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Bring a good tagline to life – six rules and seven sins

slogan2Coming up with a great tagline is a struggle.  Typically, people get it wrong by focusing on what the product or service is rather than the ultimate benefit it provides. Why does it matter?

This article was originally published on AgentGenius.com on December 09, 2009.

Your tag line should be a memorable phrase that sums up the tone and premise of your brand or service, reinforcing the marketplace’s memory of you.  Some taglines are successful enough to warrant inclusion in popular culture.

It’s not about you.

If your tagline talks about you, you have it wrong.  Think bigger.  Do you change someone’s life by being the area’s #1 agent, having 21 years in the business or earning your spot in President’s Club?

How do those speak to the client’s ultimate payoff?  Don’t tell people how great you are.  Tell them what’s in it for them by engaging you.

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Here are a few guidelines to creating a tag line.  How does yours measure up?

1. No Platitudes

If someone reads your tagline and thinks “Well, I hope so” you’ve failed.  Therefore “Selling your home for top dollar” is not a good choice.

2.  No Clichés

Just because a word has recognized meaning doesn’t mean it’s meaningful.   Make sure it says what people need to know about you.

3. Be Clear, Not Clever

Pick your focus and stick to it.

4.  So ….?

What are the benefits to your client?  Benefits are the key to better copy in the tag line.  While developing your tag line ask yourself “so what?” What is your client’s ultimate payoff?

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5.  Jazz it up

Make it reflect your image and personality.  Typically this is done by injecting an adjective.

6.  Ignore Word Count Rules

We have a tendency to think a tagline can’t be more than 5 words.  Not necessarily.  When building it, don’t restrict yourself.  If it’s too long, you can probably pare it down.

How to build your tag line

First

You must have a clearly defined (read: documented) Mission, Promise and Brand.  Don’t move on to next steps until this is done.  Your tagline will identify you/your business by capturing the essence of these three elements.

Second

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Decide what you have to offer.  Then, start writing short sentences that convey the purpose of your business.   This is not easy as you will try to hit it out of the park immediately.  That won’t happen, so don’t sweat it.  Tips: As you begin to write, don’t be cool.  Don’t be clever.  Be clear.

Third

Read them one by one and ask yourself “So?” …  “And?”  This is how you get to the ultimate payoff for the client.  Have you captured how will it change their life?  You may argue here and think “every client is looking for something different.”  Are they?  Really?

Think about today, this market.  What are clients ultimately looking for?

Tip: Consider the 7 Deadly Sins

Gluttony.  Wrath.  Greed.  Sloth.  Envy.  Pride.  Lust.    If you think about it, most campaigns (and business models) are centered on one of the 7 deadly sins.   If you’re an agent or broker, I’d lean toward Pride, Greed and perhaps Envy.

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Finally

Jazz it up.  Pick an adjective that represents your business image, take the summary of your benefits and tack that to your mission. What do you get?

What’s your tag line?

Photo p.s. Sorry for the bad word in the photo, I just couldn’t resist sharing that very clear, concise tag line…

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Written By

Brandie is an unapologetically candid marketing professional who was recently mentioned on BusinessWeek as a Top Young Female Entrepreneur. She recently co-founded consulting firm MarketingTBD. She's held senior level positions with GE and Fidelity, as well as with entrepreneurial start-ups. Raised by a real estate Broker, Brandie is passionate about real estate and is an avid investor. Follow her on Twitter.

64 Comments

64 Comments

  1. Mack Perry

    December 10, 2009 at 7:40 am

    “When You’re With Mack, Get Ready To Pack”

    It may not be the slickest but it works.

  2. Ken Brand

    December 10, 2009 at 8:22 am

    Boom! This is powerfully simple and perfectly explained. Thanks. I’ll be sharing this every agent on the team.

  3. Carrie Isaac

    December 10, 2009 at 11:07 am

    Great list.

    Our slogan is “Real estate has changed. Most agents haven’t even changed their haircut.” We debated whether or not people would “get it” – it probably violates your clear, not clever rule. But, we decided our target audience would get it, and that’s been true so far.

  4. Brandie Young

    December 10, 2009 at 11:27 am

    Mack – Cute – thanks for sharing!

  5. Gary Little

    December 10, 2009 at 5:24 pm

    “Get a Lot with Little” works for me.

  6. Margaret Rome

    December 10, 2009 at 8:04 pm

    Have had fun helping others come up with their tag lines.

    “Sell Your Home With Margaret Rome”

  7. Susan Meyers

    December 10, 2009 at 8:30 pm

    Our tag line is
    ….BETTER!

  8. Sher Wenowitz

    December 10, 2009 at 10:01 pm

    I have been working on trying to settle on what clicks with the public. I’m now working with a professional to help me zero in on my marketing/branding. I keep working with my first name, Sher, and can’t seem to get exactly what I want–or rather what will work !!!

