How to Write a Good Tagline

How to Write a Good Tagline

Is it obvious what your business is about as soon as somebody lands on your website? Because if it’s not, there’s a good chance the people who land on it won’t stick around for long — after all, they’re not really sure how you can help them, so why should they stick around?

Some brands can get away with vague, non-descriptive taglines.

I’m Lovin’ It
Open Happiness
Just Do It
Because You’re Worth It
Gives You Wings

You don’t need me to tell you which brands the taglines above represent, because they’re fucking massive and everyone knows them. So, yeah, some brands can get away with the whole vague tagline thing.

Yours is not one of them.

The Role of a Good Tagline

Your tagline needs to convey precisely what it is you do. If someone chances upon your site, sees a mysterious tagline and can’t quite figure out what you’re all about, they’re outta there. You’ve lost a potential customer.

Instead, what you want is for someone to land on your site and instantly understand:

  • What problem you can help solve
  • Why you should be the one to do it

In essence, you need to come up with a succinct line that conveys what you do and explains who you do it for. The first part lets people know how you can help them, and the second part gives them something to relate to and makes them want you to be the one to help them. Because you get them, man.

Below are some fucking excellent taglines. They’re clever and precise. (Yours doesn’t need to be this good, but it does need to make sense.)

Get Rich Slowly: Personal finance that makes cents (LOVE THIS SO HARD)
Itty Biz: We build businesses. Even little ones
Make a Living Writing: Practical help for hungry writers
Nerd Fitness: Level up your life

You know without even visiting what each one of those websites is about, right? And that’s how you need your tagline to work, too.

(As an aside: each of those has a great business name, too. Some people say that your business name doesn’t matter that much, but it does — especially when you’re just starting out.)

Here’s How I Write Taglines

My process for coming up with taglines is surprisingly simple. Let’s take mine as an example.

Helping badass businesses write smokin’ hot words.

I start by asking myself a few questions:

  1. What are the different names for what I do?
  2. What are the different names for the people I do it for?
  3. What are some descriptive words that fit with my values and reflect what I’m all about?

And then I make lists. Big long lists of everything that comes to mind — even the crap I know I will never use. Just get it all down on paper.

1. What are the different names for what I do?
Writing, blog posts, web copy, copywriting, wordsmith, web content, SEO writing, article writing, copy, blogging, words, language, branding, marketing.

2. What are the different names for the people I do it for?
Entrepreneurs, freelancers, brands, companies, business owners, small business owners, businesses, biz owners, small biz owners, startups.

3. What are some descriptive words that fit with my values and reflect what I’m all about?
Untamed, wild, sassy, tough, fierce, rebellious, unruly, brazen, rule-breaking, ball-busting, feisty, like a boss, smokin’ hot, badass.

Once I’ve got my lists, I start experimenting with different combinations. And uh, that’s it really. (Told you it was simple.) Keep mixing things up until you come up with something you like.

My tagline went through several incarnations before I landed on one that felt right. And it’ll probably change again in the future. But right now, it accurately reflects my business. It does the job: conveys what I do and who I do it for.

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    15 Comments

      1. Funny you should say that, Lisa! That’s actually one of the first ideas I came up with for my tagline, but somehow it didn’t quite feel right. I think it’s because “wild words” isn’t really what I do – to me that conveys a certain randomness to what I do, whereas I think of untamed as more like… rule breaking.

        That’s another important thing to note actually: when thinking of your tagline, does it feel right?

    1. This is a great post, Karen. Such a simple and effective technique with those 3 questions you gave. I’m going to play around with it. Stoked for your upcoming writing class. I’m looking forward to it!

      1. Hey Darwin, glad you found it useful. Let me know what taglines you come up with! I’m looking forward to starting the class too – it’s gonna rock (if I say so myself)!

    2. Do you think it’s better to start writing before coming up with a tagline and title for a blog? I have a range of diverse interests and topics that I’d like to write about but I’m not sure yet how I can help people or why anyone. Any problem with writing and modifying until I find out what I’m doing?

      1. Hey Carlos, I absolutely would just start writing – no problem with figuring it out as you go along, especially if you’re writing for the joy of it. As time goes on, it’ll probably become apparent what your favourite topics are and how you can help people. I’d say eventually it’ll be good to narrow your focus, rather than writing about everything that interests you, if you want to grow an audience (unlikely everyone will have ALL the same interests as you) but for now just start writing and see how it pans out. Once you’ve got more of an idea of the direction you’d like to take things in, you can start thinking about your tagline/title. (Also no reason you can’t choose something now and change it later!) Good luck – and just start writing!

      1. Hey Stacey, there’s really no standard length a tagline should be, although the fewer words you can convey your meaning in the better, because it means people will be able to see what you do at a glance and won’t have to think too hard. Which is good, because you want to make things as easy as possible for people.

    3. Karen, I am completely new to this blog thing… I’m a livestock lover, college student, and fashion gooroo. Can you give me any tips on how to jumble all of that together in some sort of way.

      1. Hey Samantha, what is it you want to accomplish with your blog? Will you just be writing it for fun? If so, I’d say go ahead and just get started – write about whatever takes your fancy! Over time you will naturally notice what people are most interested in (through comments, likes, etc.), and so you can shift your focus.

        If you want to make some sort of business, I’d say figure out what area you can help people with (out of the interests you listed) and focus on that one topic. Somebody who needs help with livestock may not be interested in fashion, and vice versa – so it makes sense to pick one topic/area and go with that, so you can build an engaged audience.

    4. How would one approach writing a tagline for themselves? One assignment I have been given is to write a tagline for myself, like how Abraham Lincoln is known as ‘Honest Abe.’

    5. Hello Karen, I have an idea for a boutique I want to open. Name: Sugarcane Avenue Clothing Tagline: look Sweet. feel Sweeter

    6. Hi. Im a textile designer and I design fashion accessories mainly bags. Im finding it difficult to come up with a tag line. My brand name is Zenera which means window. My products are mostly funky and unique. What matters most to me is customer’s happiness. I get overwhelming response from customers when they receive the product and truly love them. If you can help out please?

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