How to Write the Best Tagline and Why You Must

Tagline writing, not unlike naming — products, services, babies — deserves a special place in hell. It is a vexing and time-consuming process, not unlike going to Motor Vehicles or being on hold with your wireless company.

Nonetheless our businesses, products and services need them.

They help make our brand memorable.

What do you want to be remembered for?

A tagline is not a pitch, a mission statement, or a full description of the company.

They are the mini-me version of your brand message.

 

The hardest part to this tagline thing is getting started.

Why?

No pre-vexation in place.

By that I mean, there are decisions to be made before a single word hits the page.

Your tagline can only do one thing, so that gets established first.

Start with these questions:

  • “What do you want your tagline to do?”
  • Will it state your brand’s promise, “Good to the last drop”
  • State a benefit of working with you, ‘The Citi never sleeps”
  • Differentiate you from the competition, “Eat Fresh”
  • Tell people what you do, “Say it with flowers”
  • Tap into your client’s emotions. “Be all you can be”

They must be catchy, short, and light up the amygdala in our prospect’s minds, (the part that governs emotion, learning, and memory.)

Emotion, because feeling makes memories more sticky and we want our tagline to stick.

See how many of these taglines you can associate with their product/company:

“The Uncola”

“Betcha can’t eat just one”

“Think different”

“When it absolutely, positively, has to be there overnight.”

They are all sticky.

Fun sidenote about Apple’s “Think Different” tagline. It was written in response to IMB’s tagline, “Think.” Talk about nailing the “how we are different” piece.

Research is the first step when I’m putting one of these posts together, and this rabbit hole naturally included really bad taglines. (Thanks for the laughs, Google.)

Uzbekistan Airways, “Good Luck”
You know people are buying life insurance along with this ticket.

Nebraska used “Honestly, it’s not for everyone.”
Feeling bad about yourself there are ya?

KFC’s latest, “Today tastes so good”
Seize the day just became eat the day.

My all-time favorites came from BoredPanda and can be found here.

This one exemplifies why it is crucial to read your tagline in different frames of mind and from every angle.

Or, think like a teenager before buying that expensive awning.

In case you can’t see it, the tagline reads, “Sitting on Faces Since 2001”

Not that you’d ever make these mistakes….

How about a slogan or tagline generator to kick start the creative juices? I’d never tried one, but in the interest of good reporting: I did play with this one from Design Hill.

Enter the keyword you want included and in seconds the software pops out a zillion options. More than I wanted to read. Most are bad, like Johnny Depp in the remake of Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, bad.

Some are Hilarious; Because copywriting Can’t Drive,

Others, Creepy: I’d sleep with copywriting, Gee, Your copywriting  Smells Terrific.

And then there’s WTF: Every Bubble’s Passed Its copywriting, Sweet as the Moment When the copywriting  Went ‘Pop’.

The value in this tool is getting you out of your head, for one. The other is that there is likely a template hiding in the list for your word arrangement.

What I recognized in the results was the bones of some of the great taglines of all time. Like, “Nothing sucks like copywriting” (I agree some days.) It’s a riff on the Electrolux ad from years ago, “Nothing sucks like Electrolux.”  (I hear the aforementioned teenager snort-laughing over that one.)

My interest in taglines began with a client project and my new health blog. Messaging is one of my spidey senses for others, but when it comes to my own stuff, spidey dead.

Asking those 5 questions up top narrowed down what to focus on.

Another thing that moved the needle on the work was reading lots of taglines. It’s best if you are familiar with the brand so you can decide, objectively, whether it works, and if it does, why? And how might that inform your words?

Bottom line, don’t put off writing a tagline for your business or products.

Why?

Let’s say someone lands on your website, www.MayWest.com, after searching for “business coach.” Up top there is a gorgeous photo of you in the header and “Hi, I’m May, and I want to be your coach.”

(I hope you would never do that)

Do they scroll to figure out why you are different, or bounce to find someone who tells them right up top?

What if your tagline was in the header? Something like, “Business Success, A Life In Balance”, if you are a work/life balance coach.

These short punchy words or sentences are worth gold when done well. Break the rules of grammar, have fun, get silly, and edit every word that doesn’t need to be there.

And if in fact this copywriting smells terrific, do let me know.  😉

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