Truelines: The Truth Behind Your Tagline

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Last night, I sat down and read a few pages of “Zag” by Marty Neumeier | Website | Twitter |. This book is really made for people whom are not entirely fond of reading, especially those easily distracted like myself. Within these pages, I really attached myself to a specific part that talks about crafting your message or tagline, but more importantly, it focuses on how that small phrase needs to carefully align itself with your trueline.

Marty Neumeier Zag
Courtesy of


At Boldthink, we are actually in the midst of doing this ourselves, and trust me its not easy! In all honesty, half of our taglines sound like awesome ideas for Valentine’s Day cards so be on the lookout next February! Nonetheless, having a truthful tagline is something you have to do in order to breed success as a company, but also to become a memorable brand.

Most of us can easily define a tagline, but what does a “trueline” mean?

 trueline is an internal positioning line that is one true thing you can say about your brand. It also must be something none of your competitors can say, and something your customers find valuable and credible.

Wow. Now let’s compare that to the definition of a tagline. A tagline is a memorable phrase that sums up the tone and presence of a brand and is used to reinforce the brand in the audience’s mind.

So would it be safe to say that a tagline is simply a tool that helps polish off and glamourize the trueline of a brand? Nowadays, too many brands push themselves under the rug not because of who they are, but rather who they aren’t. A trueline is a brand’s way to be honest with their audience and themselves, and also differentiate themselves from the competition––which is essential in order to have a memorable brand. Truth breeds honesty, we all know that. How many brands and companies can you riddle off that do not exactly add up to their taglines or just really aren’t memorable (probably can’t remember too many of those, huh?)

Famous Brand Taglines and Truelines

When I think of taglines, I mainly think of a few key brands: Apple, McDonalds, RedBull, Nike, and Subway. These brands are within industries that are extremely competitive  yet they remain on top as the most powerful and memorable. Why is that? It all leads down to consistency within all the moving parts of a brand. When aligning your trueline to the crafting of your tagline, it is important to note that these small phrases will be seen at all customer touch points and will be the pinnacle of all marketing efforts. This phrase should drive your marketing and not change too often. In order to go from a brand with a great tagline to a brand that is remembered for it, repetition and consistency is essential.

McDonalds Logo I'm Loving It Tagphrase

McDonalds, for example, uses their tagline “I’m lovin’ it” in every commercial, on every cup, bag, and piece of potential marketing collateral. I remember being a kid in the 1990’s when McDonalds was notorius for changing their tagline often. This was confusing to their audience because it was inconsistent and it did not reflect well on McDonalds as being a trustworthy company. Along the ever-changing slogans came the disputes with food quality and the finger pointing for the increasing obesity rates. From “Smile” to “We love to see your smile” to “My McDonalds” to “Put a smile on” to “Have you had your break today?”––The 1990’s were a schizophrenic time for McDonald’s marketing. Since 2003 they have kept the simple “I’m lovin’ it” which is truthful, urban, simple and timeless.

Before this post wraps up, I want to leave you with some tactics to keep in mind when crafting your trueline and tagline.


  •  Write down all the service and products your company provides, and do the same for your competitors––circle the ones that are unique
  • Consult your friends, customers, and network to see their view on your brand and what it is you do
  • This should be honest not artfully crafted or too short.
  • It is about what they say and not about what you say


  • These should be short and sweet
  • Spend a lot of time crafting this, you want it to stand the test of time
  • Be prepared to fully engage your tagline across all marketing efforts
  • Be clever, unique, and most importantly memorable
  • A tagline is simply just a polished form of your trueline; do not veer too far away.

Even though the section about taglines and truelines in “Zag” is only about two small pages, there is a lot to be said about such a seemingly simple concept. While we at BoldThink continue to scribble little phrases in our notebooks, we ask you to do the same. Be unafraid to write down an idea that may seem silly or strange, you never know where it may lead. At the end of the day, just remember to brand yourself boldly.

Did you think that was our tagline? Nope, not yet. *evil laughter fades into the distance*

P.S. Here is a link to a short video with Marty Neumeier sharing his views on taglines and truelines.

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