A Tale of Two Trucks

by David Heitman

I saw two trucks driving next to each other the other day, one belonging to a local mattress company, and the other a Guinness beer truck. The first one carried the tagline More Mattress. Less Money. The  Guinness truck read Fortune Favors the Bold.

Both are pretty effective as taglines go.

The mattress company has, in four words (and two punctuation marks), successfully expressed its brand promise to prospective consumers. Not bad. I’ve seen large companies with multimillion dollar marketing budgets do far worse—usually the result of trying to pack too much into the tagline and leaving nothing to the imagination.

The Guinness tagline, of course, takes things to a whole new level. To begin with, it says nothing about the beer itself. It makes a statement about life and history and destiny, and by association, aligns the brand with some highly cherished cultural virtues. It turns drinking Guinness into a form of self-actualization.


We help a lot of clients with their taglines, and it’s one of the most challenging and creative endeavors we undertake. The less-is-more, haiku-like world of taglines is a real art, requiring a healthy dose of resistance to abstract superlatives.

Inevitably, the tagline development process is a window into the soul of an organization. Its leadership team is looking for a shorthand expression of self-identfication. While not to be confused with a mission statement, a tagline is a form of personality projection.

Outwardly, a tagline is the fastest way to deliver the impression a company wants to make on its audience. The question is whether that projection is one focused on products and services, or on the culture a company seeks to foment among its prospects and customers. There’s a place for both.

But to avoid the obvious and to leverage a tagline that makes a statement about life that is bigger than the company itself? That’s a courageous move that communicates supreme self-confidence. That’s attractive to consumers and even B2B audiences, because…well…fortune favors the bold.

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