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What Is It With These Corny Taglines??

July 27, 2011

Something that’s been bothering me for some time now is all of these totally corny, clichéd, self serving, fatuous and vague taglines that businesses come up with. Personally, when I read one of these ridiculous taglines on a company’s website (or business card, or signage), I just don’t take them very seriously, business-wise. There have been a few times when a client has offered up a tagline that made me cringe – a tagline for  their start-up company that reads something like this:

DPR Insurance – Your Trusted Name in Insurance. Can you get any more time-worn or clichéd? Certainly this company is not my “trusted” name, nor anyone else’s. And I won’t go into the use of initials as a business name again! (more cringe, cringe). It’s covered in another article here.

Or what about this one: Jake’s Auto Repair – Your Choice for Automotive Care. Yawn. Not my choice!

Some of the difficulty people have with taglines comes from a confusion between slogans and taglines. A slogan is a simple, dynamic phrase that evokes an emotion or establishes the character of a brand. Nike’s “Just Do It,” for instance, doesn’t say anything about athletic shoes. But it does create a feeling about the company. Taglines, on the other hand, are descriptive phrases that tell what the company or organization does. A tagline has to actually help others understand your business better and have some kind of meaning or it’s useless at best, pompous at worst.

In terms of your web presence, having an effective tagline is far more important, in my view, than having a catchy slogan. When someone lands on your website, you absolutely want to make sure they immediately understand what it is your company actually does, what it sells, what it makes. If you can accomplish that with a bit of pizzazz, all the better!

The process of coming up with a tagline can be as easy as this:

DPR Insurance – Assuring You are Covered When You Most Need It

OR,  simply

DPR Insurance – Life, Auto, Home – We’ve Got You Covered

There are so many examples of bad taglines and good taglines, what works and what is simply mundane, boring or ridiculous. Tons of articles exist about the dos and don’ts in the creating of taglines. In fact,  I found this excellent article which pretty much sums it up. Therefore, I’ll let Thomas Young, MBA, CEO of Intuitive Websites  take over from here;.

Website Taglines

By: Thomas Young, MBA

Writing a catchy tagline may be the most important part of your home page content.  The tagline is the sales hook, the most compelling message on your home page and often the starting point in your Website’s conversion strategy.

What is a Tagline?

Taglines are 8-12 word phrases that explain the key benefits of your company.  They can be set up as part of your logo, in photo captions, questions, bullet items or other small blocks of text on the site.  Taglines are critical because people scan Websites, especially first time visitors who are just beginning to understand your company.

Taglines are not slogans or catchy phrases that support the brand like Nike’s “Just Do It” or Chevy’s “An American Revolution.”  These slogans only work when connected to the brand and do not work on their own.  However, most small and medium sized firms don’t have a national brand that is a household name, so their tagline should clarify what the company is about.

Tagline Mistakes

By far the biggest tagline mistake companies make is using a tagline that is generic, cryptic, or not understood by the Website visitor.  Most Web users simply overlook meaningless taglines and give them little or no value.  Marketers regularly confuse taglines with slogans.  Another common mistake is to use internal “company-speak” that is not understood by the Website visitors.  Many Websites do not have a tagline and use a block of text on their home page that is not easily scanned. Others put their taglines into flash or moving text images so that it disappears and makes the user work to read it.  Some cluttered sites may have four or five taglines pulling the visitor in several directions.

Examples of Bad Taglines

Here are a few examples of actual taglines and slogans from the Internet from medium sized businesses.  Visit these Websites and see the comments below to better understand how taglines should be written.

  • It’s about time.  What will you do with yours? (trustamerica.com)
  • Colorado’s premier destination resort (decasno.com)
  • Leading IT service and support (thinkhdi.com)
  • Solutions…(geba.com)
  • Where sales people click and connect instantly (salesspider.com)
  • In Control, In Command (pcstelcom.com)
  • Welcome (aqua-hot.com)

I could go on and on.  Let’s take a look at these taglines and slogans and see if we can get them to make sense.

Trust Company of America (TCA) – TrustAmerica.com

Tagline: It’s about time.  What will you do with yours?

Many financial services Websites use generic taglines that don’t usually connect with the visitor or their target market.  This company provides service to financial planners that will save them time.  A stronger tagline would read:

* “We provide the back-end support so you save time.”

Questions can also work with taglines:

* “Are you wasting time with administrative work?”

These taglines do a much better job of getting at the heart of the issue for financial planner’s that will hire TCA.

