Shop Talk

Create slogans that are short, simple and clear

Rod Brown, president of Engine Brandmakers in Durham
Rod Brown, president of Engine Brandmakers in Durham

It looks simple. But writing an effective tagline for your company is one of the hardest branding tasks.

It is easy to write a bad or ineffective one, and challenging to create one that succinctly communicates everything about your brand. A tagline, sometimes referred to as a slogan, is an identifying phrase for your business that can be used everywhere you communicate your brand, such as your website and social media sites.

“To write a great tagline, you really have to have a solid strategic understanding of your business,” said Rod Brown, president of Engine Brandmakers in Durham. “A tagline is an encapsulation of everything you know about your brand, the category you compete in and the consumer you are talking to.”

Brown recommends seeking help from a branding or advertising agency. Choose one, he said, that will do the work necessary to understand your brand. The professional should then work with a core team of people at your company who know the brand and have a sense of creativity, he said.

The first step is to generate as many potential taglines as possible, Brown said. Then take some time to look them over and sit with them.

“You can have a list of hundreds of ideas and miss the really good ones on the first read,” Brown said. “You will know that you are on the right track when a tagline communicates the entire brand in as few words as possible. You want it to be true, simple and very clear.”

Brown says that typically shorter is better, and one of the biggest mistakes he sees is taglines that are too generic, which he compares to trucking companies that have slogans about their people making the difference. Since this sentiment applies to many companies in many industries, taglines such as those don’t communicate or distinguish the brand.

“If another brand can be parked on top of a tagline, then you shouldn’t use it,” Brown said.

He also recommends not testing a tagline with customers before rolling it out.

“The last thing you want to do is take a tagline into a focus group,” Brown said. “To really communicate the brand, a tagline must be created by people who really understand what the brand is.”

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