Wednesday September 17, 2014
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How to write a terrific tagline

How to write a terrific tagline

Taglines are words that accompany your business name. At my site, the Big Brand System, it’s “Grow your business with great design.”

A tagline can be a business asset if you know how to craft it. It’s like a little salesperson who proclaims what’s best about what you do. So why do so many companies either not utilize taglines, or simply get them wrong?

Not enough attention has been paid to the humble tagline, and I’m here to remedy that. Let’s talk about what makes a great tagline, and go through the steps I follow when I’m working with a client to craft one for their business, so that you can create one, too.

Rule Number One:

The most important rule for a good tagline is that it should be short, and it should be clear. Every time I work with a client to create one, I use the same, tired joke: “Your tagline should be short and clear enough that if it’s on a billboard, people won’t drive off the road trying to read it.”

This means your tagline should be no more than seven or eight words, and you should pick words that are crystal clear. If your business name is long, keep your tagline even shorter.

Compliment and Complete the Information:

If your business name isn’t descriptive, your tagline should complete the information. So if your business is called “Jones & Smith, Inc.,” and you manufacture doll house furniture, your tagline needs to do the job of explaining exactly what your business offers. In this case, you could create a tag line like this:

Jones & Smith, Inc.: Fine Furniture for Tiny Homes

Since your business name doesn’t explain what you do, your tagline completes the information.

On the other hand, if your business name states exactly what you offer, your tagline can compliment it by stating the benefit of your product or service. Let’s use the same company and change the name:

Dollhouse Furniture, Inc.

Adding “Fine Furniture for Tiny Homes” would be re-stating the information conveyed in the company name. Instead, let’s try a tagline focused on a benefit:

Dollhouse Furniture, Inc.: Heirloom Quality on a Small Scale

And That’s Good Because…?

Use this question to help you discover the benefit your tagline should state. To find the benefit, ask (and answer) the question above. Keep asking, and keep answering until you run out of answers.

If we go back to our example, here’s how the brainstorming might go:

Q: What benefit does our product offer? A: It provides high-quality furniture for doll houses.

Q: And that’s good because…? A: It allows children to play with the furniture for many years without worrying about breaking it.

Q: And that’s good because…?A. Those children will grow up, and they can pass the doll furniture on to their own children.

Q: And that’s good because…?A. The furniture will live on beyond the buyer’s life.

Q: And that’s good because…?A. Well, because immortality is always good.

You get the idea: keep answering the question “and that’s good because?” until you can’t answer it any more. You’ll end up with benefits that get to the heart of what will motivate your customers. That core motivation is what you should reference in your tagline.

The Secret Power of Taglines:

You know what’s great about taglines that no one seems to talk about? They offer you fantastic flexibility. Your business name has to be registered with the authorities, and is in all your legal documents, your web site URL, your signage and more. If you decide to change your business name, it’s a real hassle.

Taglines aren’t as permanent, however. You can create a new tagline for your business pretty easily. If your business changes direction, or you add to the services or products you offer, you can simply re-write or add to your existing tagline.

Taglines are terrific vehicles for communicating your offer. Does your business have a tagline? Are you happy with it?

About the author: Pamela Wilson is a business marketing expert. Visit Pamela Wilson’s Big Brand System and start growing your business with great design and marketing.

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5 comments

  1. Thank you for this. Another job to put on my list! As a copywriter I’m always trying to get clients to ask the “So what?” question about everything they say to their customers, and naturally it should apply to tag lines as well. One thing I might add is my particular hobby horse and that’s “solutions”. It says nothing and takes up valuable space where every word matters.

  2. I agree! “Solutions” is a word that’s so overused it has lost its meaning.

  3. You guys should check out Pamela’s newsletter – it’s a great resource for design

  4. This could not have come a better time. I was only talking about adressing mine the other day.
    Brilliant thank you.

  5. Thank you, Pamela. That was brilliant!!

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