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Larry Chase
Larry Chase is publisher of the Web Digest For Marketers and author of the best-selling book Essential Business Tactics for the Net.


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Web Digest For Marketers


Larry Chase


Tips On Taglines


2001 Larry Chase

Tips on Taglines

Ever notice how most taglines are generic in meaning? Not only can competitors use most taglines interchangeably, but companies in other categories can and do use the same ones as well.

The hardest thing for people to market is themselves or their companies. They're just too close to the product.

For years I worked on Madison Avenue, helping companies establish their positions and taglines, among other things. It's also some of what I do nowadays with firms and people who take the Larry Chase Check-Up By Phone.


A tagline is suppose to telegraph to those who don't know you what it is that sets you apart. This is hard in a field like packaged goods, where there is "screaming parity." That is, most products that compete against each other are very similar in features, pricing, packaging, etc. But in every other category, you can usually find a USP (Unique Selling Proposition). Out of that USP should come your tagline that sets you apart from everyone else and tells the unknowing prospect what your focus is.

One problem I see constantly is people try to keep their taglines too general, to serve as a catch-all in the hopes of not alienating some prospects. This is where the tagline exercise gets painful, as you have to decide from the get-go what you're not going to say and do. Instead of a catch-all, taglines that are too general serve to catch nothing.

Top-Ten Tagline Tips

Here are my "Top-Ten Tagline Tips" to help you devise a tagline that sets you apart from the rest.

1. Ask yourself if your competitor can "wear" your tagline. If they can, change it until only you can wear it.

2. Ask perfect strangers if they understand your business after seeing and hearing your tagline.

3. Write down taglines that flatly explain what you do. Don't worry about how slick they sound. You can always fine tune them later.

4. Collect other people's taglines that you like and examine what makes them work. Then apply that learning to the making of your tagline.

5. Before writing a tagline, figure out what your 150-word elevator pitch is. If you can't get your USP into a one-minute speech, you'll not be able to get it into seven or ten words.

6. Read "Focus" by Al Reis and "Realities in Advertising" by Rosser Reeves. Also, "Positioning: The Battle For Your Mind" by Trout and Reis.


7. Stay away from flip or hip sounding taglines. They will soon sound dated, and an international audience may not get the double entendre or idiom upon which it's based.

8. Must your tagline be slick-sounding? If you're selling running shoes, maybe yes. If you're selling die-casting equipment, decidedly not.

9. Is a tagline always essential? No. Especially if the name of your firm is self-explanatory.

10. Should you invent new words to be used in your tagline? Maybe yes, maybe no. You run the risk of dating yourself, or being misunderstood. But if it's the type of word that people love to say (sometimes called "playback") then you may want to consider this tricky option, but test the daylights out of it before you commit to it.

Bonus Tip: Don't change your current tagline just because you're tired of it. If people understand it and it serves you well, don't muddy the waters by confusing them with a new one unless absolutely necessary.

AdSlogans.com -- Wise Words/12


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