How Important Is Using a Brand Tagline?

By George Farris, CEO, Farris Marketing

YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio – Burger King has used its well-known tagline, “Have it Your Way,” for more than 40 years. So when, at the beginning of October, Burger King announced it was changing its tagline to “You Rule,” it expected a huge reaction.

For the most part, the reaction Burger King received was reflected by my wife’s comment when I broke the news. “Marie, you’re not going to believe this,” I said. “But Burger King changed its ‘Have It Your Way”’ tagline to “You Rule.”

She looked at me and said, “Oh.”

Advertisers are always more excited about their marketing than anyone else but I’m guessing no one was high fiving in the BK headquarters.


I’ve always been amazed by the resistance we face whenever we suggested changing a tagline. The resistance seems to stem from the emotional connection company officials make between the tagline and their company identity. 

But if you get hung up on that argument, you lose sight of the purpose of a tagline – to better identify your value or benefit.

It’s marketing – and taglines are designed to help you sell your product or service. Nothing more. Nothing less.

So YES, you should change your tagline if you can better communicate your value or benefit. And there are plenty of anecdotes that show keeping your tagline for decades is not the best strategy.

For example, Burger King, which used one tagline for 40 years, is the No. 7 fast food chain in the United States, even though it had 7,105 sites and an enormous $10.03 billion in sales last year.

McDonald’s, on the other hand, is No. 1, with 13,438 sites and $45.96 billion in sales. But McDonald’s has used at least a dozen taglines.


You need a brand name. You need a logo. You need a website. But no, you do not absolutely need a tagline. Taglines do help you to position your organization and its offerings. Many successful companies, however, get by with no taglines or taglines that are rarely used. 

Starbucks has 15,450 sites and $24.3 billion in sales. But if you asked 100 people to recite the Starbucks tagline, you might get five who could correctly answer, “Coffee That Inspires.”  

“Live Mas” is the tagline of Taco Bell, which has 7,002 outlets and $12.6 billion in sales. Even if you found a few non-Taco Bell employees who could repeat that tagline, you could bet your beefy burrito, they don’t know it means “Live More.”


A good tagline is one that works as an umbrella explanation of everything you offer. The real final test of a good tagline is that you should be able to use it as a headline.

I know that sounds odd but try it. If you could put your tagline on a billboard above your logo and web address, you have a good tagline – or at least one that is better than, “You Rule.”