When I went searching on Wikipedia for a definition of a tagline, this is what I found: “A variant of a branding slogan used in marketing and advertising. The idea behind the concept is to create a memorable phrase that will sum up the tone and premise of a brand or product (like a film), or to reinforce the audience’s memory of a product. Some taglines are successful enough to warrant inclusion in popular culture.”

Creating great taglines is a study unto itself. I was lucky enough to have a great marketing mentor, Leo, who taught me a whole lot more about taglines.

Now, this is what I teach my clients. A great tagline should:

1. Be three to five words at most.The shorter, the better! To be memorable, it’s got to be short. Leo taught me that a great tagline is like a great billboard … five words or less. If you need more words, you’re lacking clarity of message. People either won’t read it or they’ll read it but won’t remember it. Either way, it’ll lose impact.

2. Mean something to the customer first.A great tagline tells the customer what you stand for and what is your unique promise. It can and should be closely linked to your unique selling proposition so people know what they can hope to experience in a positive way by working with you.

3. Tell the staff what you promise and seek to deliver.A great tagline teaches the unique promise or unique selling proposition you are dedicated to making a reality. It’s a higher calling for all those on your staff. It helps them better understand why you do what you do.

Here are three quick rules to always follow when creating your tagline:

Rule No. 1: Keep it clean;

Rule No. 2: Keep it nonreligious and nonpolitical; and

Rule No. 3: It’s OK to tie it to the name if it’s not too corny.

The following are examples of really great taglines from customers I’ve worked with through the years. Some of them I helped create and some were my client’s own creation. They are all trademarked by each of them:

• Gold Medal Service: “Award Winning Service”

• Golden Rule Plumbing: “We obey the rules to live by”

• Forever Dry Roofing: “Here today. Dry forever”

• Precision Plumbing: “Is today soon enough?”

• SECCO Home Services: “Expert at your door”

Examples outside our industry:

• Target: “Expect More. Pay Less”

• Walmart: “Save Money. Live Better”

• Home Depot: “More Saving. More Doing”

• WebMD: “Better Information. Better Health”

To make a great tagline, it helps to have a great name. But even if you don’t have a great company name, you can rescue it with a great tagline. To do that, you must be crystal clear about what makes your company unique. A great way to gain clarity on what you do that creates distinction in the customer’s mind is to practice saying what is unique about you.


Elevator speech

To do that even better, imagine you’re in an elevator and you’re doing your elevator speech — what you would say to a stranger in the course of an elevator ride when they look over at your logo shirt or hat and ask, “What’s does your company do and why should I use you?” It has to be short, focused and  impactful to capture the essence of what makes your company distinctive.

So, what would you tell that person, in the time it takes the elevator to reach their floor, to imprint in their heads that the right choice for their home or business is you?

A good way to create an elevator speech — which will lead you back to creating a great tagline — is to create a bulleted list of all the great things you think your company does. Then, whittle it away by comparing yourself to your competition. The final list gets boiled down to your top three reasons why people should call you. Then, lead with your best.

At my company, Comfort Specialists, our tagline went like this, “Your Comfort is Our Concern.” So, my elevator speech went like this: “Your comfort is our concern. Doesn’t matter who we send, they’ll all work the same way because we have detailed manuals. We’re not coming to your home to learn our job because we’ve already been trained and certified in our own state-of-the-art training center. Want to come and see it?”

If you don’t have a great tagline already, start by boiling down your elevator speech to a three- to five-word tagline so you’re marketing message has clarity.

One last thing. Role-play your tagline and elevator speech endlessly until everyone at your company knows it and lives it. Then, watch the dollars flow your way.