Taglines and slogans that work

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Taglines and slogans can either give immediate clarity or total obscurity in just a few breaths. If you’re struggling to gain mindshare with prospective customers, something as simple as a slogan that actually makes sense can work wonders.

What should a good slogan do?

It should immediately and unequivocally convey what unique value you provide. The US Army, for the longest time, said “Be all that you can be”. That communicates their unique value to you fairly obviously. Marketers and salespeople have long been told to be able to answer the question, “What’s in it for me?”, but there’s a second question you need to be able to answer just as fluently: “What’s different about you?”.

Here’s a few taglines that you may remember:

The breakfast of champions.
When it absolutely, positively has to be there overnight.
Save money, live better.

A good slogan, a good tagline becomes so memorable that it becomes its own brand after a while. If you recognize any of these, then they and their associated products or services succeeded. They convey value and they convey uniqueness. They answer what’s in it for me and they also answer what’s different about you.

By contrast, here are three mobile companies’ slogans. What kind of services do they provide, and what’s in it for you?

Stick together.
Rule the air.
Beyond talk.

Here’s a few from other consumer-facing companies that are even worse:

You got people.
Live your life.
Look again.

If you’re looking to make your brand, product, or service stand out, slogans like this won’t do it for you. Without the company names, there’s absolutely no indication whatsoever about who the company is, what they do, how they can help you, or why they’re different.

If you’re struggling with a slogan, consider the tale of the grandma. There’s an old storyteller’s parable that says the more specific you are about your own grandmother, the more other people will relate to you with specifics of their own. If you talk about grandma’s cookies, you’ll get a response out of some people, but if you talk about how grandma’s cookies always seemed to have just a touch of extra ginger in them, other people will enthusiastically relate that their grandma put in nutmeg or cinnamon, etc. Specificity is okay as long as you convey benefit with it.

Let’s tackle one more real life example. If we apply the label scrape test to my friend DJ Waldow’s company tagline, it doesn’t do so well:

Waldow Social helps businesses leverage the power of events, email and social media marketing to help grow their community and turn prospects into fans, evangelists and clients.

Unfortunately, that description fits a ton of companies. It’s too generic. Knowing DJ and having worked with him and his unique abilities to build a strong, vibrant community, he’d be better served with a tagline like this:

Waldow Social grows your lukewarm audience into raving lunatic fans and profitable business with proven event, email, and social strategies.

As an extra bonus, it fits inside 140 characters, plus it differentiates what DJ can bring to the table from other boring marketing companies peddling Facebook 101 garbage. It also fits his personal brand and personality, which goes something like this:

DJ Waldow Avatar - June 2010

Your slogan or tagline can be the conversation starter that opens doors or the mindless drivel that slams them shut in your face. What’s in it for me, what’s different about you?

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