Double Eagle Casino – Decasino.com

Tagline: Colorado’s premier destination resort

The first major problem here is the Double Eagle is not a resort, but a casino.  This is a much better descriptive tagline:

* “Cripple Creek Colorado’s premier destination casino.”

They can also include a differentiator in the tagline like this:

* “Cripple Creek Colorado’s premier destination casino, book online.”
* “Cripple Creek Colorado’s premier destination casino offering hot slots and more.”
* “Cripple Creek Colorado’s premier destination casino with the original Roll the Dice.”

HDI – ThinkHDI.com

Tagline: Leading IT service and support

Their tagline is generic and thousands of companies could use it.  The tagline does not say what they do.

* “Training IT professionals to become excellent at service and support.”

Does that clear things up?  Of course we are assuming the user knows what IT means.

GEBA – Geba.com

Tagline: Solutions…

The word “solutions” is probably the most common used word in taglines on the Web.  In this case it is the only word in the tagline.  In fact, none of the static content on the home page describes what GEBA actually does.  A strong tagline will do just that like this tagline:

* “Helping organizations make the right decisions about health insurance and financial security.”

Sales Spider – SalesSpider.com

Taglines:

  • Where sales people click and connect instantly
  • Other social networks make you friends. Sales Spider makes you money.
  • Join now for free.
  • Build an instant network of contacts.

To name a few…

I recently received a sales call from this organization and for the life of me could not figure out what they do and how they could help me.  Their Website made me more confused and their multiple taglines did not help. How does the site make money?

Their tagline seems to be:

* “When we figure out how you make money, we’ll let you know.”

Actually, the very small tagline in fine print below their logo is the most informative tagline.  The question is, how does it make you money?  Maybe this sums it up.

* “Meet people online that you can sell.”

The Website has many taglines and most of them come and go in a flash ad on the home page.

PCS – Pcstelcom.com

Tagline: “In Command. In Control”

This company does not need a slogan because they are not a national brand.  What does that tagline mean?   PCS provides telephone systems for prisons and are marketing to large prison systems who will purchase and install their phone systems.  How about this tagline:

* “A leader in customized, comprehensive telecommunication products and services for prisons.”

That means more to the user than “In Control. In Command.”

Aqua-Hot Heating Systems – Aqua-Hot.com

Tagline: Welcome

Another very popular tagline is the word “welcome.”  This is a left over from the early days of the Web.  This Website uses a block of text on their home page that really needs a tagline. Pretty much everything that is said in that block of text can be summed up in this tagline:

* “Never run out of hot water in your RV.”

Where to Find Great Taglines

A couple areas to see good uses of taglines are newspapers and magazine article headers and photo captions.  They have learned the importance of capturing the scanning reader and driving them into content.  Also, great marketing companies like Starbucks and Apple make great use of taglines on the Web.

Take a look at your taglines from the perspective of your Website visitors and ask if they make sense and help clarify your company’s message and move your Website visitors deeper in to the site?

Can you think of other examples of good or bad taglines you’ve come across?

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8 Comments leave one →
  1. September 13, 2011 10:00 pm

    I remember now what I meant to ask about earlier. What I think tripped me up is that I always thought that the tagline was more of what you call a slogan and the place to describe what it is that you do is in the title or immediately after your title.

    Vena Jensen, Owner, Small Business Consultant
    Helping Green Businesses Grow and Connect

    or something like that.

    I thought the “tagline” was supposed to be something catchy that helps people remember the name or “cool” that distinguishes you.

    I see I have a lot to learn. I am a willing and open student. Thank you.

    • sherrymk permalink*
      September 14, 2011 10:00 am

      Hi Vena, I think that, rather than get caught up in slogans vs taglines, etc etc, or trying to come up with something ‘catchy” is to just make sure that it is clear to people what it is you actually do, what your business actually is. “Helping Green Businesses Grow and Connect” is great. I know immediately the gist of your business. That. really. is the main point.
      I had forgotten I made that comment about “Clarity Green” sounding like a name. Adding “Connections” to the end is better. The “Clarity Green” still sounds like a name to me though. Like it’s “Clarity Green”s Connections. But that’s just me and maybe this isn’t an issue with anyone else, so please just take this comment with a “grain of salt”! (google – “the name “Clarity””).
      Clarity Green Connections
      Helping Green Businesses Grow and Connect

      At any rate, it seems like you’re moving right along with getting your business going. I congratulate you on all your detailed efforts! And I read your article you referenced from your website. Truly an inspiring and well written essay. As you state: Merging purpose with profit is the great challenge of our times.

