A note from Lis: Tag lines can cause stress, anxiety and angst for new business owners who believe (mistakenly) that they have to have the “perfect” snappy line at the start of their business. What many fail to understand is that tag lines can – and should – be modified as the business grows and changes.
Another misconception is what I call the “cute” factor. Your tag line should be memorable, but, just like television commercials, not so memorable that the person can’t see the brand (You) behind it.
Today’s post is written by Suzanne Wesley, who posted last month about logos. In this post, she gives real, concrete ways to create your first tag line with the emphasis on its relevancy to your business. (Here’s a hint: You need to have a good handle on your value to your client. Without this understanding, you may have difficulty framing a useful tag line.) Enjoy!
Last month I covered how having a professional logo could make you more memorable, and save you time explaining yourself during a first meeting with a prospective client or editor. This month, I’d like to add one more promotional element to your writing arsenal that can also assist you in promoting your writing – the tag line. Tag lines are also referred to as a slogan, and are usually a phrase, of up to seven words, that is catchy and ties in directly to the first snap-shot impression you want someone to have of you and your writing style.
Tip: This is not to be confused with your elevator pitch – which is a short, 30-second description of you, what you write, and what makes you unique from other writers.
Most of us are familiar with product tag lines, such as: Nike – ‘Just Do It,’ Bounty – ‘The Quicker Picker-Upper,’ M&Ms – ‘Melts in Your Mouth Not in Your Hands’ . . . and oh-so-many more. These companies have been using the same tag-line to promote the same product for many years. For businesses and individuals it is much more common that you will change your slogan or tag line about every two years to match up with any change in direction you may be taking. After all, if you happen to be a prolific writer, you are hopeful that the novel you are working on now will be published within two years and you will then be moving on to writing and promoting your next writing adventure! Watch for slogans everywhere you shop, or even in your kitchen cabinets. Analyze the ones that seem the most effective, or interesting to you.
Questions that need to be addressed when creating your tag line:
- Who will see it? Who is your customer/audience?
- What benefit do you offer to them?
- How do you stand out from your peers?
- What type of emotion or feeling do you want to emit?
- Is there any action you want someone seeing your slogan to take?
While thinking about those 5 questions write down all of the words that come to your mind. You might also want to check out what tag lines your competition is using. Pay attention to what words they use. Make sure that you aren’t copying a tag that someone in your field is already using. You might find some useful words, but don’t make your tag-line TOO similar to avoid plagiarizing.
At this point, dig out your thesaurus, write down even more words to choose from and then develop a list of your favorite tag line ideas. Look them over and apply the 5 questions above to your list. Narrow your choices down to the most effective ones and then ask willing family, friends or colleagues to chime in. If you end up with more than one top choice – either keep tweaking the words until one is the obvious choice, or use one for a couple of years and keep the other for your next promotional campaign, to keep things fresh.
Example – My First Tag Line
Aside from my personal writing projects, I run a small business performing copy writing and graphic design projects for individuals and other businesses. I regularly work with clients that have an idea of what they want, sometimes they even have some of the writing, or even logos and photos they know they want to use, but they can’t quite put their finger on how to pull it all together and make an advertisement or brochure out of it … (or whatever the project may be). Sometimes they don’t even know how they want to advertise themselves, they simply know they have a great product and want their potential customers to know all about it. And my clients can be everything from another writer, to a large global company. My slogan had to be somewhat generic to incorporate a very big potential client list.
After working on tag lines for others for years, I still found it a challenge to come up with the first one to use on my own business. Because I’m a visual thinker I eventually chose to use wrought iron and ceramic tiles as elements in my advertising and I also wanted to mimic that in my slogan. Both wrought iron and tile are raw elements that are usually unimpressive on their own, but you can use them to make items that are beautifully intricate, and often useful too. So my brainstormed slogan ideas reflected taking raw elements and making something whole from them.
I eventually came up with ‘Taking raw ideas … and making something beautiful!’ as my first tag line. Hopefully, my journey to my own first tag line will inspire you to work on one of your own. I am just starting to use it on my web site and in my advertising, and I still need to add it to my e-mail signature, business card etc. As I slowly develop all of the elements I use to promote myself I will now include my tag-line, pictures of tile, and my logo – which includes an intricate wrought iron fence. The more I do this, the more potential for instant recognition I will have.
Are you using a tag line? If so, please comment and share what you are using.
Suzanne Wesley is a full-time freelance writer and graphic artist from Indiana. She has over 13 years of experience in design and corporate communications creation. She is also the mother of two preschool-aged girls who make working out of a home office very interesting. Visit her site at www.suzannewesley.com.