How to come up with a tagline for your business

Website copy

I love coming up with taglines for businesses. They’re probably one of my favourite things to work on, alongside websites.

I enjoy diving deep to uncover the essence of a brand and get excited by the strategy, creativity and wordplay it often involves. Yes, okay, I’m a word nerd!

There’s no hard and fast magic formula for creating taglines. Like anything in copywriting, it’s part art, part science. But if you’re wondering how to come up with a tagline for your business, there are definitely some tips and steps I can share.

But before we dig into those, let’s take a look at exactly what a tagline is (and isn’t) and the benefits of having a good one.

So what exactly is a tagline?

A tagline is an engaging, memorable catchphrase or one-liner that sums up what your business is all about.  It’s one aspect of your brand identity.

I’m lovin’ it (McDonald’s). Just do it (Nike). Go, Harvey, Go (Harvey Norman). The fresh food people (Woolies).

These are just a few of the taglines you no doubt know. In fact, they’re probably so ingrained in your brain you can sing the jingle that goes with them.

Even if you didn’t see the brand’s name next to them, you’d immediately know who they were. That’s the sign of a great creative tagline.

While often used interchangeably, taglines are different to slogans.

Slogans are temporary taglines used in specific marketing campaigns. Brand taglines, on the other hand, stick around for years.

The benefits of business taglines

Taglines are worth having for lots of reasons.

Not only can they help you stand out from the competition, but they also make your brand more memorable (assisting in brand recall), quickly communicate your unique selling proposition and build an emotional connection.

Coming up with a business tagline also gives you space to pause, think about your brand and explore what makes you unique.

Elements of a great tagline

Just because the tagline examples above come from big brands with big budgets, that’s not to say you can’t come up with a tagline just as good.

When you break them down, great taglines have several things in common:

  • They support brand positioning – They communicate your value proposition, differentiate you from the competition (why are you better/different) and establish an emotional connection.
  • They’re short and sweet – They’re short and memorable. The best taglines are 3-6 words long. This ensures they’re easy to remember and quick to communicate your message.
  • They convey a single idea or benefit – They emphasise a single benefit or idea which offers a greater chance of making a lasting impression on the target audience.
  • They use powerful language – They choose words that are impactful, persuasive, and evoke emotions. This includes action verbs, vivid adjectives, or strong metaphors.
  • They speak the audience’s language – They consider tone of voice, culture, language proficiency and speak to the emotions and motivations of their audience.
  • They’re clear and specific – They ensure the audience understands the intended message. In other words, they’re not vague or wishy-washy and can’t be misinterpreted.
  • They’re timeless – They avoid using trendy buzzwords or phrases that may quickly become outdated. Great taglines remain relevant and effective for years.

How to come up with the perfect tagline

Having written many taglines for clients over the years, here are my tried and tested steps for coming up with a winner:

Step 1: Know your target audience

Professional copywriters can help you establish and promote a brand by crafting effective headlines, taglines, and advertising copy. But we can also help build and strengthen your brand by working with you to create a unique tone of voice that can be applied consistently across your communications.

What is a tone of voice? Put simply; it’s your company personality communicated through language. It reflects who you are and what you stand for. If you’re a fun, quirky business, a copywriter will communicate this using informal and playful language. If you’re formal but friendly, we’ll make it professional but not stiff.

Step 2: Define your brand

You can’t create an effective tagline until you really know your brand and business. What are your mission, vision and values? What’s your personality? What are the benefits of your product or service? What makes you different/better?

Step 3: Idea generation

Brainstorm, brainstorm, brainstorm! Start by jotting down any ideas that spring to mind, good or bad. My initial list can be pages long!

Here are some things to do for inspiration:

  • Take a look at other business taglines in your industry
  • Look at what businesses In industries completely different to yours are doing
  • Write down a list of descriptive and factual words and phrases that reflect your business and what your offer customers
  • Explore well-known quotes and sayings words relevant to your industry and business
  • Sum up your business in a single paragraph or sentence
  • Consider what emotions you want to evoke in your audience
  • Play around with synonyms and consider wordplay, puns or rhymes to make your tagline more memorable
  • Consider how each idea looks and sounds next to your business name. Alliteration is great, and I always recommend avoiding word repetition between the two
  • Ask friends, family and colleagues for ideas or suggestions or get them involved in your brainstorming session
  • Use Chat GPT or online tagline generators. The results will likely suck, but it might spark an idea or throw up a word or angle you hadn’t thought of

STEP 4: Cut, cut, cut

Once you’ve got a list of options, it’s time to be ruthless. Get rid of any that sound too generic, are too long or might have unwanted double meanings. Then play around with the ones you like. Could you make them shorter, catchier or stronger? Also, do a Google search to check they’re not used by anyone else.

STEP 5: Ask for feedback

Take your three strongest tagline options and ask people who know your brand and business well which they like best and why. It’s a great idea to ask some of your existing or prospective customers or clients, as they’re the ones you’re targeting, so it should resonate.

STEP 6: Get it out there

Once you’ve picked the winner, add it to all your marketing channels, from your website and socials to your brochures and email signatures. Sharing it ensures your audience sees it, remembers it and comes to associate the benefit, emotion or idea with your business.

Some of my client taglines

To give you some ideas and help get you started, here are some of my favourite taglines I’ve come up with for clients across different industries: 

It's time to flex those tagline muscles

So there you have it: my secrets on how to come up with an effective tagline for your business.

A few final words of advice would be don’t rush it, think outside the square and make sure those 3-6 words really give people a feel for who you are and why you’re different.

Find my tips helpful, but the creative juices still not flowing? Drop me a message, and let’s come up with a powerful tagline for your business together.