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The Top Ten Tag Line Rhythms

by Marcia Yudkin, Head Stork, Named At Last

To me, the best tag lines illustrate the kind of skill at combining sound, rhythm and meaning that poets are known for. Let's analyze the second of those elements: rhythm. This refers to patterns of stressed versus unstressed syllables and pauses versus flow. "TA-da-da TA-da-da" represents one rhythm while "Dum, dum, da-da-DUM" is quite a different one.

If you're like most people, when creating a tag line, you don't consciously think about rhythm. By overlooking the range of possible tag line rhythms, you're missing many powerful ways of creating impact with a single line. 

Here are ten tag line rhythms you should have in your repertoire, along with a few comments.

1. Quick rhyme:
Skills to pay the bills.

2. Double: 
No music, no life. 
Stories about living, advice about life. 
Practical Professionals. Practical Solutions.

3. Double-back: 
Donít live to geek, geek to live.

4. Triple: 
Trust. Commitment. Integrity. 
Experience. Expertise. Excellence. 
Service. Strategy. Success.

[While this pattern is currently fashionable, note that if a competitor of yours is using a triple, you'll be perceived as imitative, even if you've chosen three very different adjectives or nouns.]

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5. Doubled triple: 
Sometimes soulful, mainly jazzy, always smooth.

6. Lingering triple: 
Click, zip, fast round trip.

7. Repeated emphasis: 
Friends donít let friends drive drunk.
Donít leave home without it. 

[Say these out loud and you'll hear that every syllable or just about every syllable is emphasized.]

8. Initial downbeat: 
Pork. The other white meat.

9. Flowing: 
When you care enough to send the very best. 
A global law firm for the 21st century. 

[Unless you hear these in the context of the other options, you might not even notice that there's rhythm here. But this rhythm definitely has a different impact than the other options.]

10. Afterthought or zinger: 
The best thing that ever happened to men... besides women. 
We make the money the old-fashioned way ó we earn it. 

Keep this list handy so that when you're combining and recombining words for a tag line, you'll find the phrasing that works best.

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

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

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