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“Big ideas come from the unconscious. This is true in art, in science, and in advertising. But your unconscious has to be well informed, or your idea will be irrelevant. Stuff your conscious mind with information, then unhook your rational thought process. You can help this process by going for a long walk, or taking a hot bath, or drinking half a pint of claret. Suddenly, if the telephone line from your unconscious is open, a big idea wells up within you.” David Ogilvy, The “Father of Advertising”
Have you ever been fishing? If you’re any kind of an angler, you know the importance of setting the hook. Many fish have this maddening proclivity to roll a lure around in their mouths without committing, and then spit it out. So, it’s crucial to “set the hook” by giving just the right quick pull on the line. “Fishing” for customers is similar.
The big three elements of your brand identity are Name, Tagline and Logo. Among these three, your company name and logo are the “bait” to get attention and tempt people to “bite.” But your tagline—ah!—that’s where you have the opportunity to set the hook! A well-executed tagline begins a story that grabs people’s emotions. It leaves a lingering and irresistible impression, embedding itself in the emotional center of human consciousness. (Note: A tagline is often referred to as a slogan or value proposition.)
Now, all these accomplishments are a mouthful for a few words to fill—and we recommend that most taglines be between 1-5 words, with some exceptions. This is why creating a tagline is much more than just a brainstorm for some catchy slogan. It is a process that is part left-brain strategy and word-crafting, part right-brain creative genius. Your tagline needs to be sharp and powerful if you are going to hook your audience, and it has to adapt to a variety of touchpoints.
A professional and accomplished tagline writer will have created more than a few that have produced deep emotional reactions in clients—from belly laughs to tears. It’s a very specialized skillset, and if you have the budget, hire a branding specialist. If you don’t, however, pay heed to what we’re about to teach you.
A great tagline adds immense value to your brand; it communicates the primary benefit of your business in a tone that instantly establishes a strong emotional connection with your target audience. Your tagline should be short, memorable and impactful. It is not a sprig of parsley garnishing your plate, it is a spoonful of anticipation, a sample of a delightful experience to come.
On a few occasions, clients themselves have come up with winning taglines when we’ve led them through the tagline process. There is genius in your subconscious mind; the trick is getting it to the surface and capturing it in words. The genius is in the carefully-guided process, regardless of whose mind ultimately comes up with the answer.
The Tagline Process
Talk to five different tagline writers, and you’ll get five different processes, but also common elements. It’s uncanny how we all speak the same language. Here’s an inside look at our own process.
Brainstorm: We begin by asking clients to come up with words to describe two things:
The Tone or Personality of the business. Which words describe the experience that people have in every touchpoint of your business? Friendly? Professional? Slapstick?
The Unique Benefits of the business. What makes you different? What benefits do you offer that others can’t match? What is your “Unique Selling Proposition (USP)?” It may be general things like superior customer service, quick response time, or high quality results; other benefits may be more specific, like “we use only locally sourced wood,” or “we are the only barbershop that caters to children.”
Write down anything, and don’t edit yourself at this stage. Even “stupid” ideas may have the seeds of a good idea. These words provide raw material for building a tagline, and inevitably a few draft tagline ideas will pop into your head.
Unfortunately, most people stop at the brainstorm stage and choose what sounds good to them, Uncle Milton or the rest of the peanut gallery. But the next steps really separate good taglines from GREAT ones.
Group words into common themes.
Gather together any words that carry similar meanings under descriptive headings. For example:
Don’t take ourselves too seriously
Choose your top, most important themes
You can’t cover everything in one tagline, so choose a few themes highlighting your best strengths, or aspects you most want to communicate. You may want to select themes emphasizing different aspects than what your competition does.
Keep in mind that the tagline process involves a great deal of paring down. You start with a lot of concepts, but you end up throwing most of them out as you distill down to the richest word combination. As a professional name and tagline creator, we are used to having 99.999% of our ideas rejected by the team—but that’s good! We only want one out of a thousand, or 0.001 to present to the client!
Do a word study
Take these few themes and start exploring different ways to express them. Break out the thesaurus and follow the trails of good synonyms. Try out clever word techniques like:
Alliteration: words that start with the same letter. For instance, “Crafting Customer Care.”
Rhyming: We know you’ll get this one, so our explanation is done.
Double entendre: Taglines that have double meanings (triple is even better!) An example that I created for a bedbug control company was “We get bedbugs outright.” Get it?
Onomatopoeia: Using words that sound like what they describe. For example, Sizzling, hushed, crack, (get ready to…) rumble.
Imagery: Using words that evoke any of the five senses like bright, aroma, smooth…
The above steps utilize the “left brain,” or the conscious, analytical part of your mind. The final two steps tap into a much more powerful center of genius: the unconscious mind, the seat of emotions. It is here that the most novel combinations will occur, without your active participation. All the left-brain work provides the raw materials for the creative process to build upon. Think of all these words and ideas floating around like pieces of DNA that will recombine to make a unique and living new creation!
For this “random mutation” of raw ideas to occur in the subconscious mind, you’ve got to stop trying to bring it about with the conscious mind. Go fishing, watch TV, take a nap…go about your daily life, but keep a notebook and pen handy. Once those novel combinations bubble up from the subconscious mind to the conscious mind, you will want to be ready to write them down. Often this happens in the middle of the night, and if you don’t write down those waking thoughts, you’ll likely forget them by morning.
If it feels good, choose it!
We don’t ever settle for an idea our client just “likes,” so we don’t stop until we see them have a “hallelujah, I saw the light!” moment. (We’re talking goosebumps here.) But even after this kind of reaction, we have seen people toss out a great tagline because they began to overanalyze it, or because their cousin Fred didn’t care for it. So, we cannot stress enough, weigh your first emotional reaction very heavily! Your audience isn’t going to analyze your tagline in passing. It will either make an emotional impact, or it won’t. Of course, the advantage of having someone like us draft taglines for you is that we can spring the ideas on your unsuspecting mind and watch how you react. If you’re going through this process on your own, you must pay close attention to your reaction as the idea emerges.
We have seen people talk themselves out of brilliant taglines, and we have seen others talk themselves into really dull, “safe” ones.
There’s an old saying that goes something like, “Don’t marry the person you could live with, marry the person you couldn’t live without.” The same goes for your tagline. Don’t stop till you know you’ve chosen the perfect match.
Stay tuned for more relevant content on creating world-class digital marketing strategies and B2B telemarketing sales strategies. We at SalesFish Brand Marketing & Sales thank you for joining us in our commitment to unwavering strategic planning, B2B brand marketing and B2B sales execution.
Call today and our “high-touch” dedicated team will assist you in assessing your strategic sales goals to tailor our marketing and sales tactics to your specific needs.
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