THE TAGLINE CONUNDRUM

I stunned a client recently by telling them that I didn’t think they needed a tagline. If you’re not familiar with the term, it’s a brief phrase that is supposed to crystallize what makes your business unique, different, or interesting. It’s similar to a slogan, and the best taglines tend to be on the clever side. Some even use wordplay.

There’s a belief out there that every business must have a tagline, and I’m not sure why. I suspect one of the reasons is the success that Nike had with “Just do it.” On many occasions, companies have asked me to develop taglines that will be just as impactful and memorable as Nike’s. Usually, I’ll politely turn down the work.

What made “Just do it” such an iconic phrase had less to do with the any of the three words in it, and everything to do with the gazillions of dollars Nike spend on consumer advertising that highlighted that phrase.  I can make your tagline every bit as recognizable as Nike’s — all you have to do is hand me several gazillion dollars to promote it. But if you’re not willing to spend that kind of money, don’t expect that level of results.

Does your business really need a tagline? If you answer affirmatively, my next question will be “why?” And if your response is that you’re “supposed to have one,” I’ll suggest that you skip the effort. Unless there’s a compelling reason to have a tagline, it becomes an extra appendage hanging out on the bottom of ads, signs, and whatever else you produce. It takes up space and pulls the reader’s attention away from the rest of your message.

If a tagline does something to make your messages more effective, develop one. But if not, don’t fall prey to the “we’re supposed to” argument.

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2 Responses to THE TAGLINE CONUNDRUM

  1. Janice Whittington April 11, 2013 at 12:19 pm #

    Its not necessarily needing to have a “tagline”, but to be able to give someone, anyone, from total stranger to family member….a short, sweet (maybe or maybe not)….who and what I “am” that is key to promoting your business and yourself. That so called elevator intro or 20 second “commercial” that can open the door to further interaction with someone. It may actually need to be taught to everyone, just for the sake of those that are too used to texting and facebook for their “interaction”!

    • Scott April 11, 2013 at 12:38 pm #

      Well said, Janice! It’s amazing how many people can’t provide that quick explanation of what they do. Thanks for the comment!