How a Tagline is Made (the Creative Copywriting Process)

Taglines have always been my favorite kind of copy to write, mainly because there's so much going on in so few words. I thought it might be fun, then, to show you how a tagline is made. This is my quick process, and does not include the extensive user testing you might get at an advertising agency. I have worked at places where we've mocked up user profiles in order to help visualize the kinds of people we're talking to. If you find that sort of thing useful, then go for it.

I'm not going to get into what makes a tagline legendary, or who has the best ones, but here are a few things all taglines should do:

  1. Attract and appeal to the right audience
  2. Somehow communicate the service provided (directly or creatively)
  3. Highlight the benefits of using the service (people want results)
  4. Be memorable/catchy

I'm using my friends at Unbounce for this example, but nothing here is official.

Step one: Word mapping

It begins with a word map. That means writing down every word and phrase you can think of, that's relevant to your business and what your business offers. Naturally, the more relevant, high-level stuff will be grouped towards the top. It's important to get everything out of your head, since you'll use this map in steps two and three.

Step two: Open your mind and think

This part is mysterious and sometimes a bit frustrating. It's difficult to explain, as well, but it's like trying to wish the night away when you can't sleep; you can't do it, but wait it out long enough, and the light will come. 

 

What you're trying to do, is to connect those keywords from step one, with the needs and wants of your customers. If you'd like to create a word map for what your customers are looking for, that can help to reconcile these two spheres of thought.

Step three: Get all of your ideas down

You'll probably want to vet your ideas as they come out, but don't. The worst thing you can do at this point is to try and edit your ideas as they come. Stephen King says that "a notebook is the best way in the world to immortalize bad ideas", but in this instance, there are no bad ideas. Get everything down, because there's something about seeing a tagline written out, which allows you to see its full potential, should it have any at all.

Step four: Pick your top three

From your list, pick the three you feel represent your brand's offering the best, and which answer the needs of your audience most appropriately. Write them down separately. 

Step five: Choose and refine

Once you've made your final decision, it's likely that even then, your choice can be improved by tweaking one of a few things:

Positivity — People want results, and the best taglines promise results. A positive tone full of active, results-focused words is way better than preying on fear and insecurity. 

Word order — Switch the order of your words around. Where certain words appear in your tagline, can have a huge impact on the message you deliver. 

Unnecessary words — If you can cut it, cut it.

Here are the three taglines I chose, with analysis.

'YOUR CUSTOMERS LOVE OUR LANDING PAGES.'

Analysis: From a copywriting perspective, this is my favorite. It tells a business-minded audience what Unbounce do, and why they should choose them. It's confident, memorable and a little bit cheeky. Is it technical and professional enough? Maybe not.

'BUILD, LAUNCH & TEST LANDING PAGES — NO CODE REQUIRED.'

Analysis: It's not flashy or original, but it communicates exactly what the service is, and how easy it is to use. It rolls off the tongue nicely, and would do the job as long-term tagline just fine. 

'BUILD. LAUNCH. TEST. CONVERT. PROFIT.'

Analysis: Most business owners and busy marketers would appreciate this one. Using the tagline to walk potential customers/users through the process to a result, is another good way of thinking about what a tagline ought to do. My biggest criticism of this one, is that without prior knowledge, you might think we were talking about rockets.

And there you go, one quick method for creating decent taglines, whether you're a small business owner, or a marketer in charge of that sort of thing. If you'd rather I took care of it all for you, I'd be totally ok with that. Use the button below to contact me.