October 17, 2016

‘Can you hear me now?’ How a strong tagline can expand your reach

Think different. I’m lovin’ it. Where’s the beef?

Three very distinct companies just flashed through your brain, all because of a little word magic and some cleverly crafted taglines that have left an indelible impression on American culture over the past few decades.

A strong tagline can be a powerful extension of your brand and can even reinforce your mission and promise to your client. Some last decades (BMW created “The Ultimate Driving Machine” in 1975!), and others are refreshed after they stop resonating with the public—or when they’ve frankly been used (and spoofed) to death (got milk, anyone?).

While usually short and simple, the creation of an effective tagline is deceivingly difficult. Even large brands stumble with dull and often incomprehensible gibberish. So if your brand’s in need of a little spit and shine and you’re considering a new tagline, keep these tips in mind:

  • Define your brand – You know better than anyone what your company is all about—and what you aspire to be. Begin with an exercise of listing out words and phrases that line up with your mission and vision. Don’t try to get cutesy or clever at this point; just stick with the facts.
  • Keep it consistent – Remember that your tagline doesn’t live in a vacuum. It needs to work and play nicely with every aspect of your overall brand: the colors of your logo, the tone of your blog, the lifestyle of your typical customer. If your brand is more hardcore, you probably didn’t use pastels in your logo color palette. Apply the same mindset to your tagline language.
  • Test, test, test – Because you know your company better than anyone, you’re also too close to the action. Narrow down your choices and try them out on friends, family and colleagues. Do they make sense? Do they reflect your company? Do you have to always explain one of the options? These outside perspectives can help you narrow your focus.

‘Tastes great, less filling’

When I started Crux, I went through a similar exercise. It really forced me to evaluate what value I wanted to provide to my clients—and how to express that value in a short phrase.

We’ve found that our tagline, “Everything you need, nothing you don’t,” is resonating with our clients because when you’re a business leader, let’s face it, you’d rather just get to the point. And we’re quickly discovering an underserved world of businesses and professional services firms that know they need to make a marketing investment but don’t need the added bells and whistles of a large agency.

Many of our competitors don’t care for our tagline, but the CEOs and business leaders we’re talking to love it. Our theory? These businesses have grown accustomed to receiving a lot of extras they really don’t need. Because Crux is focused on delivering those marketing services that tie back to your mission – and help achieve your business goals – our tagline is perfect for our brand.

‘Reach out and touch someone’

Of course, don’t get too wrapped up in a tagline. Make no mistake: Taglines can be difficult to really nail, they can be expensive to implement, and they may not last. And in a world that has evolved from a few primary media channels to one dominated by social media, content marketing and a deluge of digital outlets, a tagline can be difficult to effectively implement. Even a few “experts” will tell you not to even bother.

I would argue a good tagline still has a role in this fragmented marketing world, and a strong one can help focus your efforts and really serve as the bedrock on which you build your brand (or at least a successful campaign). Done correctly, it can transform how potential clients view your company as a whole.

And maybe – just maybe – it becomes a household slogan, something so valuable you don’t leave home without it. (Wait, that sounds familiar…)

Melea McRae has always liked L’Oréal’s tagline, “Because you’re worth it,” but “Just do it” will remain her favorite. As founder and CEO of Crux, she’s proud that her own tagline truly reflects how she can help area companies achieve their goals. Share your thoughts on our Facebook page or on Twitter @findyourcrux.

About the author: Melea McRae is a marketing strategist with 25+ years of B2B and B2C experience leading client-facing marketing departments, where she earned the reputation as an insightful brand strategist. As SVP and CMO at the Greater KC Chamber of Commerce, she led the organization’s marketing and business development efforts. In July 2016, Melea launched Crux KC, providing an in-house marketing team, outsourced – the “un-agency” – for her small-to-mid-sized clients. As founder and CEO, she builds marketing, communication and business development strategies for her clients, while positioning them for sustainable growth.

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