    “Because you care, use Sher” or “Staged By Sher = Sold By Sher ” (and not enough people know or appreciate how much staging does help!)
    I don’t know what to use…
    So I appreciate your article, I’m going to print it and create anew! If you have any suggestions, that’d be great! Thanks!
    PS Hey, at least I know nothing really works with my last name! LOL

    • Mary Ingraham

      December 11, 2009 at 4:00 pm

      How about
      “Sure to Win with Sher Wenowitz!”
      You have a great name to work with!

      • Sher Wenowitz

        December 11, 2009 at 10:28 pm

        You are so kind to give me ideas, thank you!

  9. m

    December 10, 2009 at 10:54 pm

    “Make Your Next Move With Marilyn!” This is my tag line. People remember it and actually get a chuckle out of it as well. It works.

  10. Brandie Young

    December 11, 2009 at 2:13 am

    Ken – I got a boom?? Wow I’m flattered beyond belief! Let me know how it works for you.

  11. Brandie Young

    December 11, 2009 at 2:13 am

    Carrie – Thanks for the comment. If you test the tag line and people tell you it means to them what you want them to think of you, then you’ve succeeded.

  12. Brandie Young

    December 11, 2009 at 2:14 am

    Gary – Clever play on your name!

  13. Brandie Young

    December 11, 2009 at 2:14 am

    Margaret – It is fun, isn’t it. Lucky for you to have a name that rhymes with home. I assume you’re a listing agent and prefer not to work with buyers?

  14. Brandie Young

    December 11, 2009 at 2:15 am

    Susan ….. Impact!

  15. Brandie Young

    December 11, 2009 at 2:15 am

    Sher – Good for you for bringing in help. I’m happy to talk you through a couple thoughts. Contact me at brandie[at]marketingtbd.com

    • Sher Wenowitz

      December 11, 2009 at 11:06 pm

      OMG ! Your web site is fantastic! what a hoot! I had fun playing with the hatching eggs!

      Your article has helped to inspire me to push myself on a tag line.

      Buyers and Sellers, Reach for the Stars. Work with Sher – Sonny

      -the last part, is thanks to Mack Perry!

      • Brandie Young

        December 14, 2009 at 8:48 pm

        Sher, thanks so much. I’m so glad you have some inspiration and ideas!

  16. Brandie Young

    December 11, 2009 at 2:16 am

    Marilyn – If it resonates, that’s awesome.

  17. Mack Perry

    December 11, 2009 at 6:12 am

    @Sher~ As Iwas reading through these this morning an interesting thought hit me for you…”Work With Sher…Sonny”

  18. Madeleine J Andrews, M.D.

    December 11, 2009 at 6:15 am

    Since I’m a retired physician, I like to use:
    “I’m the Doctor Who Loves House Calls!”

  19. Donna Smith

    December 11, 2009 at 6:22 am

    I network alot and speak to lots of other professionals. I can’t think of a good tag,line

  20. walidmrealtor

    December 11, 2009 at 7:29 am

    Uh oh…I don’t know if I’ve broken any of the rules, or committed any sins, but I certainly abused a few brain cells coming up with my eventual tagline. Great post, I’ll try this methodology should I decide to change my current tagline.

  21. Kathy Sellers

    December 11, 2009 at 7:50 am

    Great tips! I race cars as a hobby and after 8 years in biz finally came up with “The Racing Realtor, Winning Results from Start to Finish” .

    • Mary Ingraham

      December 11, 2009 at 4:08 pm

      Kathy, I love your tag line!!! I would go with you!

  22. Steve McGarrigle

    December 11, 2009 at 10:11 am

    ImASoldMan has workked great for me. With it plastered across by front (backwards) and rear windows of my car, I catch people pointing and starting to sing “I’m a soul man” when stopped at a light! Then with license plates that say “Soldman”, it ties it all together.

  23. Krishna Perkins

    December 11, 2009 at 10:48 am

    Great article. Sometimes we try and get to complicated and end up turning people off. My favorite strategy is ‘KISS’ Keep it simple stupid!

  24. ines

    December 11, 2009 at 11:31 am

    there’s an air conditioning company posting signs all over Miami that read “YOUR WIFE IS HOT” and then in small letters at the bottom…..time to fix your a/c 😀

    As much as I enjoy marketing, I’ve never liked real estate tag lines. They are always cliche or cheesy or just blah. I decided to drop the tag line a few years ago – interested to hear what others have to say,

    • Brandie Young

      December 14, 2009 at 8:51 pm

      Ines, that’s a crack up. A bit of shock/awe sort of marketing.

      I hear you, real estate tag lines can tend toward the stale and to your point, sometimes cheesy … I really think it’s because they focus on branding the realtor, rather than the value to the market.

      I’m hoping my post can help a few folks rethink their approach….

  25. Sher Wenowitz

    December 11, 2009 at 3:59 pm

    Thanks! so much to those of you who had your suggestions for me!
    I really appreciate the: Work with Sher – Sonny _Maybe I can use it !
    it’s funny because I’ve been trying to figure out how to play the Sonny/Sher thing.
    I do have a signature on my iPhone; Make all your days sunny, Sher

    Best wishes to you all, Sher
    Canfield, OH

    • Dan Connolly

      December 12, 2009 at 2:17 am

      In Real Estate Sales
      Sher makes money
      like Cher made Sonny

      • Betty Dyer

        December 13, 2009 at 5:53 am

        What about Sher makes YOU money
        Like Cher made Sonny

    • Alison Peterson

      February 5, 2011 at 4:59 pm

      Sher….you have a great tag line already…on your phone signature! I LOVE IT!

