Today’s post is by Simon Gornick, “The Tagline Machine,” a top content consultant and copywriter with over a decade of experience delivering lines to most of the top studios in Hollywood. You can reach him via his site at http://taglinemachine.com and follow him on Twitter at TaglineMachine. He’s new to the Twittersphere – so say hello!
What is a tagline anyway?
You’ve got four seconds to get your message across.
Taglines are industry speak for those catchy brand or product slogans that have been a staple of the advertising and marketing landscape for decades. They’re the text that’s at the sharp end of a marketing message, and good ones can drive logos, images and ideas home with audiences in a matter of seconds. These days, it’s not just big brands that have them. Increasingly, especially in the dog-eat-dog landscape of the Internet today, they’re part of the lexicon of small business and personal branding too.
Why (just about) everyone needs a tagline
Unless you’ve been living in a cave in a jungle on an uninhabited island in the Pacific, you’re well aware that the global economy is in a very serious funk. More and more people on this side of the pond have to strike out on their own with the only weapon at their disposal. The Internet.
Some choose that road, while others have it thrust upon them. But whoever you are, on the web means everyone starts as a teeny, tiny fish in a vast ocean. Getting noticed is everything. And that’s just the way it is.
If you look at your Internet content on a word-by-word basis, some of the biggest bang for your buck is right at the top of the page next to your logo. A good tagline tells me what you and your business is all about. It’s a critical part of the focus and engagement equation, and a great way to distract the audience from its endless flow of marketing distractions.
Unless you’re a big brand, you’ve got about 4 seconds to make an impact before a prospect gets click-happy. A tagline positioned just right can serve you proud.
When Logos get Lonely. (Sniff)
People respond to images with far more immediacy than they do to text. The brain just processes pictorial associations that much faster. But you don’t need four seconds to get a logo. You need one, maybe two tops, and you’re ready for the next piece of information.
Of course, there aren’t many logos and company names that capture all you need to know about a brand. That’s where the marketing slogan comes in. With the couple of seconds you have left before consumer dances off somewhere else you can deliver a great phrase that reinforces the graphic message of your logo or ad image.
Reinforcement can elevate enthusiasm and curiosity if the line matches an awesome logo, but more likely, a catchy slogan will help the save the day for a poor or average logo (which most are). The tagline can deliver wit, intelligence, connection and meaning to a “whatever” logo.
Nine times out of ten, your logo probably isn’t that good. Consider a strong tagline to give it a helping hand.
Personal Branding and Slogans. It’s All About Me.
The new entrepreneurial landscape doesn’t look kindly upon shrinking violets or boring people. We’ve go to be out there hawking our wares (in a nice, sharing-y kind of way, of course) rather than suppressing our inner carpetbagger. You have to be witty, irreverent, insightful, original, and on point, not just some of the time, but all the time. Taglines can really help in making those first impressions count and avoiding visitors to your site giving you a ‘swift click in the pants’.
Imagine you’re at a party and wearing a great line on a t-shirt. People read it and laugh and they’ll look at you and say, “Okay, you’re cool”. But if the line on the t-shirt shouts out “unfunny dork”, they’re gone.
When you’re branding yourself, your logo is probably a photo of you. Most of us aren’t blessed with movie star good looks, so a catchy slogan next to the picture can be a text driven “face-lift” to add a little extra fabulous.
The tagline might be a quote by you, the core of your insights, or even some grand scheme you have, but if it’s well written and not too bombastic, it can be the key to that all important virtual handshake with site visitors.
A sub-set of personal branding is blog branding. If you’re planning to monetize your blog, a great tagline can provide the overarching thought to the main thrust of your posts, constantly reinforcing the subject matter, themes and character of your work.
Taglines are great personal branding and blog differentiators. (Say that when you’re drunk, or bungee jumping.)
What are the dangers of bad taglines?
Great branding sloganeers get paid shed-loads of money to white board awesome, well-ideated, out of the box, ‘concepts’ that everyone up and down the chain or command agrees are just fab-tastic. But when those very expensive lines are plastered everywhere they can just as easily get a crap-tastic reception in the big wide world.
Bad taglines are a damaging waste of marketing time and real estate. If someone sees a landing page for the first time, checks out the tagline and goes “uhh?” then there’s definitely a problem. A great example of the “uhh?” is the classic…
Excellence through total quality.
Whatever that means.
Sometimes a tagline can do serious harm to a brand or business because double (and undesirable) meanings just take your mind down avenues the brand really doesn’t want you to travel.
We want you to live.
That’s very nice of you, Mobil.
Make 7-Up Yours!
How dare you, 7-Up! Up yours too!
Put together your own Tagline Hall of Shame as you research your brand’s line. Seeing what not do really helps get it right.
Before you settle on a line, try it out on lots and lots of real people. If people say “get it AND like it” keep line. If people just say “get it”, ditch line, If you get red flags all over the place, dump line but quick.
Where is a tagline a bad idea?
Corporate Lawyers probably don’t need a slogan, because they’re professionals whose bread and butter comes from reputation and referrals, but if you’re an ambulance chaser advertising on the back of a bus, a catchy slogan is probably a good way of differentiating yourself from the other ambulance chasers advertising on the back of other buses.
Just because everyone else has a tagline isn’t a good enough reason to get one of your own. It has to be something that works for your business.
Differentiation is a key area where business taglines and catchy slogans can really bring it. If you’ve got a site selling a product or service, it’s a sure thing there’s a bunch of other people doing something pretty similar, unless you’re an Arabian horse trainer, or a unicycling beat poet, in which case your business speaks volumes without a tagline.
Sadly, most of us aren’t vintage fire truck restorers or baroque marionette designers. So what makes you special? And don’t lie because your four seconds will be up real fast once the public bullshit detector is switched on.
I’m a good copywriter, but the thing that makes me special is that I think, sleep, eat and drink taglines. Erika is an excellent copywriter who specializes in bold, snarkified posts that keep it seriously real. She doesn’t just write, she rants and we can’t get enough of it.
It’s a no-brainer, but understand and feel what it is that makes your business special and, you know, kinda tagline that.
And coming soon…
Part 2 of this post – “The Definitive Do’s and Don’ts of Taglines” will wing its way right at you when Erika says it should.