How to: Develop a tagline

Does your business have a tagline? If yes, does it accurately convey what you do?  If not, why not?

Every business should have a tagline, no doubt. A tagline is an additional bit of information that clarifies what you do to your potential customers. Now, a tagline is not a motto. Webster’s defines a motto as “a short expression of a guiding principle.”  A motto could be something generic, like “we always do our best,” which can be seen as something your employees rally around but that does not communicate anything about what your business does.

What is a slogan? Webster’s gives three definitions: 1) a war cry; 2) phrase used to express a characteristic position or goal; 3) attention-getting phrase used in promotion.  Clearly definition number 1 is not what we are after. And the difference between two and three is really the difference between a slogan and a tagline. A slogan should be unchanging, something that is more universal (your goals or your purpose) and your tagline can change for a particular ad campaign. And yes, a slogan and a tagline can be one and the same.

For instance, if you are a hospital or clinic, your slogan might be your commitment to a healthy future for all. If you are running an ad campaign, you might focus on a certain aspect of your practice like cardiology and your tagline might focus on helping patients achieve heart health. All the while your motto could be something about maintaining  the highest standard in hygienic practices.

So, how do you develop a tagline? First make sure you are not developing a motto.  Be more specific about what you are trying to communicate about your product or service.


1) Understand your product or service and its USP. This seems fairly obvious but you would be surprised at how very few people can communicate succintly what they do. You might start with a short description of your product and service. Think about attributes, descriptors and differentiators

2) Brainstorm. Write out 10-20 short lines (5-10 words) about your product or service. Incorporate some descriptors and attributes from above.

3) Evaluate. Which is catchy? Which is comprehensive? Which is too generic? Eliminate anything that is cliche, generic, or just doesn’t say enough.

4) Narrow down your list to 3-5 choices and show them to your principal stakeholders.

5) Have a vote. Generally, one tagline will emerge as the best one.

One more thing. People often confuse  logo and slogan. A logo is a GRAPHIC representation of your slogan/motto.  A logo is never a written piece. And logos are best left to design professionals. I would strongly counsel you to not try doing this at home!

Add to FacebookAdd to DiggAdd to Del.icio.usAdd to StumbleuponAdd to RedditAdd to BlinklistAdd to Ma.gnoliaAdd to TechnoratiAdd to FurlAdd to Newsvine