Two missions, one tagline

Ideally companies are driven by a single mission, to be expressed in a single tagline. But life is not always ideal and a situation may come about where you have multiple missions, each one begging to be expressed. What do you do?

Essentially there are four choices. You can:

  1. Choose one of the missions and elevate it to “most important status,” expressing only that in your tagline
  2. Choose two or even three of the missions and express them all in the tagline
  3. Go higher-level than all of the missions and express a vision
  4. None of the above—just say something memorable

Strategy #3 seems to be the most popular if you look at the “top 10” taglines described at (quoted below; my interpretation after the dashes)

“1. Got milk? (1993) California Milk Processor Board – very direct and product oriented; no vision here

2. Don’t leave home without it. (1975) American Express – vision-oriented; the idea of being “indispensable”

3. Just do it. (1988) Nike – vision-oriented

4. Where’s the beef? (1984) Wendy’s – just memorable

5. You’re in good hands with Allstate. (1956) Allstate Insurance –vision-oriented

6. Think different. (1998) Apple Computer –vision-oriented

7. We try harder. (1962) Avis –vision-oriented

8. Tastes great, less filling. (1974) Miller Lite –mission-oriented

9. Melts in your mouth, not in your hands. (1954) M&M Candies –mission-oriented

10. Takes a licking and keeps on ticking. (1956) Timex” – mission-oriented

I myself prefer a more literal tagline, one that sounds almost like a mission statement, if only because a company name rarely describes what it does, and it’s a crowded market: you have about two seconds to make it clear what value you contribute, and your name probably doesn't signify what you do. (Not everybody can be a superbrand and go abstract.) But I can see where option #3 works – it has a unifying quality that brings out a higher-level purpose to all the diverse things the company does.

Bottom line: If you’re stuck for a tagline, go higher. But try to keep it memorable AND distinctly related to the product or service.