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Avoid These Mistakes When Creating Your Tagline

By Scott Seroka

Some taglines are really confusing.

I’ll admit that whenever I see Addidas’ tagline, Impossible is nothing, I can’t figure out what that means. I also wondered what McDonald’s was thinking when they promoted their new menu item with the tagline, Open your snack hole. And my favorite, most confusing tagline of all time was Blockbusters’ which was, No more late fees. The start of more.

In the manufacturing industry, there’s a company that, for a brief time, used the tagline, The true leader. And, a metal fabrication shop that simply says, Customization happens here.

Hmm.

This is what happens when the desire to be cute, witty, or even profound gets in the way of what a tagline is meant to do: provide a memorable and concise statement that sums up the essence of a brand.

If people you are targeting don’t understand your tagline, or if they need to think about what in the heck it means, or if it’s just meaningless, it’s not doing your brand any favors. And, it certainly isn’t helping you differentiate your business to win more business.

So, let’s talk about your company. I’m assuming you would benefit from having a tagline that tells people exactly why they should be doing business with you instead of with your competition.

If you’re in the process of developing a tagline for your company, avoid the other mistake of focusing on the mechanics of your business – in other words, what your company does in terms of your business model as well as your product and service offerings. The reason is that it is probably nearly identical to what your competitors do.

Instead, focus on the value you bring to customers, channel partners, and other stakeholders that is better or different from what your competition brings. Yes, it’s a tall order, it can be difficult, but it is necessary if you are serious about differentiating your brand and growing your sales.

Let’s go through a few examples:

Let’s start with the AVIS rental car company. What Avis does is rent vehicles, just like Budget, Hertz, Enterprise, and many others, hoping to get your business. However, the essence of the Avis brand – the value they provide, is going above and beyond, which was intelligently communicated through their tagline, We try harder.

Another example is Apple. What Apple does is design and manufacture cool computers and digital devices. However, the essence of Apple’s brand is challenging the status quo. They communicated in their prior tagline, Think different. The bonus to this tagline was that it was also a call to action for consumers. Brilliant.

One of the taglines we created was for Waukesha Bearings. After a full brand analysis, we discovered that the two primary values they brought to the table were expertise in engineering and results. As these were brand attributes they could back up with evidence ─ things they can consistently deliver on ─ their tagline of Expert Engineering. Proven Results. was both natural and perfect for them. No confusion there!

So, back to you. What is the essence of your brand?

If you manufacture gear drives, that’s what your company does. And, so does every other company that makes gear drives. This is precisely why defining your brand and adopting a compelling tagline is so essential to the success of your company.

It helps customers and channel partners understand precisely why they should be doing business with you. Without a proper tagline, they will have a harder time distinguishing between your company and others, and that could cost a sale. I think you would agree that’s a problem! 

This is the reason I firmly believe that decisions to buy and not buy are tied to a company’s brand.

Your value propositions should focus on those intangible traits or characteristics that you bring to the client relationship and experience, such as trade secrets, expertise, specializations, patents, accreditation’s, processes, business practices, awards, and other things that would interest potential customers.

So now it’s your turn.

What is a short, memorable, and concise statement that sums up the essence of your brand?

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