The Tagline: An Appreciation

Feb 26, 2015 Posted by Craig Joseph in Marketing

One of the biggest changes in my marketing career, since arriving at Cassel Bear, is how frequently I’m called upon to write taglines for clients: for their businesses, for events, capital campaigns, and more. While I like to think I’m an endless fount of creative and pithy marketing slogans, confident in my ability to wield words and write wonderful copy, the truth is that the well can run dry when I’m asked to produce often and repeatedly. A few hints I’ve learned to keep my marketing efforts fresh?

Don’t edit. Just keep things flowing. Sometimes it’s the three really awful taglines that generate the one really good one. Very often, it’s more a matter of momentum and being in the zone than only putting excellent taglines down on the page. It’s often better to have 50 and edit later versus coming to the end of an hour with only 10 that you’ve dissected until they have no life. Those 50 may give your co-workers and clients more to work with, perhaps improving upon your work as they riff.

The thesaurus is your friend. Sometimes you have the right idea, but the wrong word. In these moments, the single best tool to have on your desk or saved in your browser is the thesaurus. An added benefit: I easily learn 3-4 new words a week as I’m searching for the one that will pack a punch.

Don’t be afraid of wordplay. OK. I’ve accepted that, despite the fact that we have a home waterproofing client in central Ohio, I’m never going to get clearance to use a Homes-Holmes County pun in a tagline. BUT – that doesn’t mean there isn’t a place for puns, double meanings, homonyms and the like in a tag. Humor is a very subjective thing, so it should be used sparingly and purposefully in marketing efforts, but occasionally some levity and experimentation while writing yields something that magically fits the bill.

Read it aloud. Sometimes it looks great on the page, but sounds mealy in the mouth and rough on the ears. Don’t forget that the “heard” word is just as, if not more important than the “read” word.

You can always say it in fewer words. A good tagline is what it is because it packs so many thoughts, meanings, resonances, and associations into a short phrase. It’s poetry, not prose. Chances are you haven’t picked potent enough words if the most succinct manifestation of your marketing message is more than a few words.

A strong tagline that introduces and encapsulates your marketing message takes time to emerge, but these tips and tools will get you started – or encourage you to partner with Cassel Bear to make it happen!


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