If you’d prefer to watch a video version of this post, you can find it on crowdspring’s YouTube channel here: The Small Business Guide to Crafting the Perfect Tagline or Slogan.
As we wrote previously in 10 Tips for Naming Your Startup or Small Business, coming up with a great business name for your new small business or startup can be challenging and time-consuming. Coming up with a memorable business tagline can present an even more significant challenge.
A tagline is supposed to communicate to your customers and potential customers what sets you apart from your competition and your brand’s focus. It plays a vital role in your company’s or organization’s brand identity.
You’ve probably seen and heard some of the most influential taglines of the past 50 years:
Got milk? (California Milk Processor Board) – 1993
Just do it (Nike)- 1988
Think different (Apple) – 1998
The ultimate driving machine (BMW) – 1975
Why did those taglines capture a broad audience’s attention, and how did each become so memorable?
Money provides a partial answer. Each of the companies/organizations that promoted one of the above taglines spent vast sums of money establishing their brand identity – and the slogan.
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You can leverage crowdspring’s community of more than 220,000 to come up with your business tagline, or you can come up with one on your own.
Here are ten tips to help you craft a strong business tagline:
1. Make the tagline unique
Unsuccessful taglines often are too generic. If your competitor can use your tagline and it would still work well for them – you should keep working on the tagline until you find something that only you can uniquely use.
2. Make the tagline simple
You wouldn’t want to have a complicated company name, so why would you create a complicated tagline? An excellent way to test for simplicity is to ask your friends, family, and new acquaintances whether they understand what your company does after seeing or hearing your tagline.
3. Make the tagline concise
The best taglines explain what your company does and are short. Worry less initially about how the tagline sounds and focus first on a rough statement – you can always tweak until you get it just right. Aim for no more than five worlds. Five words are easier to remember than 20 words.
4. Make the tagline timeless
As tempting as hip taglines are, they will quickly become dated. There’s a reason each of the above taglines from Nike, Apple, and BMW has survived the test of time – they’re simple and timeless.
5. Keep the tagline consistent
One mistake companies make is to regularly change their taglines because they become tired of their current taglines and think that their customers and potential customers have become tired of that tagline. This is a mistake and can lead to confusion. If your tagline works – even if you think it’s boring – stick with it if it’s working well for you.
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6. Keep the focus on your audience, not on your company
The most memorable taglines are about your customers, not about your company. If you focus your tagline on your company, your customers will wonder how it relates to them.
On the other hand, by focusing on your customers – you’ll create a stronger brand association. Nike’s “Just do it” and Apple’s “Think Different” are great examples of focusing on customers and potential customers.
One common mistake companies make is to make promises in their taglines (which put the focus on the company). Don’t make promises – communicate benefits instead.
7. Keep the tagline relevant to your company’s audience
The memorable taglines above are sexy but not very descriptive. They’re notable in part because each company/organization spent vast sums of money marketing and used those taglines in their marketing.
Since you probably don’t have access to the same marketing budgets, your goal should be different. It would be best to use your tagline to identify what you do and recognize the benefit to your customers.
8. Make sure your business tagline matches your other branding
Many entrepreneurs and small businesses think that a logo is the company’s brand.
A logo is a part of what defines a brand.
A tagline, like a logo, helps to define your brand.
Ensure that the style, voice, and other elements of your tagline match the style, voice, and other aspects of your logo design. Because your tagline will be part of your overall branding, you’ll want the tagline to reflect your company’s personality.
9. Keep the tagline positive
There’s a considerable body of research showing that negative statements generally don’t sell very well. Negative messages tend to do better when consumers are pressed for time, whereas positive messages are more suitable for brand building over a long period.
Here’s an excellent short read about a study from Stanford about this. Because taglines reflect the brand over time, it makes sense to keep your tagline positive and focus on benefits.
10. Inject the appropriate personality.
Insurance companies speak with a different voice than software companies. That’s OK. Keep in mind your company’s voice and personality, and make sure that the tagline reflects that voice and personality.
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