      • September 15, 2011 12:20 pm

        I love it! Thanks Sherry. I had come up with “Training, consulting and social media marketing that helps small businesses grow and connect” but yours is much shorter and easier to “get.” This feedback is MOST APPRECIATED!!! P.S. I reserved the domain name for “The Inspired Ecopreneur” after your comment about Clarity Green sounding like a person’s name but my inspired ecopreneur participants balked at doing away with “Clarity Green.” Sigh. You can’t please everyone all the time. Apparently they feel very connected to the name, so I decided it was doing it’s job. For now, at least. :-) I named the curriculum (that I’m still developing) “The Inspired Ecopreneur” so we’ll see where that leads. I really appreciate your helping me past this block! How are things going for you? I received a LOT of positive feedback on your “Logo” article, especially in LinkedIn – nice job!

      • sherrymk permalink*
        September 16, 2011 7:35 am

        I’m happy to give my input anytime Vena! And thank you for spreading our article around to your LinkedIn connections. We try and write at least one article a month. I’ll let you know when the next one’s up. Will I see you at the meet up next Thurs?

  2. September 13, 2011 9:41 pm

    Thank you both for your feedback. And I’ve done a lot of work clarifying my business concept since I saw you, Sherry, and still am struggling a bit to figure out how to merge and communicate the three aspects of my business. Just last week I realized that if I target my “niche” to “green businesses” I might be more effective. Here’s the post that changed it all for me and helped me realize the direction in which I want to head. http://www.claritygreen.com/2011/07/25/eco-entrepreneurs-seek-balance-between-wealth-health/

    Since that post I’ve started a weekly meetings for “ecopreneurs.” There are currently 15 members in the “beta” group. It’s going fabulously. Better than I ever could have imagined. .

    I get it that targeting a niche is a more effective way of doing business but, for me, the process of figuring out what that niche is and how to bring my unique perspective, talent and background to it has been a struggle. I’m still working on it.

    Thank you for the vital information and feedback. It helps tremendously. I’ll be working on my tagline, Sherry.

    P.S. I took your comment at our networking meeting that “Clarity Green” sounded like someone’s name to heart and worked on a new name. By adding “connections” I feel I better describe my business and professionalize it. The best part? My ecopreneur group helped me choose it. :-)

  3. September 12, 2011 4:54 pm

    Vena, glad that the article started you thinking. If I were to just read your business name and tagline, I would think that it was a way for “green” businesses (companies that are adopting environmentally-friendly practices) to connect with each other and share ideas. I would think that somewhere the idea of business consulting, training and coaching should be more clearly expressed.

  4. September 12, 2011 12:56 pm

    This is a great article – very helpful.

    I just searched both Starbucks and Apple Computer’s websites and I couldn’t find a tagline anywhere. I couldn’t even find a company name. I did find their logos. Since they are major corporations I’m guessing they feel they don’t need a company name or tagline and I agree.

    I am still working on developing my business to prepare for launch. I have chosen a target market (small businesses), niche (ecopreneurs), and business name (Clarity Green Connections.) Clarity represents the business consulting, training and coaching aspect of the business. Green represents the green business aspect, and Connections represents the groups I facilitate as well as the social media services I will be providing.

    The tagline I am using now is: “Achieve Clarity. Go Green. Get Connected.” I liked it because it mirrors the name of my business, Clarity Green Connections, and implies action. But now that I have read your article I am questioning this tagline because it doesn’t really explain what the business offers. Not very clearly, at least. It sort of does.

    I would love to have feedback from anyone reading this. The question is: does the tagline “Achieve Clarity. Go Green. Get Connected.” meet the criteria of this article? Does it work because of it’s appeal even if it doesn’t quite meet the criteria?

    Thank you in advance for your perspective.

    http://www.claritygreen.com

    • sherrymk permalink*
      September 12, 2011 1:39 pm

      Honestly, without your explanation, I would never know what your tagline really means nor what your actual business is. On first reading, it sounds like somehow, one is going to acheive clarity by going green and possibly encouraging one to become connected. From meeting you that one time, I thought you were moving into more consulting on social media, internet marketing, SEO, etc albeit, now I see you are going for “ecopreneurs”. . I’d work more on that tagline so it more reflects what it is you actually do. (helping green companies expand and connect with the rest of the world)

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