23 July

How to Pick the Right Tagline for Your Business

Did you eat “The Breakfast of Champions” today? Was your coffee “Good to the Last Drop”? Many of us may recognize these taglines from two famous brands – Wheaties cereal and Maxwell House coffee.

According to Entrepreneur.com’s Small Business Encyclopedia, a tagline can be defined as  “A catch phase or small group of words that are combined in a special way to identify a product or company.”

This article by Laura Lake titled “The Marketing Definition of a Tagline” also give a helpful description:

“That’s a tagline, a short, memorable description that–hopefully–becomes something like a public earworm, getting stuck in people’s brains. A good one may be used for years to come, tossed into conversations as a long-living reminder of the product [it’s] attached to.”

The moment I hear the words “good to the last drop,” I immediately think of Maxwell House coffee. And “The Breakfast of Champions” tagline reminds me of old commercials from the late ‘80s and early ‘90s where basketball player Michael Jordan would say, “You better eat your Wheaties.” In fact, I used to quote that commercial at school, saying, “I’d better eat my Wheaties before that exam.”

Screenshot via https://www.wheaties.com/

In our Freelance 101 course, co-founder and instructor Craig Cannings explains that as a freelancer or virtual assistant, you are a brand too. And your tagline uniquely identifies your business so it can become a household name.

But how do you choose the right tagline? Here are four steps you can follow:

1. Brainstorm what your business is all about.

When creating your tagline, Craig says the big question is “What kind of brand do you want to convey?” Or “What do you want your business to be known for?” First you need to step back and take a close look at yourself and your business. Understand who you are and what you do.

Some key ingredients that make up your brand are

• Your unique personality traits
• Your values
• Your passions
• Your skills and experience
• Your target market

In an article titled “How To Write a Great Tagline For Your Company,” Paul Suggett also recommends listing your strengths and weaknesses to spark ideas. For example, Avis Car Rental used the tagline “We Try Harder,” acknowledging that they were a smaller company than Hertz.

At this stage you might want to use an online tool like MindMeister to visualize your thoughts.

Screenshot via https://www.mindmeister.com/

2. Describe your business in a few sentences.

After you’ve brainstormed the key ingredients that make up your brand, pick out some words and phrases from your brainstorming and mould them into a brief description. You can think of it as the type of description you’d include on an About Page or a LinkedIn profile, about five or six sentences.

As you create your description, focus on these elements:

• What you do (the main purpose of your business)
• What services you offer
• What clients you work for

Michael Luchies gives some good advice in his article “The 8 Characteristics of a Perfect Tagline: Picking the Right Motto or Slogan for Your Small Business.” He says,

“One of the simplest and most important characteristics of a great tagline is that it aligns with the brand it’s associated with. Your brand isn’t just the name of a business, a logo, or a building; it’s a cohesive collection of everything your company does and represents to the world. Your tagline is a piece of that, and it has to fit in with everything else your brand stands for.”

He stresses the importance of making sure your tagline represents your brand properly and flows with the name of your business. For instance, the tone should match the lightheartedness or seriousness of your brand. Ali the Happy VA is an example of a company whose name and brand inspire a lighthearted tagline.

3. Edit your description down to two or three sentences.

This process is good practice for editing content. Your goal is to make your description as concise as possible so you can grab its essence. Now that you have five or six sentences, try whittling them down to two or three sentences. Sometimes at this stage you might even end up with one long sentence.

Here’s an example that Craig provides, describing his personal brand:

Screenshot via https://my.freelanceu.com/courses/freelance-101

If we consider the Wheaties cereal example, we could craft a short description like this:

“Wheaties is a hearty, satisfying breakfast cereal to help people start their day off right. It gives athletes and sports champions the energy and strength to succeed.”

And if we think about Maxwell House coffee, we could say,

“Maxwell House strives to provide quality coffee products that taste good from the first sip to the last drop at the bottom of the mug.”

As you can see, the taglines for these last two brands are hidden in the descriptions. It’s simply a matter of manipulating the phrasing to tease them out.

4. Trim your description into a bite-sized phrase or sentence.

In the Maxwell House and Wheaties descriptions above, I worked backwards from the taglines. But let’s pretend we’ve never heard their taglines before so we can watch them emerge from the longer sentences.

And a word of warning for this stage – As Charles Gaudet advises in his article, “How To Craft A Powerful Tagline For Your Business,” you don’t need to worry about creating a tagline that’s “overly clever or cute.” People just need to be able to decipher what you do and what your value is. At the same time, he advises injecting a little personality into your tagline.

But as you inject personality, try to resist the urge to make your tagline a joke. In Paul Suggett’s article, he says a tagline is “not an attempt to make people laugh; it is something that should make people think of your company and what your product or service represents when they hear or see the tagline.”

The same could be said for taglines that are negatively political or shocking. Be sure that your taglines are memorable for positive reasons.

So, turning to our Wheaties example, what phrases can we pull out of these two sentences?

“Wheaties is a hearty, satisfying breakfast cereal to help people start their day off right. It gives athletes and sports champions the energy and strength to succeed.”

We could come up with a few possible taglines:

• “Hearty, satisfying breakfast cereal”
• “Breakfast energy for athletes”
• “Cereal for success”

And from the Maxwell House example, we could pull out these phrases:

• “Quality coffee that tastes good”
• “Good from the first sip to the last drop”
• And the actual tagline, “Good to the last drop”

With your own tagline, you’d just continue to follow this process, whittling down the description into one bite-sized sentence or phrase that distinguishes you.

Since we already know that Wheaties chose the phrase, “The Breakfast of Champions,” it’s easy to see why it’s a great tagline. First, it’s short and succinct – very catchy and memorable. Second, who doesn’t want to feel and perform like a champion when they eat breakfast? And how many cereals can boast that? In just a few words, Wheaties has communicated its value and how it’s distinct from other cereals.

Screenshot via https://www.wheaties.com/history/

The Wheaties website explains the origin of its tagline:

“In the 1930s, testimonials from athletic greats like Lou Gehrig and 46 of the 51 players on the 1939 Major League All-Star team turned the modest wheat flake into something of a legend. It was what you ate if you wanted to be like the professionals. They even revamped the product to match the marketing, truly making it The Breakfast of Champions.”

Sometimes your tagline finds you. But if not, you can create the ideal one for your business using the steps we’ve outlined in this quick guide. As Craig says in the Freelance 101 course, we should think of taglines as a “Mini Mission Statement.” In a few catchy words, they communicate what we do, what we’re all about, and the benefit that we offer clients.

Have you found it difficult to create a tagline for your freelance or virtual assistant business? Please share your thoughts in the comments below. And If you’ve already created a tagline, we’d love to hear any tips or strategies that worked for you!

One thought on “How to Pick the Right Tagline for Your Business

  1. B. Allen Thobois

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