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The 7 Words Or Less Exercise: How to Create a Perfect Tagline

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One of the all-time worst Google searches a company can type in is:

“Best business taglines of all time”

You’ll see all the self-congratulatory ad campaigns from years past: Just Do It, Think Different, A Diamond Lasts Forever, and my personal favorite – Betcha Can’t Eat Just One.

We celebrate these taglines because they are engrained in our minds as commercials from the past. They are forever a part of our nostalgia, reminding us of a time when communication was different when a slower pace allowed advertising to fester in our minds, eventually capturing us after enough touch points.

Things are different today. You don’t have that many attempts to grab someone’s attention and your customers are a lot more educated, so they need the facts, not the fluff.

Perhaps if you have the brand recognition of a company like Apple, you can Think Different. But for the majority of businesses, you have to Explain Concisely.

Now I don’t want to be a Negative Nate here, but I do have some bad news: your tagline is going to be a difficult puzzle to solve. You’ve got very little space to work with. You will become frustrated that what you’re putting out there is not as clever as the Madison Avenue pitches. Someone in your group will undoubtedly say the clearest choice is “not sexy enough”. You will bounce it off your friends and they will tell you that it’s a little sterile.

You are not marketing to your friends. You are not marketing to who you were 20 years ago. You are marketing to target prospects and if you want to explain to them what you do and why you do it, you’ve only got a few words to attract the buyer. So make them count.

The Three Rules of the 7 Words or Less Tagline

  1. The tagline needs to be 7 Words or Less. We can be somewhat flexible for “the”s and “A”s, but all of your “and”s and “with”s count towards the total.
  2. The tagline needs to make it clear what you do.
  3. The tagline must clear explain why you do it or why you are different or why you bring customers value.

Alright, it’s time to put this into action. Where do we start?

How about with a Word Bank:

Screenshot 2019 02 26 11.36.00

Perhaps the title gives it away, but the best place to start is by picking out the words in your Why-How-What Positioning Statement. Begin with the words that resonate the most and throw them into a word bank.

Break out your trust thesaurus and add some derivatives of each.

Now put yourself in the shoes of your target customer. He or she has just googled “The Best (Your Industry) Companies 2018″ and begins to look at the results.

What needs to be right there after your company’s name to get the click? That’s what you’re aiming for.

With your team, create 3-5 different examples you could live with. Value clarity over cleverness, but don’t be afraid to pull out the thesaurus and take chances.

Examples of Good Taglines

I’ve helped a good amount of small businesses with their taglines over the years. We’ve adopted the 7 Words or Less process and followed all the rules. Here are three examples of good taglines that concisely measure the “what” and the “why.”

Paragon Laboratories – Contract Manufacturing that Protects Your Brand

Paragon is a white-label manufacturer of dietary supplements. Their why can be summed up as “We believe quality can be measured.” Everything they do is focused on providing the highest quality product to its customers. It’s engrained throughout their business – with certifications, evolving QA policies, and strict QC measurements. They understand that the value they provide is that their investment in quality provides customers with peace of mind knowing that their logo will be placed on a container of well-tested formulations. Their brand will be protected if they work with Paragon, because the supplements inside will only be of the highest standard.

Anderson & Vreeland – Partners in Flexo Innovation.

Anderson & Vreeland is a distributor of flexographic printing products. They have a very education-focused sales and operation team that walks customers through the intricacies of each product they sell. As a distributor, they want to cultivate a portfolio of the best products in the marketplace. Their tagline is a little vague on the “what”, using “Partners” as a synonym for “Distributor”, but it works because of the hands-on approach the company uses with its clientele. They are more than just a distributor. Secondly, they specifically use “Flexo” because leading in this focused space is an important part of their growth strategy. Lastly, they tie in “Innovation” to help customers recognize that A&V is focused on how the industry is evolving and helping printers navigate this ever-changing industry is the value that they bring.

I.T. Mars – I.T. Mars: Pricing Out of this World!

IT Mars is a perfect example of how an effective tagline is more important than a “cool” tagline. I.T. Mars, an ecommerce store for Information Technology products such as servers, routers, and similar products, is an interesting example because they used their company name as part of their pitch. The tagline and name work together and were established early on.

“I.T. Mars” suggests an entire planet of these products, while the “pricing out of this world” line makes it crystal clear that their value to the customer is that they offer the most affordable prices. This is a perfect example of a focused message to a target market. This is what we sell and this is why you should buy from us, in just 7 sweet words.

Final Thought

One suggestion for the “7 Words or Less” Tagline – do it twice. Go through the process, come up with your interim answer, and step away for a week. Have the team keep an open ear out and instruct everyone to think about it occasionally on commutes or down periods. Regather for just 1 hour a week later and try to come up with something better than your first option. If you can’t, you know your first try was a keeper. If you go with the new option, a little time was the boost you needed.

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