(Fifth in a series about fundamental marketing documents every business needs. The fourth was: How to write a kick-butt brand positioning statement)
Everyone seems to stress about writing a great tagline for their business as if it is going to make or break them.
It won’t. It’s not required that you have one. In fact, some advertising experts are saying that taglines are dead. The idea is that with the rise of content marketing, there are fewer big budget ad campaigns that require the pithy one-liners of yesteryear.
I wouldn’t go that far. I think it takes a long time for something that has been such a mainstay to go away that quickly. Businesses still like having taglines on their websites, social media sites, business cards and collaterals.
So are they worthwhile? Yeah, good ones are, if they are used consistently. They are little work horses. Done well, they encapsulate your brand promise in a few words. They can help you set your business apart from the masses.
Everyone knows the famous Nike tagline: “Just do it.” Nike wouldn’t be Nike without it. Here are some other famous ones:
- Apple: Think different.
- McDonald’s: I’m lovin’ it.
- Verizon: Can you hear me now? Good.
- Loreal: Because you’re worth it.
- California Milk Processor Board: Got milk?
- M&Ms: Melts in your mouth, not in your hands.
- Lays: Betcha can’t eat just one.
- Meow Mix: It’s so good, cats ask for it by name.
- The New York Times: All the news that’s fit to print.
So, the question is, how do you write a great tagline? There are some guidelines to follow:
First, above all, make sure your tagline is understandable. It’s much more important that your tagline is clear than clever.
Don’t use clichés and overused words, such as “future,” “excellence” and “best,” such as, “We strive for excellence” or “Our employees are what set us apart.”
Keep it short — generally, the shorter the better. “Got milk?” is a great example of a super short and effective tagline. “It’s so good, cats ask for it by name,” is on the long side, but very effective. Just don’t write run-on sentences without a compelling reason.
Writing the tagline
Now is the time to pull out the mission statement and brand positioning statement that you wrote earlier. (See how these things are building on each other?) From your mission statement, review what you are selling. Are you offering residential swimming pool installation services or outdoor recreation consulting services? You may think your services are obvious, but maybe not. You want to make sure that your mission statement is nailed down tightly before you try to write your tagline.
Once you can concretely say what you are offering, then look at your positioning statement. It should already tell you what the #1 customer benefit for choosing your company is. If you don’t have a positioning statement, then now’s the time to figure out the benefit (but I highly recommend you go back and write the brand positioning statement first — it makes writing a tagline so much easier).
In the swimming pool example, let’s say you’re offering residential swimming pool installation services, and that you are the area’s top expert in fiberglass pool installation. You can legitimately claim this because you have attended numerous training seminars and have installed more fiberglass pools than anyone in the state.
The benefit to your customers is that you will expertly advise customers about the right kind of pool and properly install their fiberglass pools without problems and hassles. You know what you are doing! Customers are getting ready to spend a bunch of cash on a pool, but they can relax in the knowledge that you have their backs. So, play with the multiple meanings of the word “relax” in a tagline such as:
- “Relax! You’re in an Acme Pool.”
- “Kick back. Relax. It’s an Acme.”
- “You can relax if it’s an Acme Pool.”
I second that emotion
Notice that these examples incorporate emotion. The word “relax” is a word that appeals to the emotions. It’s much more effective than appealing only to the intellect by listing the owner’s trainings and certifications. (That should be listed, mind you — somewhere in the fine print on the website — just not up on the header!)
So whammo, bammo, you’ve got yourself a tagline. In just a few words, you’ve said quite a bit. You’ve communicated:
- Owning an Acme pool is fun and relaxing
- Your customer can rely on you because you’re an expert
- Acme Pools are better than others.
Go write yourself a tagline!