April 13, 2010

Writing a Good Tagline


Hostway Team

By Melissa J. Luther

A tagline is not a brand in itself, but a good tagline can build brand awareness and help your company name stick in the minds of potential customers. Although not essential to a business, a tagline can help differentiate your business from the pack, especially in a crowded field.

What Makes a Good Tagline?

A good tagline is:

  • Short: Try to limit yours to no more than six or seven words; three or four is even better.
  • Simple: Use everyday words that your customers will understand. Avoid industry jargon.
  • Specific: “We’re the best” doesn’t actually say anything. Tell your prospects why they should choose you over your competition, preferably before they even think to ask the question.
  • Positive: Project a positive image. Negative taglines don’t work any better than negative campaign ads.
  • Appealing to your target audience: Even if you’ve met the above conditions, and you have what seems to be the perfect tagline, it won’t help you if your target audience is young-adult women but your tagline speaks to middle-aged men. As with all advertising (because that’s what a tagline is), identify your audience and then focus on their needs and wants.

Writing a Good Tagline

If all this seems like a tall order for a short phrase, don’t worry. It is doable by following these steps.

  • Brainstorm keywords: This is just like doing keyword research for Web site content. Write down every word you can think of that is related to an aspect of your business, including synonyms and even homophones (words that sound alike but are spelled differently). At this point, the more words you have, the better, so don’t edit yourself.
  • Brainstorm benefits and values: Now make a list of words that describe the benefits of your product or service, along with things a client might value about it. Is your product exclusive, contemporary, classic?
  • Combine words: See if you can combine two or more keywords, or keywords plus benefits and values, to create a descriptive phrase. Write down any you think of, again without editing yourself.
  • Pick your favorites: Now start editing. Go through your phrases, and consider how you can make them into a tagline, or if any work without modification. Narrow it down to two or three favorites.
  • Test your favorites on others: It’s important to get opinions of people outside your industry. Make sure they both like it and actually understand it.

Your final tagline should be specific enough to actually say something meaningful, but general enough to remain relevant as your business grows and expands. If it applies only to one product, it might be a good tagline for that product, but not for your whole business.

Remember, a tagline is not strictly necessary for every business, and not having one is better than a bad one. So don’t rush the process. Take your time, test and refine to come up with the perfect descriptor for your business.

About the author

Melissa J. Luther, owner and founder of LookSee Information Solutions, LLC, helps small businesses create and maintain a strong Internet presence. She takes a multi-channel approach, with a well-optimized Web site as the center of an Internet presence that includes content creation, PPC advertising, linking and social media as appropriate.

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