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Creating a tagline: 3 essential steps before you start writing

So, you want to create the best tagline for your company. Before you jot down ideas or look for a tagline writer, there are three steps to take first. You’ll create a much better tagline and eliminate a lot of headaches!


The best taglines are like delicious cookies. They linger fondly in people’s minds, long after the last bite. Ideally, your company tagline leaves a memorable and positive association with your brand!

But creating a tagline?

Forget cookies and sugar plum fairies. It can be easy to get derailed quickly – from going through round after round of tagline drafts, to writing a tagline that doesn’t do anything for your company.

To create the best tagline you can and make tagline development as easy and painless as possible, it’s essential to…


Step #1: Figure out what makes your business special.

A pencil that stands out form the crowdIt sounds so simple, right?

I mean, of course you know what makes your business special!

Not so fast.

Skipping this step is the biggest mistake I see companies make when creating a tagline.

Do any of the following scenarios sound familiar to you?

  • You have several ideas about what makes your business special, but you don’t have one, focused idea.
  • You know what makes your company special, but your competitors say the exact same thing.
  • You know what makes your business special, but your team doesn’t agree. You don’t have consensus.

It doesn’t matter if you’re a large company or a one-person business. It’s essential to take the time to figure out the unique way that you create value for your customers.

What to consider

When figuring out what makes your business special, you want to focus on an element that:

  • Your customers care about and value.
  • Is unique and authentic to your business.
  • Is memorable and distinct.
  • Is not a tired idea or a marketing cliché. (Unfortunately, “great customer service” and a “commitment to excellence” fall into the category of overused ideas.)

Some marketing experts will call this idea your brand promise. Others will call it your unique value proposition. Ultimately, it doesn’t matter what you call it as long as you know what your “it” factor is.

How does your tagline fit in here?

Your tagline should reflect your brand promise. Your tagline should be the essential thing that you want people to think and feel about your company. You want your brand promise and your tagline to align.

For example…

If you are a technology company that is a leader in innovation, a good tagline may describe breaking free from the status quo.

Apple | Think Different

If you are a restaurant company that is a leader in compassionate sourcing practices, you want your tagline to reflect your passion.

Chipotle | Food with Integrity

If you are a leader in creating measurable business value for your customers, your tagline should follow suit.

Gates Fluid Power Division | Progress Made Measurable

What if you aren’t clear on your unique value?

When you aren’t clear on the unique value you bring to your customers, then tagline creation can become an exercise in futility.

It can become time consuming, frustrating and expensive to come up with the best tagline ideas because you haven’t decided what you want people to think about your business. You can end up going through draft after draft.

Tip: If you’re in a “we’ll know it when we see it” mode when creating a tagline, you probably aren’t clear on the unique value you bring to your customers.

Even worse, you may come up with tagline ideas that can actually hurt your business.

I recently learned of a small business that has a tagline highlighting its attention to detail. The problem is, while the company has a lot of strengths, its employees are not detail-oriented. This company is creating a disconnect with its customers. Its customers expect something they aren’t going to receive.

Why set yourself up to miss your customers’ expectations?

Creating a great tagline – with the least amount of stress – starts with agreeing upon what makes your business special for customers!


Step #2: Check out your competitors’ taglines.

Online Tagline Research

You want your tagline to differentiate your business, right?

The easiest way to find out where there are opportunities to stand out from the crowd is to check out your competitors’ taglines.

Visit their websites, and make a list of their taglines.

What you gain: Insight!

  • First, you’ll be able to determine which positioning ideas are already taken. You want to focus on a fresh idea using different words than your competitors.
  • Second, you’ll be able to determine how your competitors are positioning themselves. For each competitor, ask yourself, which element of their business are they highlighting for potential customers? In looking at your competitors’ websites — as well as their taglines — are they strategic and focused in their messaging, or are they all over the place? This analysis will give you a sense of how hard you have to work to in your branding efforts to stand out from the crowd.
  • And third, you’ll see the types of taglines that your competitors are using. Maybe their taglines are provocative questions… or descriptive statements of their businesses … or aspirational statements for their customers. While you can certainly follow a similar format, you may choose a different type of tagline to set your business apart.

When you conduct competitive research before you start writing a tagline, you can avoid duplicating an idea from your rivals.


Step #3: Decide how you’re going to use a tagline.

Making a Decision

Most companies use taglines (or slogans) in their advertising.

With television commercials, for example, companies often use their taglines at the very end of their ads.

Here are just a few taglines you may have seen recently…

Proctor & Gamble (P&G) | Proud Supporter of Moms

Chrysler | Imported from Detroit

Coca-Cola | Open Happiness

But including a tagline in your ads is not the only way you can use a tagline.

Alternative tagline uses

I have a client who is working his way into the “expert industry” in financial counsel. He needed a tagline that he could use to serve as his catch phrase. He wanted his tagline to quickly highlight why he was unique when reaching out to the media.

Others in his industry already have their unique slogans: “the financial advisor for couples” or the “get rich fast” financial planner.

This catch phrase trend is also common in the world of culinary arts. For example, many expert chefs who are prominent on television have their own catch phrases: the “30-minute chef,” the “Southern chef,” or the “Barefoot Contessa.”

This is a slightly different use for a traditional tagline.

As a tagline writer, it’s incredibly helpful to know upfront why you want a tagline and how you’re going to use it.

The more clear you can be before you start writing, the more you can expect to receive tagline ideas that are in tune with your vision… And that means fewer drafts and lower costs!


Want more ideas to create a great tagline? Check out these articles:

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Publish date: August 22, 2012