Just as the Miss America Pageant protestors did in the 1960s when they dumped their bras, girdles and other “instruments of torture” into a Freedom trash can, nonprofits today are dumping their taglines.
So if you are at this moment, struggling to come up with a 3-5 word tagline that is genuine, unique and encompasses everything you do now and in the near future, the torture can stop. If you do use a tagline, don’t be afraid to revisit the need for one. Is your tagline really adding to your messaging or is it just getting in the way?
We looked at over 150 well-known nonprofits to find out what they were doing with their taglines. 70% of them were NOT using taglines as part of their logo.
Reasons why it might be better to not have a tagline attached to your logo:
You have more flexibility with your messaging – you are not tied to just one – and you can place your tagline in a far more prominent spot on your website or marketing materials. This extra flexibility also makes it easier to update you tagline / messaging depending on the circumstances.
Pulling your tagline out from under your logo also gives you more room to say want you really want to say (not just 3 -5 words).
There is a trend toward smaller headers as photos and slideshows are taking up even more space on the website’s main page. As the logos get smaller in those headers, taglines would be even more challenging to read.
Sometimes a tagline can be a distraction when you really want the focus to be on other messages on the page like a ones for a specific campaign:
Design trends are going toward simpler and cleaner both in logo design and web design. Taglines can add unnecessary clutter without adding a whole lot of value unless you have a really impactful (and that is really hard to come by in so few words).
As mission statements are getting more casual and shorter, it’s more appropriate to use them as messages on your website main page – making the tagline redundant.
When you move your tagline to a more prominent position on your website (and hopefully expand it), it still needs to make sense on its own and be something uniquely yours. Volunteers of America appear be using “This is why we do what we do” as as part of their messaging. And they trademarked it. I suppose it’s possible that the statement above it is part of the trademark – but either way – the 2nd half of that message is far too general (I actually can’t figure out why it’s trademarked) and confusing. Personally I think the message works well with the “this is why we do what we do” just entirely removed.
In this example, I love the campaign message “Someday is Today” but it appears to be overwhelming the logo and tagline – and making it look a little cluttered. This would be a great opportunity to drop the tagline and allow the focus to be on the campaign message without competition.
This is an example where the tagline can conflict with messaging. The message is so close to the tagline that it’s actually confusing – are they actually tagline part A and tagline part B? If they are supposed to go together, I think it would be more effective to leave off the tagline and put the entire message on the main page or choose one or the other for the tagline or message.
If you are going to use a tagline, I think it’s important to make sure your other messages coordinate with the tagline. In this example, the main message doesn’t seem to have anything to do with children at first glance – when their tagline is Children First. And “Saving Lives, Building Futures” is one of those bland, overused messages that just doesn’t have any real meaning. I think they would have been better off using part of their text below the message as the main message i.e. “Protecting the worlds most vulnerable children”
If you use a tagline attached to your logo, it still needs to be short and look cohesive. This one from the Y actually seems a little scattered: For Youth Development, For Healthy Living, For Social Responsibility. That seems like a lot of disparate goals – how do they work together? Is there a better concept that encompasses all 3?