Developing a Tagline for Your Professional Services Firm
We are exposed to taglines every day. Some are timeless and connect so completely with the brand that the tagline is almost interchangeable with the brand name. Here are a few classics:
“Just Do It”
“Don’t Leave Home Without It”
“Good to the Last Drop”
“You’re in Good Hands”
Good taglines seem so obvious. And that is their magic. We don’t think about taglines in any sort of systematic way. Then one day we need to “come up with” a tagline for your professional services firm.
That’s when taglines seem impossible.
We might start with a brainstorming session to come up with a page full of options—only to realize that nothing quite lives up to expectations. We then pull out the stops and find some really creative friends. A cascade of ideas follows, but still no winner.
What to do? Here are a few practical suggestions to help you get to a solution.
A tagline is a short slogan used to reinforce a key aspect of a product or brand. It goes by many names (in the UK, for instance, they call it a strapline), and it can range from witty to mundane.
In the context of professional services firms, a tagline is usually part of a firm’s identity (as opposed to an ad slogan) — so it usually appears in conjunction with the firm’s name and logo.
Why You Need a Tagline
Part of the difficulty in selecting a tagline is that many professional services marketers don’t really understand what a tagline can—or cannot—do.
It is a bit of an oversimplification, but a tagline can take on three forms:
1. It can describe what you do
For example, “The program management specialists” or “The land lawyers.” This approach can be very helpful if your firm is not well known and your name does not hint at what you do.
2. It can convey a benefit of your service or your market position
For example, “Pay less. Get more.” or “IT. Without the anxiety.”
3. It can attempt to convey an emotion or aspiration.
For example, “Tomorrow, delivered today.” (This, of course, is Nike’s “Just do it” category.)
Choosing Your Professional Services Firm’s Tagline
Here’s a secret. Start by choosing what you want the tagline to do. (Sorry, you can only have one top priority!)
How do you know what is the most important goal? Remember that your tagline travels with your name and logo, so it does not need to do it all. Does your name convey what you do? Northwood Construction probably doesn’t need a tagline to convey what business they’re in. ABC Inc. might. Similarly, your logo may signal your industry or even convey an emotion.
When you have evaluated what your name and logo communicate, you are in a position to identify what marketing role your tagline can play in expressing your firm’s brand. Here’s the good news: a tagline is often the most flexible element of your brand identity, so it can make up for shortcomings in other areas.
Also, remember that it takes time and exposure for a tagline to gain traction. Repetition and association with evocative imagery give it power. Try to imagine the reaction in the conference room when the creatives first introduced “Just Do It.” No doubt, it took courage and an open mind to embrace it.
A tagline is a clear statement of what you do and who you do it for. It needs to be straightforward and descriptive, but it can’t be too long.
Try to balance the creative with the specific character of your firm (fun-loving, practical, innovative, etc.).
Just don’t over think it.
Oh, by the way, the brands that went with the taglines were (in order) Nike, American Express, Maxwell House, Allstate, and Apple.
- Our Rebranding Kit gives you the tools and knowledge you need to lead your firm through a rebranding.
- Get strategies, tips, and tools for developing your firm’s brand with Hinge’s Brand Building Guide for Professional Services Firms.
- Our free Differentiation Guide for Professional Services Firms guides you through how to build a powerful differentiation strategy.
How Hinge Can Help:
Develop rebranding strategies that better connect with existing clients and prospects. Hinge’s Branding Program can help your firm stand out from the competition and build a brand that drives sustained growth.
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