How To Write A Tagline

Create a Crappy Tagline in 5 Easy Steps

After your logo, your tagline may be the most important, or at least most prominent element of your identity. It functions as one of the first and most persistent things your clients will see, hear, and hopefully remember about your company.

A good tagline captures your company’s, product’s, or campaign’s essence in a few short, catchy words. It says something significant about your core brand promise and how you deliver on that promise. It differentiates you from your competition and helps you position your company or product.

 A great tagline takes everything that a good tagline does and adds feelings to the mix. It creates a memorable, emotional response in the reader. Just do it. That’s exciting. You’re in good hands. That’s comforting. It’s everywhere you want to be. That’s reassuring. The common denominator with these truly great taglines is the effort to build emotion into the equation.

How To Write A Tagline

Avoid these 5 mistakes that make your tagline boring, meaningless or forgettable.

1. Ignore your core brand promise and your company’s core competencies

Make sure you don’t address what your company is really great at… ignore the one thing that you can do that no one else will or can do. Federal Express’ great tagline, “When it absolutely, positively has to be there overnight” is a model of distilling a brand differentiator into a memorable, witty phrase.

2. Ignore your target market demographics and psychographics

The great taglines are conversational. They’re phrases you might use in every day (extremely erudite) conversation with your witty friends. You should know enough about your ideal customer or clients to be able to create a client profile and imagine how you’d talk to that person.

An example of this type of tagline fail is Playtex’s “Is that a Playtex under there?”, which sounds like the set up to a bad sexist joke. Dumb move if your target market is women.

3. Make it vague

Ames Rubber’s tagline is “Excellence through total quality”. Could this phrase not be applied with equal meaning to any… ANY company that has produced anything in the last 100 years?

4.  Make it really long

A tagline should be like a great car: just big enough to fill up the garage, but not so big that it breaks the windows. If your tagline is too long, it’ll be hard to remember and say. The exception that proves the rule? “There are some things that money can’t buy. For everything else, there’s Master Card.”

Otherwise, 4 to 7 well-chosen words is a good rule of thumb.

5. Jam it full of jargon or meaningless business-speak

UPS has one of the most revered and recognizable logos in branding history. But for some reason, in 2003, the company added the phrase Synchronizing the World of Commerce to the iconic Paul Rand-designed shield and package.

None of these words are especially jargon-y by themselves, but taken as a unit, it sounds like the kind of claptrap you’d get if you created a computer program to randomly generate catchphrases from slightly out of date business buzzwords.

Think of it as a great pick up line.

It seems like a no-brainer, but remember that your tagline needs to be a conversation starter. If you were having a conversation with someone you wanted to get to know at a club or coffee shop, you wouldn’t just drone on about yourself all night.

When you create a tagline, you’re really trying to start a conversation and begin a relationship. Ask yourself, is this a good way to start a conversation? Will this help establish a connection to our target market? If the answer to those questions is no, keep brainstorming.

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