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Top 10 Tips to Creating your Business Strapline

Top 10 Tips to Creating your Business Strapline

A strapline, tagline, slogan or catchphrase is a short statement that communicates a business’s identity and/or offer. Good straplines can help a business stand apart from competitors, and they can express a promise regarding your product or service. It can influence how people view you, building affinity and sales.

L’Oreal has “Because you’re worth it.” John Lewis has “Never knowingly undersold”. Ronseal has the often quoted “Does exactly what it says on the tin”. To demonstrate their effectiveness, how many of these brands do you recognise from the strapline alone? Answers at the bottom of this post.

  • Exceedingly good cakes
  • Just do it
  • The world’s local bank
  • Vorsprung durch technik
  • Music for everyone
  • Taste the rainbow

Every brilliant strapline describes the essence of a business in a few select words. This makes them a fantastic marketing device, but also makes them rather challenging to get right. Brevity is key. Everyone’s favourite French mathematician, Blaise Pascal,  captured the difficulty in reducing communication to just a few words when he said “if I had more time, I would have written a shorter letter.”

This is a creative process. All creativity takes time and effort to achieve results. Be prepared to spend many hours wrestling with something that will only take a second to read. The time it takes can be exasperating; however, to lower the frustration levels, here’s our top 10 tips. Not only that, we’ll end with a practical action plan to help create that perfect strapline.

Tip 1: Be clear about what you want to say.

Is it the achievement of status or success? Think BMW with “The ultimate driving machine”. Is it a promise? Think M&M with “Melts in your mouth, not in your hands”. Is it something descriptive? Think Nokia with “Connecting people”.

From looking at these examples, it’s clear that one line can’t communicate every facet of your business. Instead, you’re looking for an overarching value statement that describes you, what you stand for, and what people can expect from you. Did I mention this would be frustrating? Let’s move to tip number two…

Tip 2: Know your audience.

Every bit of marketing demands audience knowledge, your strapline is no different. With that in mind, place yourself in your clients’ shoes. What do they want to hear?

Tip 3: Look at what your competitors are doing.

How do your competitors present themselves? Can you learn some lessons the easy way from the language and tone of their lines? Are they providing you with inspiration to do something different?

Tip 4: Keep it simple.

Easier said than done; however, the less words the better. If you can connect the words to the experience your customers expect, so much the better. Tesco with “Every little helps” is a great example of this.

Tip 5: Highlight one key benefit.

To stand apart, and highlight your core mission, focus on one key area of your business and find a way to integrate it into your strapline. If you can do that, it will create a great first impression and you’ll be on your way to securing your worth in the mind of your customer. FedEx went this way with “when it absolutely, positively has to be there overnight”.

Tip 6: Ignore tip 5.

Go for something that’s applicable to everything you do, not just one particular product, service or benefit. Apple with “Think different” is one of the classics.

Tip 7: Incorporate your name.

This is great for linking your brand with a solution or experience. Good examples include “You can do it if you B&Q it” and “Have a break, have a KitKat”.

Tip 8: Keep it grounded in reality.

Perception is the promises you make, but reality is the promises you keep. You may really want to focus on after sales service; however, is that a genuine strength of the business? Saying it does not make it true. You don’t want a disconnect between what you promise and what you can deliver.

Tip 9: Nouns and adjectives and verbs, oh my!

Write down all the nouns, adjectives, and verbs you associate with your brand. This will help you play around with different options when it comes to a slogan. These options will come in handy when we look at the action plan after tip ten.

Tip 10: Make it a call to action.

Ultimately, all businesses want their customers to do something. Consider making your strapline a request compelling customers to do business with you, or learn more about your company. Yellow Pages invited you to “Let your fingers do the walking”.

Armed with some tips and tricks, now’s the time to gather your team and brainstorm. If you have staff, a big team, and a fancy office that’s fantastic; however, for most of us, the team will be you, maybe a co-founder, and a few friends or family members gathered around a table.

Ask your team to think about your brand and your customers. What kind of message would get their attention?

Hopefully this will be a fun process for everyone. Some things to think about might include:

  • What are some words that describe what you do?
  • Who is buying your products or services?
  • Make a list of traits.
  • What can you promise?
  • What are your values/ethics?
  • What inspires you?

If you don’t have enough words from the above exercise, do a brainstorm or word dump session. Don’t over think this. Give it a time limit, maybe 10 minutes. This way your thoughts will pour out uncensored. Write down everything you can think of related to your business. Don’t hold back with this as it can be the unusual connections that give the best results.

What is nothing comes from this? Maybe objects work better than words for you. If so, get old magazines and cut out images and headlines that resonate with you. Again, it can be the unusual connections that give the best results, so feel free to have fun.

Probably, you’ve now got a lengthy list of words that all combine into a nearly there but not perfect bunch of assorted ideas.

Now start to organise your thoughts and create some options. Highlight your favourites.

Take your time with this. Strapline writing isn’t easy and you can be assured that many hours of deliberation went into any of the memorable lines mentioned in this post. Respect your strapline and give it the time it deserves.

To finish up,  here are the strapline answers. How many did you get?

  • Exceedingly good cakes – Mr Kipling
  • Just do it – Nike
  • The world’s local bank – HSBC
  • Vorsprung durch Technik – Audi
  • Music for everyone – Spotify
  • Taste the rainbow – Skittles

Author Bio

Neil Leslie is a Business Growth Manager (BGM) for the Building Legacies programme and specialises in supporting clients who make, create, and innovate.

Neil provides the following areas of support to his Building Legacies clients who want to turn creative capital into actual capital: business planning that turns complex ideas into relatable, fundable stories; financial planning using words, pictures, and numbers; process planning, aligning efficiency with ambition.

Follow Neil on Twitter

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