The Tagline – A Hidden Gem in the Branding Toolbox
Despite the emerging importance of brand image and identity in the professional and small to mid-sized business sectors, a golden opportunity may still be sitting in your branding toolbox collecting dust.
What’s a tagline? A short descriptive phrase, often accompanying your logo, which communicates the personality associated with your professional practice.
An original and relevant tagline grants you extraordinary ability to communicate something compelling about your professional practice on everything from your letterhead to your website to your marketing campaign.
As General Electric General Manager, Judy Hu, noted in accepting a 2005 Advertising Week award for her own company’s inspired tagline, “Imagination at Work is more than a tagline… It’s part of our DNA.”
Yet, despite the demonstrated power of well-known taglines like Volkswagen’s “Drivers Wanted”, Yellow Pages’ “Let Your Fingers Do the Walking” and Coca Cola’s “It’s the Real Thing”, the tagline is often overlooked in branding strategies for Architects, Engineers, Interior Designers, Chiropractors, Accountants, Veterinarians, Naturopaths and other professional practices.
Let’s explore seven essential steps to creating a powerful tagline for your professional practice.
Whether you are planning to develop your tagline by yourself or to hire a marketing consultant to write it for you, here are some helpful hints as you embark upon this process:
Writing a Powerful Tagline:
1. Keep it mercilessly short – Ideally, your tagline should range between one and three words. Remember Ikea’s first tagline, “Fits”? With one single word, it packed a punch that a string of words would be hard-pressed to match. This tagline invited us to visualize how Ikea product would not only assemble efficiently but also coordinate with any décor we had in mind.
2. Capture key messages and throw away the rest – The challenge is not to come up with a list of what your company does right, but rather, to trim down to the top one to three traits. The Reuters’ tagline “Know. Now.” is evocative because, despite all that they do right, they had the discipline to focus their message on two simple core strengths: speed and accuracy.
3. Choose your writing style, don’t let it choose you – Your tagline’s impact will largely be determined by your writing style. Think about the ever-famous Nike tagline – “Just Do It” works because it is casual and commanding, a style that is highly persuasive with the Nike audience.
4. Sleep on it – Once you have created a tagline, put it away. Come back to it with fresh eyes after a few days and decide whether or not it still delivers the impact that was originally envisioned.
5. Give it a road test – Once you have a keeper, test market it. Get feedback before you officially launch.
6. Incorporate the final tagline into your logo design – In order to maximize your new tagline’s impact, incorporate it into your logo design. Although it may be a key element of your logo’s creative direction, the tagline should always be treated as a secondary element in both size and prominence, to avoid confusion between your firm name and your tagline.
7. Update it – Yes. Notwithstanding the amount of time and energy that went into developing your tagline, update it, regularly.
Did you know that McDonald’s has used 23 different taglines, including the ever-famous “You Deserve a Break Today” and the current “I’m Lovin’ it”?
Taglines present us with the opportunity to renew branding strategies on an ongoing basis. Unlike a firm’s name, a tagline can be modified every three to five years without harming brand name awareness. You can use your tagline as an opportunity to leverage industry trends that are expected to be relevant for a number of years.
So, before you even consider initiating your branding strategy, remember the tagline. You will be positioned to benefit from opportunity that is often overlooked by other professional practices and small to mid-sized businesses.
You may be pleasantly surprised by the returns.