Ainslie Murray is just one of the many clever (and super busy) cookies that took the time to contribute to our Calling the shots ebook so take note as she shares her tips on writing a killer tagline, as told in her own words.
Nike said ‘just do it’, Apple told you to ‘think different’ and when someone asks you where the happiest place on earth is, you better be thinking Disneyland.
A good tagline can quite literally make or break a brand. It’s that simple.
So, no pressure or anything.
Taglines, straplines, slogans – call them what you will – are often too complex and resoundingly underwhelming. But, when you nail a good tagline, great in fact, actual magic happens. A stellar tagline will capture the essence of your entire brand and shine a light on the value you offer consumers in one cleverly concise sentence.
There are three things that are the difference between a mediocre and a memorable tagline: clarity of message (clear and concise all the way), creativity (obvs) and familiarity with the brand. Taglines that are more brand appropriate will always be deemed more likeable.
Crafting a winning tagline is a struggle that many entrepreneurs armed with big vision and high hopes are faced with. It certainly ain’t easy. Often taglines fall short and it’s usually when people spend too much time focusing on what their product or service is as opposed to what it actually offers. The best taglines are those that are simple and memorable, but they are also functional.
Here are eight trusty tips to help you create a tagline worth its weight in gold. All you’ll need is a blank sheet of paper and a pen, or your lappy. To be honest, I think the old-fashioned note making technique of the dark ages is best when first nutting out a tagline. If you give a tagline the attention it so rightly deserves, it can be completely transformative. Better yet, it can establish a rock-solid foundation for a new brand or campaign and play a major role in influencing first impressions and perceptions in your favour.
Like I said, no pressure.
- FIRST THING’S FIRST, BE CLEAR ABOUT YOUR MISSION.
To begin with, be clear, not clever. Start building a tagline with the purpose of your brand in mind. Decide what you have to offer. Are you creating a new product? Are you selling a service? Do you run an e-comms store? Pinpoint your brand focus and work from there as a starting point.
- WRITE DOWN WORDS. ALL THE WORDS.
Every word you can think of and anything that comes to mind about your brand – pen it! Create a list of words that float your boat and consult a thesaurus but be mindful not to get bogged down in complex alternate terms for common words. The best taglines don’t read like a poetic prose, they’re simple words combined in a succinct way that makes you sit up and pay attention.
- BE A STORYTELLER.
What’s your brand story? What gets you feeling the warm and fuzzies when you describe or think about what it is you do? Whatever it is, that’s your positioning. Your logo and tagline should communicate precisely that feeling. Communicating a feeling as a written word can sometimes be challenging but keep penning your thoughts, there is no wrong answer in this process. Your creative juices should be breaking banks by this stage.
- COMMUNICATE WITH THE UTMOST CLARITY. NOBODY LIKES A FLAKE.
Make sure your tagline provides a clear picture of your brand. Branding is all about concise clarity. Most people try and be far too cute. Ick. Be clear, say what it is you have to offer, what it is you actually mean. Don’t beat around the bush, say it well and with inspiring confidence.
- SPOTLIGHT YOUR BENEFITS AND STRENGTHS.
Your product is a killer. Your service beats the rest. You want everyone to know that, right? Yes. Think about what it is you can say about the benefits and strengths of your product or brand? Is it quicker, bigger, more reliable or cost-effective? Will it shave ten years off? Save you time? Or make you happy? Explore the descriptive benefits and obvious strengths, and keep writing them down.
- PLAY WITH PHRASES.
You should have a solid list of words by this stage (and some major RSI in that wrist from the manic jotting). Start teaming your words together in phrases. Your goal here is quick communication rather than trying to be clever. Clever sentences and puns are great for advertising tactics, but a tagline needs to be direct. There is nothing clever about ‘just do it’, but it has power. Don’t get into wordplay and idioms – keep it powerful and truthful.
- BE RUTHLESS AND CULL (AND DON’T YOU EVEN FEEL BAD ABOUT IT).
By this stage, you should have a tonne of worthy options in front of you. Too many to know what to do with. Start testing each option out. Does it have legs? Will it translate cross-platform? Does it need to be explained, or will people just get it? Keep culling until you have a handful of this-could-be-the-one options.
- SLEEP ON IT. THEN, SLEEP ON IT AGAIN.
There will most certainly be some stand-outs and crowd faves when you run them past your friend gang, but only fools rush in. Let them sit and brew overnight. Rush it and you will ruin it. One will stand out above the others; likely the one you had never really considered.
Once you pick your winner, it should start opening up ideas on where you can take your advertising and marketing campaigns and well folks, as they say, the rest is history.