Last week we discussed how to write a brand statement to create a bank of language for marketing your small business.  That brand statement can be distilled into various lengths for other content.  This week, we are addressing the tagline.

A tagline is a short description with clarifying, memorable information about your brand.

When I work with clients to draft a tagline, the first question I ask is “if people heard your business name or saw your logo by itself, would they know what you do?”  The answer to this question may change the way you approach your tagline.

A tagline is a short description with clarifying, memorable information about your brand. Click To Tweet

Some of us have built in product/service clarity in our business name or branding, in which case the tagline can add description such as HOW we do what we do or the values behind the business.  However, if your business name or logo does not give the consumer enough information about your product or service, you may want to use your tagline functionally to help connect the dots.

Think of a company like Nike that has successfully marketed their brand so the words “Just Do It” or the Swoosh immediately conjures the company name in your mind.  Nike went out on a limb by using an image, a tagline, and a brand name that do not necessarily tell you what they do (outside of the clue that “Nike” is the Greek goddess of victory).  However, they have a significant marketing budget and team to back up their efforts.  They have created consistent, effective advertising campaigns throughout the years that built equity in their brand and helped us form patterns in our brains around their logomark and tagline.

It takes time to build that kind of equity in your branding, so – again – use your tagline wisely to give your customers the information they need to know to understand that they are your intended audience.

Here are a few tips to help you distill your brand statement into a catchy tagline.

  • Keep your tagline to six words or fewer. The shorter, the simpler, the more memorable.
  • Try one of these stylistic strategies – you might even try drafting one of each to bank a variety of options:
    1. Functional – Tell your audience what you do in a short, punchy description (great if your business name is an acronym or if what you do is unclear).
    2. Values – Share two or three key values. If your audience knows what you do, try adding information for them about WHY you do it.
    3. Adjectives – Share two or three adjectives that have meaning for your brand.  If your audience knows what you do, you can separate your business from your competitors by telling them HOW you do it.
  • Now that you have drafted some taglines, let’s take it one step further. Write each tagline on a separate piece of paper.  Circle all the major words.  Now, draw a line from those words and write three more words – synonyms – for each.  Very often I see clients get stuck on particular words as they draft a tagline.  Doing an exercise like this shows you just how many options you have to find interesting ways to say the same thing.
  • You have now created an array of taglines for your business. Use the thesaurus you have just built and play around with new combinations of the words.
  • Ask your target market! Once you have options for taglines, if you have access to some people in your target market you should get their feedback.  What resonates the most to them?  Give them two or three of your favorite options and ask them for their opinion on what strikes them the most.  You would be amazed how strongly people react to their favorites or least favorites.

And lastly, there are a few principles to remember that may help narrow down your options to a few favorites:

  • Keep your tagline simple. I can’t say it enough.  The shorter, the snappier, the more it can hook your audience.
  • Keep it consistent. Be consistent with the essence of your brand and your other collateral.
  • Keep it timeless. It takes budget and time to rebrand.  If you do not have that budget or time, make sure to consider the staying power of the words you have chosen.
  • Keep the focus on your audience. What do your CUSTOMERS need to know from you to understand that this message is for THEM?  Tell them in your tagline.
Keep your tagline simple. #marketing #smb #smallbusiness #smallbiz #business #biztips Click To Tweet

If golden words do not drip off your pen right away, it is okay.  Better to spend time on this exercise and even spend time sitting with the results before you print it all over your collateral!  Good luck!

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