Writing an Effective Tag Line

Creating a Catchy Slogan for Your Small Business

Once the key benefit of business has been determined, it is time to turn it into a tag line or slogan.

Now is the time to play with words. Turn the benefit into a catchy phrase that can be used along with the logo in all ads. The phrase must be memorable because it is the central theme of the campaign – a promise that is associated with the business name and logo.

Try Brainstorming

Gather together a few friends and lay down the ground rules for brainstorming. See the previous link for more on how to brainstorm effectively. The group’s job is to try to come up with a snappy, or simple, or memorable but easy way to communicate the key benefit to the public. They can say anything that pops into their heads, no matter how stupid it may seem. Often the silliest remarks are the ones that give someone else in the group inspiration.

Write everything down. Then compare them with the campaign objective – communicating the main benefit or promise – and see what happens.

Some Helpful Hints.

  • The tag line should be short. People should be able to remember it easily. Make it brief enough to fit onto a business card or even an advertising pen. Remember that outdoor advertising can use only 14 words to be readable – and that includes the business name as well as the promise. Linguistic devices such as rhyme or alliteration often help. Don’t overdo it and have every word in an 8-word slogan start with the same letter. But consider the rhyme and rhythm of a tag like “Everything’s Better With Blue Bonnet On It”’. A hint of alliteration, a bit of internal rhyme and an extremely memorable tag line.
  • Don’t forget that the benefit offered can be psychological. If people will feel more important, thriftier, more sophisticated or secure, let them know.
  • Avoid trite and overused claims. “Unique” is a word that should be abolished from all ads other than those that offer something that is truly one of a kind. “Give the gift of” is so overused that it is totally trite, as is “Experience the ___ (fill in the blank.)
  • Another overused claim is that the business offers quality goods at a reasonable price. Ninety-nine percent of all small businesses want to make this their main claim – which means that they are not setting themselves apart from their competitors. Aside from that, bragging about prices and goods is ignoring the audience and what they want – savings, perhaps, or comfort, or luxury. The business owner knows his or her audience and should have a pretty good idea of what they want from the business.
  • Avoid imprecise words. Instead of saying that something is good, or different, tell us how or why. This implies an element of proof that makes a claim more believable. Certs didn’t tell us they made a better breath mint. They told us why – it had that sparkling drop of resin. (Which was actually a sparkling drop of vegetable oil – but hey – the public bought it!)

  • Make sure the slogan sets the business apart from competitors. If its only meaningful key benefit is one that the competition is already promising, say it differently. Focus on what the customer gets rather than what the business has. For instance, if two local CD shops have similar selections and price structures they could both claim to have the lowest price in town. If one claims “Top Rock at Rock Bottom Prices” then the other could claim “More Hits for Less Cash.”
  • Make sure that the business can live up to the campaign promise (the tag line). Honesty is crucial in advertising. To lie, or even slightly mislead can backfire when a new customer takes the trouble to walk in (a big first step) and finds that things do not live up to what was promised. They will walk right back out, feeling cheated.
  • Make sure that the tag line makes a promise that benefits all major target audiences. A tag line shapes the general theme of an ad campaign, around which all of the ads will be built. Specific targeting comes through individual ads that feature products and or services that benefit a specific sub-group of the business’s market. But the tag line speaks to all the target markets.
  • Don’t try to target everyone. Look at the people who already patronize the business. Is this a group that can be expanded with better ads? Is there a secondary group – perhaps seasonal (Such as men at holidays in lingerie shops, jewelers, etc., or teens in bridal shops at prom time) that might be reasonably expected to do business there? No one business can please everyone so concentrate on those demographic groups of people who are most likely to want what the business has to offer given its location and personality.