How to Write A Sticky Tagline

Every morning at about 6:45 I sit down with the newspaper and a large cup of coffee, to which I add two Splenda packets and a splash of half and half. I drink the coffee out of a thermos mug with a screw-on lid that keeps it just below boiling. It takes me about an hour to complete my ritual and at the end, when I’ve tipped the coffee mug all the way up and it’s completely drained, I can honestly say, that was “Good to the Last Drop.”

I know you recognize that slogan, people have been saying it since 1926 when Calvin Coolidge was President and Maxwell House Coffee first introduced it as their tagline. That’s 88 years of radio sponsorships, TV commercials, print ads and soap operas. In that time Maxwell House Coffee has spent countless millions on “Good to the Last Drop” and in return their brand has become part of the American lexicon.

How to Write A Sticky Tagline

They’re not the only ones either. Recognize any of these? “The Breakfast of Champions,” Wheaties, 1949, “You’re in Good Hands with Allstate,” Allstate Insurance, 1950 and finally, “We Try Harder,” Avis, 1962. What do they all have in common? To put it in today’s terminology, they’re sticky, like really sticky. More recent up-and-comers are Nike’s “Just do it,” BMW’s “The Ultimate Driving Machine,” and Disneyland’s “The Happiest Place on Earth.” Only time will tell if they’re still around in 88 years.

If you’re going to write a tagline for your company, don’t be fooled by slogan generators. Those formatted questionnaires that say: “Simply fill out this form and you’ll end up with the perfect slogan.” I guarantee Coca Cola didn’t use one to write, “It’s the Real Thing.” Nor did L’Oréal when they wrote, “Because I’m Worth it.” Writing a sticky tagline is hard work, so be prepared to roll up your sleeves and do some research, analysis and brainstorming.

6 STEPS TO A STICKY TAGLINE

1. Identify your competition.

Make a spreadsheet and list all the companies your organization competes with. For each of these companies write down their tagline, what products and services they sell and what claims they make about their products and services. If location is important write that down, too.

 2. Analyze them.

Compare their strengths and weaknesses with your strengths and weaknesses. Learn what strategies and tactics they employ. If they have a website, you can find most of this information there. Look at their ads and brochures. Google them. Find areas of their business that have vulnerabilities and look for potential opportunities.

3. Determine what makes you different.

What’s your Unique Selling Proposition (USP)? This is where you must be strategic. After the competition has been analyzed and you’re clear about the claims each company makes, it’s time for you to determine what makes your company unique. You accomplish this the same way the early gold prospectors did—by planting a stake in the ground and claiming territory no one else has claimed. At the same time, make sure that what you claim fills a need where there will be sufficient demand.

4. State your Unique Selling Proposition in a sentence or two.

Writing up your USP is not a creative exercise rather it’s a well-crafted declaration of your organization’s unique position amongst the competition. You will know you have a good USP when you go back to your spreadsheet and compare yours with the competitions and can honestly say, “Yep, no one else can make this claim.”

5. Create your tagline.

If you’ve completed steps one through four it’s time to get creative. Writing your tagline should reflect what’s stated in your USP, only much shorter and much stickier. I recommend working with others in a brainstorming session and in an environment that supports creativity. When we assign our staff creative projects they like to work in the conference room with large pads of paper that they write on and tape to the wall. Look for tagline ideas that break the rules, that don’t sound familiar—this is usually where the gold is.

6. Take your ideas out for a test run.

Choose several taglines that you and your team think are winners and do some qualitative research to get feedback. Use outside sources like customers and other people you do business with. Often times you’ll find that these individuals see things you don’t and can highlight taglines that should not be considered. Once you narrow it down to two or three, the last thing to do is choose.

If you completed all six steps, congratulations, you have a tagline that powerfully represents your organization. Use it generously, put it in your ads, brochures, signage, vehicles, anywhere you promote your company. And remember, just like “A Diamond is Forever,” so is a great tagline.