We want the best, or we want the cheapest: How to write perfect taglines

Great (long) read by my friend Martin Soler.
Get the full version on his blog here

simone puorto - tagline

Working with students, hotels and travel tech companies I've come to realize that taglines are often misunderstood if not totally abused. The tagline is everything - it is the one sentence that explains the entire business, product, hotel, project or whatever else you're trying to promote or sell.

Test a tagline by replacing the logo or company name. Does the same tagline still work? It most probably does. In fact you could probably take a totally unrelated company, plug in the same tagline, and it will still work - which is the worst a tagline can get.

Your tagline should describe your business, very very clearly.

1. RESEARCH SATISFIED CUSTOMERS ONLY
To find out what is unique, special or different about your product or hotel, the most objective way to do it is go talk to customers. But not just any customer, you need to select only the most satisfied customers. You don't want to know what they think about your product, hotel or company. You want to know what they LOVE about it.

2. WORKING OUT THE ANGLE
Hotels will notice that it comes down to a combination of Location, Comfort and Value. One or two of those three will be where the hotel is considered great.

Once you have determined what is unique about your business, hotel or any other business or product, you need to qualify it. You must put it in context in order to give the reader a clear idea of what your business does and what they will get from it.

3. PLACING IT IN CONTEXT
Putting it in context means making it clear why this is the best or the cheapest option for the customer. It doesn't mean that "best" or "cheap" needs to be in the tagline but nobody wants to buy something that is second rate. We want the best, or we want the cheapest. When you qualify a product, company or hotel's tagline try to figure out what it is the best in, or the cheapest. This may not be used in the text but will help tremendously when you're going to write additional copy.

The final step of working out your tagline is the artistic part. Now you need to work your language skills to convert the data into something that is easy to read and which instantly communicates the concept to the reader. If you have done your homework well, this shouldn't be too hard if you have any wordsmith skills. And if you don't, you can always hand it over to someone who does.

4. PITFALLS TO AVOID

a) DON'T GET TOO CLEVER
Clever can work if you're really good. But most of the time it doesn't. The problem with being overly clever is people remember the clever line but they don't remember the brand or product. Rather than being clever, be direct and clear. Being direct is so much more useful than any level of poetry. By being direct you are helping the customer understand instantly, and they will thank you for it. 

b) FORGETTING THE CUSTOMER
Sounds obvious, but the tagline needs to be something that the customer will get, which is too often forgotten. “Best view in New York” is something they will get. “Decorated by Joe Smith” is cool but is could alienate some or be easily forgotten. So, after you have written your tagline, spend some time to clear your thoughts and and re-read it as if you were the customer: Is this something you will benefit from?

c) MISSING FILTERS
Words act as filters, if you use them right. By putting the right keywords in your tagline, you will attract the right visitors. If your tagline is too broad your customer won't realize that you are talking to them. Unlike click bait, which is designed for everyone to click, you are better off with fewer but better  qualified people trying your hotel, company or app. 

d) LITTLE WHITE LIES
Nothing will kill your marketing and reputation faster than lies, even little, white ones. If you deliver on what promised and slightly exceed expectations, customers will be happy and mention it. The minute you start stretching the truth in your tagline to "optimise sales" you begin what can rapidly become a downward spiral. 

e) NON-DESCRIPTIVE
A tagline must be descriptive. It needs to say extremely clearly what it is about. If you remove all imagery and logo, is it clear?  To test how descriptive it is, remove all imagery and brand names and any supporting text. Do you still understand what it is about? Do you understand what you will get? Do you understand what it does? These questions need to be answered clearly.

So once you have written a clear tagline, that reads well and describes the product or company you have the core part for the rest of your story. The tagline sets the tone, you can vary it in your descriptions, build talking points around it and more. With the tagline set, you can start the build the story, and everything needs to communicate around the message in the tagline and in as many ways as possible direct back to the tagline. You never alter the line once you’ve worked it out, it stays the same and you use it again and again and again. Until it becomes synonymous with the brand.