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Tag Line Calisthenics

by Marcia Yudkin, Head Stork, Named At Last

A terrific tag line sets you apart from other businesses and provides a memorable and appealing reason to choose your firm over other options. The tag line should trail your company name like a shadow everywhere - in ads, on your web site, on business cards and in on-hold telephone messages, to name a few places.

Before assessing your own tag line, warm up by looking at a category of Yellow Pages ads or flip through your local business paper. First, you'll undoubtedly notice an epidemic of companies whose tag lines are missing in action. Rate those you do see from the viewpoint of a potential customer.

Let's Examine Real Tag Lines

Here's my ten-spot workout from looking at ads in BusinessWest, the twice-monthly paper covering Western Massachusetts business.

1. 5 points - honest.expert.driven
This ad featured a picture of a vintage Cadillac, compounding my confusion about what kind of business this is. 5 points does not do car repair, however. It creates custom web-based applications. So thumbs down; the business name and tag line together should make it crystal clear what the company does.

2. Charter Business - The Way Business Works
Not as misleading as #1, yet the tag line is just too vague to help the reader understand what line of business this firm is in, much less why one should select them over competitors.

3. Spa on the Green - Organic Skin Care & Body Treatments
Nicely specific. I know what they do and how they differ from other spas. If they're not the only spa in the area featuring organic products, though, this tag line isn't distinct enough.

4. Richard A. McCullough, Inc. - Building Homes of Distinction Since 1953
We know this is a high-end residential builder with more than 50 years of experience. The tag line could have a little pizzazz to be more appealing, but it gets a passing grade.

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5. Southbridge Savings Bank - Preserving the past, building for the future. Since 1848
Although there's a nice ring to this one, from the customer's point of view it's not clear why we should care about the architectural consciousness alluded to in the tag line. Preserving whose past? Its own? Downtown Southbridge's? Not quite on target.

6. PeoplesBank - Great relationships start here.
Oh, so if I'm looking for romance, I should get a job at PeoplesBank? Do they have a matchmaking service? This tag line too doesn't narrow in enough on the types of images evoked.

7. Wolf & Company, P.C., Certified Public Accountants and Business Consultants - Insight and Integrity
What a sad commentary on today's business environment, when a CPA firm feels the need to say that it has integrity. Even so, honesty and integrity are qualities that no company can ever credibly claim about itself. Only third parties can attest to an individual's or company's moral virtues. In addition, when you bring up integrity as an issue, you get customers thinking about complications you don't want them to be pondering while considering hiring you.

8. Mercy Medical Center - Our mission is to heal. Our passion is to care.
Rah-rah! Mission statements should be used to rally your own troops, not to motivate customers. The people you serve don't care about your aspirations, only about the benefits you actually deliver. So for the target market, this tag line evokes skepticism.

9. Springfield Day Nursery - Early Care and Education at its Best... Since 1883
This tag line was so startling that I looked very closely to see if I had read the date correctly. I rate this tag line highly because as a whole, it sparks curiosity. As a potential day care parent, I'd want to know more about this place and how it's survived and updated its care for kids over such a long period of time.

10. Westbank - On your corner. In your corner.
Finally, a winner. This tag line is crisp, snazzy and persuasive. It gives me a memorable rationale for choosing this bank over competitors.

Need assistance or advice?  Get help coming up with a catchy tag line or company slogan.

Copyright 2007 Marcia Yudkin.  No reprinting or republishing without written permission.

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