Wondering how to write a tagline that truly communicates your value?
Taglines are words that accompany your business name.
But they’re so much more. Especially if you know how to write a tagline using the 5-step process I spell out here.
Here at the Big Brand System, the tagline is, “I teach people how to build online businesses they love.”
A tagline can be an asset if you know how to craft it.
But they’re tricky — especially when you’re writing one for your own business.
It’s a question we tackle often in my BIG League member program.
- Members are building online businesses
- They know what they want to name their business
- In some cases, they’ve bought a domain name
- They realize their business name alone isn’t compelling enough
And so … they begin working on ideas for taglines.
But they’re not professional copywriters. Plus, they’re so close to their business they can’t see it objectively — like an outsider would.
Writing a tagline can be a struggle — but it’s worth the effort.
When you know how to write a tagline, it becomes like a little salesperson who proclaims what’s best about what you do. So why do so many companies either not utilize them, or simply get them wrong?
Not enough attention has been paid to the humble tagline and I’m here to remedy that.
Let’s talk about how to write a tagline all by yourself — no copywriter needed.
We’ll go through the steps I follow when I’m working with a client to craft one for their business so that you know how to write a tagline, too.
I’ll give you a free tool I developed that makes it easy — no sign up required. I’ll walk you through exactly how to use the tool.
By the time you go through this short (fun!) exercise, you’ll not only know how to write a tagline — you’ll have written a tagline you can be proud of.
Step 1: How to write a tagline that’s easy to remember
The most important rule is that your tagline should be short and it should be clear.
Every time I work with a client to create their tagline, I use the same, tired joke:
“Your tagline should be short and clear enough that if it’s on a billboard, people won’t drive off the road trying to read it.”
This means your tagline should be no more than seven or eight words, and you should pick words that are crystal clear. If your business name is long, keep your tagline even shorter.
Step 2: How to complete your business information with a well-written tagline
There are two ways to “complete your business information” with your tagline. It all starts when you take a close look at your business name and identify its strengths and weaknesses.
Example 1: Your business name doesn’t explain what you offer
How to write a tagline if your business name doesn’t clearly say exactly what your business does?
If this is your situation, your tagline should complete the information.
If your company is called “Jones & Smith, Inc.,” and you manufacture doll house furniture, write a tagline that explains exactly what you offer.
In this case, you could write one like this:
Since your company name doesn’t explain what you do, your tagline completes the information.
Example 2: Your business name explains what you offer
On the other hand, if your name states exactly what you offer, your tagline can complement it by stating the benefit of your product or service.
Let’s use the same company and change the name:
Adding “Fine Furniture for Tiny Homes” would be re-stating the information conveyed in the company name.
How to write a tagline when your business name states exactly what you offer?
Use your tagline too communicate the benefit of what you do.
This is a powerful combination! The business name is clear and the tagline explains an important benefit.
Step 3: Brainstorm a list of specific words
Take a piece of paper or use the simple (free!) spreadsheet I created for you.
Click to make a copy of the spreadsheet in Google Sheets so you can use it yourself:
Use the spreadsheet columns or simply draw three columns on your paper.
Column 1: Exactly who you help
Describe your ideal customer in positive terms — “new moms,” “retirees,” “smart crafters,” “ambitious business owners,” etc.
Add as many terms as you can come up with — be creative!
Column 2: Exactly how you help them
Describe what your business sells — the product or service you offer.
Be sure to use clear terms anyone can understand — avoid jargon at all costs!
Column 3: The transformation your customers experience
Describe the transformation your customer experiences once they buy your product or service.
Try starting with “so they can ___” (and fill in the blank).
Or read on to learn about the “magic question” you can ask.
Step 4: Ask the “magic question”
There’s a “magic question” you can ask to help you pinpoint the most important benefit to include in your tagline:
“And that’s good because … ?”
Use this question to help you discover the benefit your tagline should state.
To find the benefit, ask (and answer) the question above.
Keep asking, and keep answering until you run out of answers. (This is an important marketing exercise that I wrote an entire post about).
If we go back to our example, here’s how the brainstorming might go:
Q: What benefit does our product offer?
A: It provides high-quality furniture for doll houses.
Q: And that’s good because…?
A: It allows children to play with the furniture for many years without worrying about breaking it.
Q: And that’s good because…?
A. Those children will grow up, and they can pass the doll furniture on to their own children.
Q: And that’s good because…?
A. The furniture will live on beyond the buyer’s life.
Q: And that’s good because…?
A. Well, because immortality is always good.
You get the idea: keep answering the question “and that’s good because?” until you can’t answer it any more.
You’ll end up with benefits that get to the heart of what will motivate your customers. That core motivation is what you should reference in your tagline.
Step 5: Write lots of tagline ideas and test them out
The final step is to combine the words from the first three columns into as many options as possible.
Aim for no more than 7-8 words total — remember, we want people to read it and grasp the meaning in a single glance.
The final test?
Pair your favorite taglines with your business name.
- Take them in with your eyes. How do they look together?
- Read them aloud. How do they sound?
The next step is to share them with people who represent your ideal customer.
Do they understand what you do and why it matters?
Keep going until you have a short, meaningful tagline that conveys the true value your business delivers.
How to write a tagline that adapts to your business
You know what’s great about taglines that no one seems to talk about?
A well-written tagline offers you fantastic flexibility.
Your business name has to be registered with the authorities, and is in all your legal documents, your web site URL, your signage and more. If you decide to change your name, it’s a real hassle.
Taglines aren’t as permanent.
You can create a new one for your business pretty easily. If your company changes direction, or you add to the services or products you offer, you can simply re-write or add to your existing tagline.
Taglines are terrific vehicles for communicating your business’s value.
You can use them when you create a simple logo as I share in this article, Why a Fancy Logo is a Waste of Time and Money (and What You Need Instead).
Here’s how to write a tagline you’ll love to use
Step 1: Write a tagline that’s easy to remember. Keep it short so your ideal customer grasps the meaning in a single glance.
Step 2: Complete your business information with a well-written tagline. If your business name doesn’t say exactly what you offer, be sure to explain that in your tagline. If it does, use your tagline to emphasize the transformation you deliver.
Step 3: Brainstorm a list of specific words. Use the prompts in this article to come up with a long list of words you can use to describe who you help and how you help them.
Step 4: Ask the “magic question.” Take a moment to step back and ask, “And that’s good because … ?” Your answer will help clarify what to emphasize when you describe how your customers benefit from what you do.
Step 5: Write lots of tagline ideas and test them out. Using the words and phrases you came up with in the first three columns, write out different combinations you could try as a tagline. Test these with people who represent your ideal customer. Are they clear and easy to understand? Are they memorable?
Note: This post was originally published on April 14, 2010 and has been updated with the latest guidance.
Create stunning visuals that feature your tagline
Got a great tagline? I’d love to help you show it off!
In my free visual marketing workshop, you’ll discover how to use the power of images to draw attention to your brand.
Register for my free on-demand workshop below. discover how to build a recognizable visual brand on the web — it’s easy and fun!