Does Your Company Have a Tagline? It Should.

01/08/16

Does Your Company Have a Tagline? It Should.

Editor’s note: This post was contributed by Matt Rissell, CEO of TSheets. Matt’s posts will provide insight on topics such as leadership and business strategy, as part of LinkedIn Marketing Solutions: Financial Services’ new editorial series focused on diving deep into topics that matter most to financial marketers.

You might be thinking, “My company doesn’t need a tagline,” or, “Taglines don’t work.” And you’re not wrong. In fact, I might even agree with you. Some great companies do just fine without one. And if your tagline isn’t, well, good, it could even do more harm than not having one at all.

Unfortunately, the majority of taglines out there aren’t very good. In fact, they’re downright terrible.

Too many businesses have used taglines to describe exactly what they do. (Consider “Denny’s: A Good Place to Sit and Eat” or “Eat Jimmy Dean.”) These taglines are lazy, they’re boring, and they demonstrate that the companies behind them either have no idea what their true purpose is—or at least don’t know how to effectively communicate it.

Take UPS, as another example. The company has since mended its ways, but for the longest time, its tagline—the catchphrase that was created to portray its very essence to the world—was “What Can Brown Do for You?” Yuck. For one, it sounds more like a juvenile bathroom joke than a professional tagline, and even worse, it says nothing about the company or its purpose. Instead, the company resorted to asking its customers to define its purpose. Unsurprisingly, the tagline failed to generate any emotion or excitement about the business, and it was eventually changed.

On the other hand, a solid tagline (read: A great tagline) can do wonders for your business.

It not only communicates your brand promise in a clear, concise, and memorable way, but it serves as a constant reminder to you and your team of what your company truly stands for at your very core.

A great example of this is, coincidentally, UPS’s direct competitor: FedEx. Its tagline reads “The World on Time.” It showcases exactly what FedEx can do, and it evokes an emotional response in its customers. When I see “The world on time,” it tells me that FedEx prizes punctuality above all else. It tells me that my package, my message, and my world will be delivered on time. But, above all, it tells me that FedEx understands exactly what’s important to me—and it demonstrates that what’s important to me is important to it too. Would the company have achieved the same success with “Your Mail on Time?” I don’t think so.

Another great example is Nike. In the 10 years after the slogan “Just Do It” launched to go along with the famous swoosh, Nike increased its share of the domestic sport-shoe business from 18 percent to 43 percent. In dollar signs, that’s from $877 million in worldwide sales to $9.2 billion. That link between tagline and profits isn’t a coincidence, it’s studied. “The ‘Just Do It’ campaign was able to turn sweaty, pain-ridden, time-consuming exercise in Nike sneakers into something sexy and exciting,” notes the Center for Applied Research. Now, imagine if they had landed on “Just Wear our Shoes.”

So, how can you create and develop a tagline that shows the world who you are, starts a conversation around your business, and catapults your company to success?

It all starts with defining your purpose.

Take my company, TSheets, for example. We provide an electronic timesheet solution to business owners and employees worldwide. But that’s not our purpose.

Our purpose is to change the lives of the literally hundreds of thousands of employees that use TSheets on the frontlines on a daily basis. To make an impact on the world by helping small businesses succeed one accurate payday at a time. And to convince our customers and their employees to fall in love with our product.

Our tagline—“We <3 employees”—reflects that. But don’t make the mistake of assuming it was easy. It took months and months of spirited team conversations, deep-diving, and soul-searching for us to drill down to those three simple words. And even then, we weren’t convinced. In fact, the first time we saw “We <3 employees,” we hated it! But we let it marinate for a few weeks, and we eventually realized that it effectively captured the entire essence of TSheets in a way that nothing else could. In the end, it came down to who we believed we were to our very core: A company that loves employees.

So, how can you determine who you are at your core?

A few years ago, when TSheets was still fairly new (and still in process of figuring out what exactly made up our company’s DNA), I attended Dreamforce, a conference that attracts hundreds of thousands of people each year. Tony Robbins, a motivational speaker (who I had never seen live before), took the stage and ordered everyone in the room, all 100,000 or more of us (including Marc Benioff), to stand up and shout at our neighbor (a complete stranger). He wanted us to shout what makes our product or service different.

“This is silly,” I thought. “There’s no way I’m going to...” But before I could finish that thought, the room erupted with noise. Everyone around me was shouting at the top of their lungs. And I have to admit, I got a little swept up in the moment. I stood up, turned to my neighbor, and started screaming, “We are the defender of employees!” over and over. I later learned (after the noise had died down) that the poor guy didn’t speak a word of English, and he was probably scared out of his mind, but unbeknownst to him, he was instrumental to the development of TSheets’ tagline and the definition of our purpose.

I’m not suggesting that you scream at the next stranger you encounter, but answering this question is a great place to start: “What makes your product or service different than everyone and everything else the world?”

My answer, “We are the defender of employees,” wasn’t perfect. But it helped us discover who we were at our very core: A company that loves employees. And we were able to build our company, our culture, and yes, even our tagline, around that.

Would “We <3 timesheets” carry the same effect? You tell me.

Of course, developing a stellar tagline is only step one. If you really want to see success, you have to deliver your message to the masses. How? Keep an eye out for part two: Practicing What You Preach.

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