Taglines are an amazing way to introduce your brand to the public and potential customers and clients. A good tagline is deceptively simple, and is typically just one or two short sentences long. However, like other “deceptively simple” elements of your brand, making the right choices may be more difficult than you initially realize. In our previous blog post, we discussed many of the right things to do when developing a tagline, including determining what makes your business unique, being creative and simply having fun! Before you potentially go overboard and overcomplicate your tagline, there are a few rules and guidelines to remember.

Be Original and Avoid Imitation

They say imitation is the sincerest form of flattery, but when it comes to taglines, imitation can lead to confusion and derision from the public and potentially expensive and damaging civil penalties. Like other forms of intellectual property, you can’t use the taglines of other companies and organizations, or one that is too confusingly similar. Even if your tagline is unique enough to be legally acceptable, the public may be confused as to why your tagline is so similar to another, which dilutes or even negates the power of your branding to uniquely identify your business. Always complete a thorough Google search to ensure that someone else isn’t using the tagline you’ve chosen.

Be Unique and Avoid Clichés

Original taglines can still be ineffective if clichés are utilized. A clichéd word or term is one that is overused to the point that the word has lost most or all of its meaning. An example of a clichéd term is “tomorrow,” as in: “Leading [industry] Into Tomorrow!” The business in question obviously wants to stress their innovation and marketing leadership, but the tagline is too vague to really convey to a potential client, customer or investor what that business actually does or wants to accomplish. However, there are rare times when even clichés can be used effectively, if they describe a specific product or service offered by a business – leading an industry “into tomorrow” is meaningless cliché, but saying something like “delivered to your doorstep tomorrow” can be okay if your business does overnight shipping, although you could always come up with a better, more unique tagline. Do not get comfortable with using clichés, be very selective of the words you use, and remember that what may seem whimsical and fun to you could be seen as vague and hollow to someone else.

Be Concise and Avoid Over-Complication

If you are planning on brainstorming in an effort to create a powerful and memorable tagline, you may think you’ll have trouble coming up with ideas. Yet for many business owners and managers, the problem isn’t a lack of ideas, it’s too many ideas! An overabundance of ideas can be a good problem to have if you are able to choose the best and disregard the rest, but too many businesses try to cram too many ideas into a single brand element, and when it comes to taglines, over-complication can be disastrous. Remember, a potential customer will likely only spend a few seconds to a minute studying your branding, and an overcomplicated tagline or one that is too dense or long will be confusing at best and unintelligible at worst.

Seek Out Honest Feedback

The best way to ensure that your tagline is clear, concise and immediately accessible is to have as many different people as possible review your tagline and provide honest feedback. What may at first appear to be a creative and original tagline may ultimately prove to be ineffective or unoriginal upon further review. When soliciting feedback, push for more specific answers than “I don’t like it,” or “It doesn’t make sense,” as such feedback doesn’t provide an avenue for determining what specifically is unlikable or nonsensical about your tagline.