What is a tagline, and how can I write a good one? That’s the question I’m going to answer today. Read on to learn all about brand and website taglines, plus my top tips for writing them!
Website taglines are really make-or-break. You know from seeing them in the wild — while watching ads on Hulu (can we get back to the show already?), on a website homepage, or even on branded packaging on a recent purchase.
You’re here because you’re trying to write one and all you’re landing is… nothing. Whether your page is mercilessly blank or you have a crapload of taglines that sound awful, I’m breaking down what you need to know to write a good one.
This definition best sums it up: “a short memorable description that succinctly and clearly communicates the brand message.”
That last part is key. Your tagline can and should emphasize your brand message. Which means if you’re struggling to write a tagline, going back to your core message is the quickest way to get back on track.
Something to remember about taglines: It is NOT an ‘I help’ statement. Although it’s easy to confuse a website tagline with your one-liner or elevator pitch, these are definitely not the same thing. When it comes to honing your homepage headline you won’t necessarily be able to write a 3-line ‘I help BLANK do BLANK so they can BLANK’ kind of sentence above the fold and peace out.
In the digital world we creative business owners live in, we need branded, original copywriting that says what we do uniquely, powerfully, and memorably.
Your goal with a tagline is to convey differentiating elements in a pithy but meaningful way. Keep it concise and you’ll get more mileage out of your words.
Short answer: they can be. Often, when I’m developing a brand messaging strategy for a client, I may end up using a tagline as the first line people read on the homepage, but this isn’t absolute.
The basic structure I generally follow to write an above-the-fold section is this:
CLARIFIER: This is a tagline-ish statement that is essentially WHAT you do without dressing this up in cutesy wording. Currently, mine is ‘brand messaging and website copywriting for creative people.’ This can come in between 2-10 words. It could be as simple as ‘Web Design for Creatives.’ If you’re not sure, visit your SEO strategy and determine the #1 word you’d like to rank for. That’s often the basis for your clarifier. Tag it as an H1 headline and you’re golden.
TAGLINE: The clever sibling of the clarifier, a tagline can be both brand- and outcome-driven. You can be a bit more *fancy* with your phrasing in your tagline, but don’t be too cute or you’ll lose them.
CALL TO ACTION: The button copy that sends people to the next best action. Typically, this would be your services page. There’s often not enough buy-in yet for people to fill out your contact form. Besides, don’t you want them to read the pretty website you just created?!
(If you’re writing a tagline for a brand or a specific campaign, you can skip this part.)
You know the second answer to that question is absolutely no (lol). You need a tagline to show people (1) you get who they are and why they’re here on your website, (2) what you offer is in line with what they are looking for, (3) they know how freaking awesome you & your service are so they can’t wait to reach out, and (4) what you offer is remarkably different from other service providers. Don’t make the mistake of thinking you need to be the only person in the world offering the service you do. But also, don’t sound like everyone else.
Taglines are a brilliant opportunity to get in front of people and show them that you are exactly what they’ve been looking for.
The best way to hit gold is to start digging. That means iterating lots of taglines. Whether on paper or in a Google Doc, you’ll have to draft some text so you can whittle it down and find what you’re looking for.
If you’re blocked and don’t know what to write, reflect upon your brand and think about some core differentiators. Answer this question: What do I want to be known for? That will help you determine how you’d like your dream client to see you so that you know what to say to them to evoke the right response. It may also help to build up a word bank of meaningful words, phrases, and ideas that you’d like to implement into this line. How do you want it to sound, feel, and be?
Now that we have a few differentiators, try focusing on one at a time. Instead of trying to pack everything into a tagline, try isolating and emphasizing different elements. Create language around each one and see what’s resonating most with you.
Once you narrow it down, try pairing it with your clarifier, decide what action you’d like your clients to take, and get cracking on the rest of your website!