Let's Talk Taglines

Taglines (aka slogans or mottos) are the 1 or 2 short little sentences that follow a company's name.  The most famous tagline of all?  You've probably already said it to yourself and your brain has conjured up the iconic image of the swoosh.  Yep, it's Nike's "Just do it".  But for most of us we don't get to pick a tagline and have it endure for 25+ years and watch it enter the pop culture lexicon.

Most companies will have multiple taglines over the years.  And it makes sense because of two things 1) the changing attitudes and values of your customers and 2) the natural evolution of your brand.

So what's the purpose of a tagline?  What's its job?  Well, it elegantly distills the essence of your brand into an artfully crafted sentence (or two) that's designed to strike an emotional chord with your intended audience.

That's a lot of work for a catchy little phrase.  Which is why crafting a great one can be challenging.  But don't be too hard on yourself, even the big brands get it wrong sometimes.

Let's start with the list of Tagline Don'ts (just to be different).

AVOID the following when formulating your perfect tagline:

  • vague
  • ambiguous
  • long, wordy behemoths - the longer it is the less likely it'll stick in your customer's mind
  • pretentious
  • confusing
  • complicated
  • negative
  • boring
  • and watch the sexual innuendos, unles it fits with your brand.  because if you Google bad taglines you'll find a host of brands who somehow failed to see that their tagline could be taken the wrong way.  Just run it past your friend with a dirty mind first, and get their thumbs up.  If they start to laugh - head back to your notebook.


Tagline DOs

Clarity - espcially if your name doesn't say it all. If your name is a made up word or a sound your tagline can explain who you are or what you do.

Connect - a tagline is a great place to align your brand values with your target market's worldview.  Show you "get" them by giving them a "Yes! This is for me!" moment.

Competitive Advantage - point out what makes you different.  Why you stand out from the competition.

Why they should CARE - especially if your business is new your tagline should probably focus on why anyone should care.  Why they should bother paying attention to YOU.

Questions to get you Thinking

1.  What defines your brand or company?  What makes you stand out?  What do you want to be known for?

2.  What defines your audience?  What are the defining characteristics of your ideal clients?  What makes them separate from the crowd?

3.  Where's the overlap?  The overlap is your sweet spot.  It's the common ground you share where you can both get excited about what you're offering.

4.  How can you turn it into a story?  How can you tagline story affirm the story your client is already telling themselves?  So they can see themselves in your tagline and immediately recognise your product as something that's perfect for them.

Tips & Tricks

If your highly visual like me (or perhaps if you're more hands on) this is a little trick that might help if you get stuck.  Once you've brainstormed to the point of having a few words or phrases you're playing around with try writing them out on different cue cards.  The it becomes like a puzzle.  You can move the different "pieces" around and try out different ways of fitting them together.

Be prepared with pen and paper to write down any inspired combinations.  And don't forget to check the thesaurus if a word doesn't feel quite right maybe there's something better.

Also once you've found something you're happy with don't forget to Google it to make sure it's not already being used.  Taglines, like everything you write, name etc. should be 100% you.

Now, roll up your sleeves, put on your best mad-scientist grin and get to work!