If there’s one thing that needs to communicate your brand promise better than anything else, it’s your tagline. The tagline is your stake in the ground. It’s the most important takeaway for your audience: their first impression of your business.
But, the tagline is not about your product or service. And, it’s certainly not about you or your business. It’s about them: your target audience. So, you better make sure it’s concise, direct and memorable, so they recall it the each time they hear your name.
Many great taglines are unforgettable because they speak directly to their audiences and strike emotional chords. Perhaps, it’s a personal call to action, like “Be All You Can Be.” Or a challenge, like “Just Do It!” On the surface, BMW’s “The Ultimate Driving Machine” might appear to be about their cars. But, in reality, it’s about the experience of owning a BMW. They are connecting emotionally with their audience while still distinguishing their product.
With business and product naming becoming more of a challenge, due to trademarks and the shrinking pool of available web domains, the tagline has taken on greater importance in identifying the brand. Moreover, a deep understanding of the competitive landscape, as well as the emotional buttons and attitudes of the market, is vital to a tagline’s ability to distinguish, communicate and connect in just a few words.
Memorable taglines don’t just happen overnight. Depending on your promotional activities, it could take a while for it to resonate in the marketplace. Therefore, introducing new taglines too frequently creates confusion and shows a lack of focus. It also might be an indicator that your tagline is too narrow to fully embody your brand promise.
Of course, market dynamics do tend to evolve. Change can be driven by competition, technology, regulation or even adjustments in your own business model. So, occasionally, the stake needs to get repositioned; and there’s nothing wrong with that. But, changing your tagline should be done purposefully, deliberately and without diluting the brand. Furthermore, changing a tagline should never be a reactive move. Reactionary change conveys insecurity.
Finally, you won’t get your tagline from a just few brainstorming sessions. There’s a process of research, analysis, creative exploration and validation that most businesses aren’t staffed enough to undertake in-house. In many cases, they’re simply too close to what they do to get it right on their own. It’s usually beneficial to engage an outside professional to bring experience, objectivity and the right disciplines to the effort.
The bankruptcy courts are full of great ideas that were undermined by ineffective branding and promotion. Build it and they will come? No, they won’t. Not unless you make them really want to. Or, better yet, need to.
If you’re looking to create a new brand identity or enhance your current one, expect to be deeply involved, regularly challenged and perhaps a bit frustrated. It surely won’t happen overnight. But your patience will certainly pay off.
As the year closes, ask yourself how your current challenges and objectives align with your overall vision. Have you lost your way, or are you sticking to your Brand Promise? Is it still meaningful to your customers and prospects? Have you allowed yourself the room to evolve with their needs, or have you boxed yourself in?
If your business is like ours, you don’t have a bottomless marketing budget to build awareness of a name that lacks clarity. We have to be more calculated and deliberate.
Business naming is the hardest part of what we do. Aside from the creative challenges, there are three major hurdles we have to leap. For every name we present, there are, literally, dozens of candidates that never make the cut. The client never sees any of those.
If your brand cannot adapt to change, you could end up burning cycles recovering what you lost instead of spending your time building on what you have. As Ben Franklin once put it, “An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.”
Even if you’re selling widgets, there’s something more that you offer that distinguishes your business in a positive way. It’s what your customers truly gain from you that they can’t get from anyone else. It’s this frame of mind that defines your business more than anything.
Greatness cannot be achieved within a vacuum. It takes vision, perseverance and a team of experts to make it happen. It requires an understanding of what your audience wants, even if it’s something that doesn’t quite exist. You aim high, learn from your failures and never say, “It can’t be done.”
Building a great brand is never once-and-done. It’s more than a name, logo and graphics. It’s a frame of mind — an experience — with a narrative that stays relevant and makes its audience part of the story.
It’s important to look like you belong in your market. But, it’s more important to promote your own uniqueness. Remember, your brand and identity is about differentiation. It’s not about being like the others.