influence behavior and create brand champions. Employer brands can use them to the same effect — to attract the desired kind of talent, engage employees and create loyalty. The most effective ones possess a compelling spirit of authenticity that reaches the hearts and minds of employees. They forge a deep personal and emotional connection with employees. In doing so, they attract employees to the company and inspire them to stay.
At their core, they appeal to what Daniel Pink refers to in his book Drive as the feelings of “mastery” and “purpose.” With mastery, individuals desire to get better and better at something that matters. With purpose, motivated people will hitch their desires to a much bigger cause.
Identifying the emotional core
In order to connect your employees to that sense of higher purpose, your company must have clearly defined that. Defining your company’s purpose and promise starts with examining the core motivating philosophies that drive your brand from within. Author and speaker Simon Sinek asks companies the question: “Why do you do what you do?” Sinek states, “People don’t buy what you do, they buy why you do it.” When you talk about what you believe, you will attract those who believe what you believe. Your internal tagline summarizes this purpose in a meaningful, actionable phrase that helps you connect with passionate, engaged, like-minded employees.
Here are a few examples:
Disney ABC Television Group, like all media and technology companies, is constantly challenged to stay relevant and innovative by unrolling new content, businesses and channels. Their employer brand’s tagline is “Create What’s Next.”
Avery Dennison capitalized upon an opportunity to break the mold, change their culture and communicate with employees in a new way when they launched their refreshed Code of Conduct. Instead of distributing yet another rulebook written in dense legal jargon, the company published a clear set of guidelines in accessible language that focused on the dilemmas employees face in the course of their daily lives. In doing so, the company gave every employee a chance to “Make Your Mark.”
DineEquity, the parent company of IHOP and Applebee’s, unveiled a rallying cry that connects employees across their portfolio of brands with the company’s larger purpose. Their internal tagline “Go for great!” builds upon the promise of “impact beyond the ordinary” and amplifies the corporate tagline “Great franchisees. Great brands.”
Creating your call to action
When developing a tagline for your own employer brand, keep the following top of mind:
- Stick to short and memorable. It should be no more than four words; two to three words are ideal for recall and impact.
- Evoke an emotional response. Use words that connect on an emotional level, rather than a rational or logical statement. This will create a more meaningful bond that employees can align with.
- Reflect your brand’s purpose and promise. Channel the essence of your brand platform as succinctly as you can.
- Make it actionable. Use an active tense to create a feeling of excitement and inspiration. Aim for a bold, declarative mantra.
- Keep it open-ended. Look for a phrase that encourages employees to add their own response, fill in the blank or take personal ownership in some way.
- Connect to your key messages. Your internal tagline should set up and contextualize your company’s key messaging framework. Differentiate from competitors. Your message will be unique to your purpose, but it’s good to be aware of what others are saying.
Your rallying cry is like a bell that is rung and heard by all. Like all good brand work, you will need to invest time and gather a variety of perspectives as you embark on this intense strategic and creative journey. You’ll know when you have arrived at the “aha!” moment when everyone around you finds something in your internal tagline that resonates with them personally. And the payoffs — increased employee engagement, the ability to attract and retain like-minded talent and more — will be more than worth it.