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Value of a Tagline: one thing we learn about marketing from Donald Trump

Learning how to write a tagline and leverage its marketing value will help a new business owner start in a successful direction.

When I sit down with a new client to begin designing her or his website, one of the first questions I ask is, “What is your tagline?”

A good tagline sums up a company’s mission and promise and sets it apart from competitors. The tagline is such an important tool in marketing that there are agencies whose one specialty is crafting them.

Most us are not wordsmiths. Whether we are a solo entrepreneurs, artists, or run a small company, we already have enough responsibilities. Writing our company tagline can get overlooked.

This is a big miss. You can learn how to write a tagline. A well-written tagline used consistently will help even a small business rise over their competitors.

Tagline Marketing Lesson 101 From Trump University

Rum, make America great again. Donald Trump knows how to write a tagline
Will Rum make America great again?

This season’s Presidential contest reminds me, particularly on the Republican side, of the value of a tagline.

“Make America Great Again” is, frankly, a great tagline. After all, who doesn’t want to be great? The Trump tagline accomplishes all three of the important qualities of a good tagline: mission, promise, and brand. In four words the Presidential candidate lays out the mission of his campaign, makes a promise to voters, and brands himself as great.

This post is not an endorsement of any candidate. My intention is to encourage small businesses to think about their tagline and provide some guidance in how to write one.

–Mary Ann Aschenbrenner

Logo and Tagline Should Work Together

Nike swoosh with tagline, Just Do It. This is an example of how to write a tagline
The Nike swoosh and tagline are inseparable.

Think of it this way. A logo is the visible representation of a brand. The tagline is the audible representation of a brand. Like the logo, the tagline rarely changes. It is part of the company brand identity.

Large companies will spend millions marketing their logo and tagline. Consider Nike: the swoosh is inseparable from, “Just Do It.” In this case, the tagline implies activity and that Nike is a company of activity. The promise is that their products will make customers fit and active. Nike has done such a masterful job marketing their logo with their tagline that we can’t see one without remembering the other.

This season’s Republican presidential candidate gained status and recognition with free publicity from the media. His early marketing work in the Republican primaries, his volatile and entertaining pronouncements, garnered him millions in free media exposure. All along, at every public opportunity, he repeated his tagline.

As a small entrepreneur we often underestimate our ability to market our ourselves and our businesses. We may not have Nike’s budget or a billionaire’s ego, but we do have a network, a circle of business associates and customers. Each of our customers should know our tagline. Friends should also know our company tagline. They should know our tagline because we repeat it in conversation, on our websites, and on our business cards.

Even on a small scale, even for a small business or artist entrepreneur, a tagline will improve your marketing and help you stay in your customer’s minds.

Waterlink Web Example

Waterlink Web: connecting your customers with you. We can teach you how to write a tagline
The logo and tagline for this website design agency.

My company is an example of a small business using a logo and tagline combination for marketing. Our tagline is, “connecting your customers with you.”

I wrote this tagline because we include onsite search engine optimization in each website we build. Our websites come up in search results for the products and services that our clients build or sell. But, saying all that can leave clients who are unfamiliar with technology confused. The tagline sums it up: connecting your customers with you.

Our company mission is to help businesses grow by connecting our clients with their customers through quality websites. The tagline’s promise is that a website by Waterlink Web can do this.

Both online and in our printed material our tagline is shown with our logo. Our logo is a bridge, an image of connection. In this case it is an artist’s rendering of the St. Johns Bridge in North Portland where Waterlink Web is located.

When people ask me what, I do I include the phrase, “Connecting your customers with you,” as part of the conversation while describing my work. This sets Waterlink Web apart from our competitors who generally list website and marketing services when describing their businesses.

Truth in Taglines

M&M's package
“Melts in your mouth, not in your hands.” Really?

Taglines are not always honest, and occasionally we can live with that. As a child I remember wondering why the M&M’s were melting in my hand when the promise was, “melts in your mouth, not in your hands.” The M&M’s tagline may lack veracity, but this Halloween that won’t stop me from buying them for the trick-or-treaters who come to our door.

For business owners (and politicians), however, I recommend you keep your tagline truthful. Only promise what you can deliver.

Our fond memories from childhood will help us forgive M&M’s. Your customer’s memory of your service, products, and attention to detail will only be a pleasant one if those memories meet with the promise of your tagline.[divider_flat]

More Tips on Writing a Tagline

Keep it simple. Three to eight words is plenty. You can add more copy and description on your website or brochures. A short and memorable phrase will stay in your customer’s minds.

Keep it natural. Avoid the soulless version that a marketing committee might write. If it doesn’t feel right to you as the business owner, then it probably isn’t.

When I talk with a new client who doesn’t have a tagline we will begin the process of writing one. My client may not be a wordsmith, but I am. It may take a few days and a series of edits, but at Waterlink Web our clients come away with a website and a tagline. I can help teach you how to write a tagline.

For more tips checkout “10 Tips for a Remarkable Tagline” on the Inc. blog.