I’ve spent the week re-arranging words in an attempt to come up with a tagline for a client. It’s like having a bad song stuck in my head, except, in this case, I’m the one creating the lyrics. And, once you get started, it’s a bit like not being able to find that last word in a crossword puzzle or remember the name of the second child of the person that you were best friends with in elementary school. It begins to make you a little crazy.
When you see or hear taglines they seem pretty innocuous. And, yet we all know, for better or worse, the best ones get stuck in our heads, Don’t leave home without it, the same way old songs do. You say to yourself as you’re trying to come up with one that really works, how hard can it be? I mean come on Just Do it!
To create an effective tagline requires really knowing everything you can about what’s the crux of this person’s services or product. What’s their mission? What sets them apart, gives them their competitive advantage, and might even describe the feeling you get around them? If a customer saw it, would they know what was important, and what they might expect from the product or the service? Does it capture an emotional feeling? Does it embody a raison d’etre? Can it be said in five words or less?
The other day, I was driving out of Richmond and I noticed that their tagline appears to be Island City by Nature. I was stunned. Is that the best they could come up with? I mean, what about the fact that most of Richmond’s residents are immigrants from Mainland China and Hong Kong and that has significantly expanded the food and the culture in this suburb of Vancouver? How could someone sit down and go through the exercise of creating a tagline and not have that fact come into play? Now, granted, it might have been a really old sign but Island City by Nature really doesn’t do Richmond justice in 2012 it seems to me.
If you had to create a tagline for yourself, what would it be?
Take a look at the 100 most influential taglines since 1948.
PS: The photo was taken on Salt Spring Island and is the name of a clothing line.