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The secret of how to create a tagline that works

Sure, good writing is important when creating an effective tagline. But there are times when even the best-written tagline can fall flat. To avoid endless rounds of tagline review, the secret of how to create a tagline that works is to start with your brand promise.

Recently, a Denver manufacturing company approached a colleague and me with a tagline development project.

The company wanted to figure out how to create a tagline for one of its divisions, but the division’s executives were stuck.

They’d already partnered with two professional marketing agencies in Denver. Yet, despite the best intentions − not to mention, numerous rounds of creative review − neither agency had been able to develop a tagline that the company liked.

The problem wasn’t the writing.

Both agencies had followed good tagline writing practices.

Nonetheless, the taglines didn’t feel right. They weren’t connecting with the division’s leaders. The situation had become frustrating… and costly!

So what was the issue?

The heart of the problem was that the division’s leaders didn’t share a clear brand promise.

Each executive had his or her own interpretation of how the division offered value to customers. And because the leaders weren’t on the same page about what made their division special for customers, they couldn’t create a tagline that worked.

The best taglines start with a clear brand promise.

It doesn’t matter if you’re a member of a large executive team or you’re a small-but-mighty entrepreneur. If your brand promise is hazy or undefined, it can be a painful exercise to try to write a tagline.

And I’m talking paaaainful.

You end up wasting your time, frustrating your team, exhausting your budget… It ain’t pretty.

The secret of how to create a tagline that works is to take a step back and start with your brand promise:

  • Who is your target audience? I know this may seem like a basic question, but I’m surprised at how often it’s a difficult one to answer. I find that many companies have a tough time defining who their ideal customer is. As a result, they try to be all things to all people… and end up being nothing to anyone. The more specific you can be about who your ideal customer or client is, the better.
  • What is your claim to your target audience? This is the heart of your brand promise. Quite simply, if people use your product or service, what can they expect from your business? It can be helpful here to think in terms of Maslow’s hierarchy of needs. If you had to put your business on Maslow’s pyramid, how would you say your company helps people? Does your business offer safety? Personal fulfillment? Something else?
  • How do you deliver on your promise? It’s one thing to make a claim. It’s quite another thing to be able to back it up. Ask yourself, how do we walk the talk? Your “proof points” can become great marketing messages.

Once you have a clear understanding of your brand promise, it’s much easier to create a tagline that is memorable, meaningful and compelling. You’re much more likely to be “on point” with your brand.

Stepping back to take a step forward

In the case of the Denver company that couldn’t agree upon its tagline, my colleague, a brand strategist, helped the division’s leaders articulate their brand promise.

(It took a few iterations, but they got there!)

Once consensus had been reached around the division’s claim, I took over the creative reigns. I developed several tagline options, using the brand promise as my guide.

Because the division’s leaders had taken the time to develop their brand promise, they were excited about their tagline options. And, with input from the company’s chief brand officer, they selected a favorite.

Regardless of whether you run a big company or a small one, taking the time to define your brand promise can make all the difference in creating an effective tagline.

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Until next time!