Taglines: Rally cry or clever Hallmark?

Does your tagline send chills down the spine of your target customers - or does it elicit a collective 'hmm.' ... or maybe it's neither.

If you've never given much thought to the tagline or message at the top of your website banner or underneath your company logo - you may be surprised at how much is riding on this five to seven word phrase.

Now, if you are carrying a household moniker such as, Google or iPad - you may not have the need for such a descriptor, but I would guess that most companies could use the added punch and brand-driven messaging that a tagline can provide. 

But most businesses are uncertain how to most effectively use this short, power phrase. Should you stick to descriptive and competitive, should it be idealistic and visionary, should it be emotional?

From my experience, a tagline is most effective when it is always 2 things: Clever and Active.  Notice I didn't say descriptive.  

I've been at a few boardroom tables where a brainstorm session will begin by "bouncing ideas around" to see what sticks. While this is a great collaborative exercise, there needs to be a preceding conversation when it comes to picking taglines; about the audience and message goals of the company.

Here's a good place to start:

Step 1 - get to the core of the audience. Who will you be delivering your business card/website to? Their pain points, desires, what is the key message that will resonate with them? By the end of our Catalyst key message process, I usually have formulated 3-5 taglines for clients based on key learnings about their audience and their needs.

I.E. for a product hitting the direct consumer market, the message may resonate with more emotion; for an industry audience, expertise would  stand out. 

Step 2 - consider the function of the tagline in relation to your company name. Does the tagline need to be more descriptive? 

I.E. if your company name is Quantum Enterprises - no one will know what it is you do - might need to put in some added descriptors or key words.

Step 3 - does it leave an impression? Perhaps you are brand new to the market or have many competitors - this could be an opportunity to get creative, or even use humour to stand out. A clever tagline can say a lot about a company; confident, smart, tuned into their audience. Whatever you choose, you don't want yours to sound like it was picked from a hat.

I.E. 'smart  marketing solutions for today's business owner'.....   and you will help me how....?



Let's take an example of a former client of Catalyst - a networking website dedicated to helping women find female connections to improve their social life and expand their support networks. (our words, not theirs)

When they came to us, they had the clinical tagline of:

Connecting Women for Fun and Enjoyment of Leisurely Pursuits and Socialization

...hmmm... doesn't exactly tap into the emotional centre of women does it? Nor does it elicit any call to action. After further review of the company's goals and the target audience, we discovered that it was leaving out an important segment of target website users;  Those coming to the site for other needs besides 'fun and social' but those who were looking for support, volunteering, local interests, and a variety of other needs. We also used an appropriate verb to elicit action with just the right amount of emotion.

Finally, we narrowed down to:

Find connections for a reason, a season or a lifetime.


So, what does your tagline say about you - more importantly what does it inspire in your target customer? Whether it rallies them to take action or leaves them chuckling - you're already on the right track.

Photo by Aaron Burden on Unsplash