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Developing a tagline
Wikipedia (2007)
Case study by Dewey Hammond

To read this case study online:

Taglines need to be unique, relevant, memorable, and elicit an emotional response,

which is why writing a great tagline is so difficult: The checklist is usually longer than the
tagline itself.

Why Wikipedia's current tagline falls flat

The Free Encyclopedia may be relevant, but it is neither unique nor memorable, and it
doesn't resonate emotionally with consumers. Instead it is an uninspiring description
that promotes a non-exclusive feature instead of more relevant consumer benefits. It also
fails to leverage Wikipedia's unique proposition.

Wikipedia’s unique proposition

What differentiates Wikipedia is that it is an encyclopedia built collaboratively by its
users, and also that it is in a constant state of change, expansion and improvement.
Wikipedia embraces the fact that knowledge is a moving target, and it invites users to be
valuable assets in the ongoing efforts to improve its product. An effective tagline must
support both collaboration and continuity.

Recommendation: Bring Knowledge to Life

• Bring is an invitation to participate and a reminder that the active participation
of users is welcome and necessary
• Knowledge is the foundation upon which Wikipedia exists
• Life evokes feelings of constant maturation—change, expansion and

Why it works
Bring Knowledge to Life is short, relevant and memorable, and it resonates emotionally
with Wikipedia’s key stakeholders: readers and contributors (i.e., writers, editors,
employees and financial supporters).

For readers, Wikipedia brings knowledge to life in a way that can be both relevant and
emotional. “Smith” is no longer just a surname; it is a history and story that can be
shared with friends and family. St. Louis is no longer just a city; it’s the American
“birthplace” of iced tea (St. Louis World Fair, 1904).

Contributors facilitate the creation, development, processing and dissemination of

knowledge. They are emotionally vested in a product with which they share a sense of
mission, and for them the tagline represents an opportunity, not a directive. And
because contributors are also readers, the emotional attachment is amplified.

Though similar in sound and strategy to GE’s recently retired We Bring Good Things to
Life, Bring Knowledge to Life is unique in a specific and strategic way: the conspicuous
absence of “we,” an omission by design that stresses that Wikipedia alone is not
responsible for the success of its product.
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Close but not quite

• Bring Knowledge Alive is on strategy, and it is shorter, but it is not as
• Bring Information to Life also is on strategy, but it lacks emotional appeal.
• Nurture Knowledge is inviting, emotionally relevant and appeals to key
stakeholders, but it does not convey continuity, and also may be too singsongy.

• Encyclopedia Evolved1
• Where Knowledge Lives2
• Kill Curiosity3
• Fill in the Blanks4
• Perfection in Progress5
• Living, Breathing Knowledge6
• Knowledge Brought to Life7
• Everything You’ll Ever Want to Know8
• In Case You Didn’t Know Already9
• Where You Go When You Want to Know10
• For What You Don’t Know11
• Go Ahead, Explore12
• Breathe Life into Knowledge13

Thank you for reading.

Please visit my portfolio:

1 An interesting concept, but lacks emotional appeal and is not inviting

2 Nice emotional appeal, but fails to convey a sense of collaboration
3 Mostly on strategy except kill is too negative and curiosity not always relevant
4 Mostly on strategy except fill is a directive, and the strategy calls for an invitation
5 Arguably on strategy, but needs to convey a stronger sense of collaboration
6 An interesting concept, but is not inviting and may lack emotional appeal
7 Inspirational, but use of past tense runs counter to continuity
8 Too long, not believable, and does not convey collaboration
9 Too long, and does not resonate with all stakeholders
10 Too long, and does not resonate with all stakeholders
11 Does not resonate with all stakeholders
12 Does not resonate with all stakeholders
13 Does not resonate with all stakeholders

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