  26. Sher Wenowitz

    December 11, 2009 at 4:03 pm

    Aw, I’m jealous at the simple genius of: I’m a “SoldMan”

  27. Amy Cesario

    December 11, 2009 at 10:57 pm

    I have been trying to decide to keep, drop or come up with a new line…

    Amy B. Cesario
    Helping you Analyze your situation, Build a plan and Carry it out.

    The A B C are bold in in a color …

    Thoughts? I haven’t integrated it into all my marketing yet…

    • Sher Wenowitz

      December 11, 2009 at 11:10 pm

      and then say, it’s as simple as ABC when you work with me!

  28. Judy Glenn

    December 11, 2009 at 11:13 pm

    33 years (since I was 21) in real estate and I still have no tag line!

  29. Judy Glenn

    December 11, 2009 at 11:18 pm

    33 years in real estate (since I was 21) and I still have no tag line! I love them, but have never been “inspired” by any of my own ideas for one. Your article has me thinking about it again. Maybe this year….

    • Brandie Young

      December 14, 2009 at 10:51 pm

      Judy – I’m so glad to hear that. Thanks. It can be a fun exercise! Let me know what you come up with.

  30. Mike Land

    December 12, 2009 at 2:57 pm

    I have been using: LIST WITH LAND – BUYERS “LANDED”

    • Brandie Young

      December 14, 2009 at 10:55 pm

      Mike – clever use of your name. Question: Do sellers know they are lising their home or is that agent jargon? If it is jargon, you may want to switch it up …Landing Buyers Quickly or something.

  31. Bonnie and Jayne Vaughan

    December 14, 2009 at 10:27 am

    Our branding is going to be:

    Driven
    And
    Dedicated

    • Brandie Young

      December 14, 2009 at 10:57 pm

      Bonnie and Jayne ….. Interesting. I wonder if I saw your name(s) along with that tag line, I’d know what you do, or what’s in it for me? Just my .02

  32. Jackie Stewart

    December 14, 2009 at 11:01 am

    My catch phrase isn’t as clever as all of yours.
    “For Genuine, Professional, Straightforward Service…..
    There’s Only ONE Right Choice!”

    But I think it says what I want people to know!

    Your suggestions will be appreciated and considered!

    • Sher Wenowitz

      December 14, 2009 at 12:47 pm

      Hi
      We actually have a new locally owned real estate company in our area called right choice realty.
      Your idea is good. I don’t think I’ll give my local competition your great slogan, however 😉

      I like your slogan/tag line, a lot, It’s how I feel about how I like to treat my clients!
      Sher

  33. Ron Smiley

    December 14, 2009 at 11:17 am

    How about these?

    Buy with Smiley and always smile.

    Smiley Sells Sanibel and Sellers Smile.

    Corny? I can’t think of a tag that doesn’t sound corny to me.

    • Sher Wenowitz

      December 14, 2009 at 12:43 pm

      Hi Ron, I hope you also list:

      Home to sell? It’s gone with Ron !

      or

      make all your days Smiley !

      taken from my signature: make all your days sunny, Sher

      It’s tough doing your own….

      • Annie Coughlin

        April 17, 2010 at 5:03 pm

        Any thoughts for Dee Dee Riley Real Estate Agent?? I am trying to come up with something that ryhms with Dee Dee???

        Thanks

  34. Bonnie and Jayne

    December 14, 2009 at 11:57 pm

    Brandi

    Our names will be with our branding. The Driven and Dedicated is used depending on the focus of the ad and audiance.

    All of those other phrases, in our opinion, are old and worn. Cute does not sell real estate. IOHO. We want to be different from all the rest that use the cutesy slogans.

    Jayne

    • Brandie Young

      December 15, 2009 at 1:24 am

      Hi Jayne,
      Though as a rule I try not to assume comments have tone, I can’t help but think my question may have offended you, which was not my intent. If so, I apologize. I was just offering an outside/in perspective from a neutral party with a couple decades as a marketer. (eeek, i’m old)

      One great aspect of being an independant agent/your own boss is the freedom to express yourself with whatever tagline you wish. Hopefully as a business person one tests it to ensure it resonates as planned. I’m sure the suggestions/examples listed here work for the agents that were nice enough to share them and then brainstorm with one another. That said, Driven and Dedicated is certainly different from “cutesy”.

      As I pointed out in the post (rule #3) be clear, not cute – so I’m with you there.

  35. Jayne

    December 15, 2009 at 8:37 am

    Brandi

    I was not offended. I was just trying to be clear and consise in my response. I am not one to ramble on a particular subject. Get in and get out so to speak. Guess that comes from working for lawyers for so many years. Cut to the chase.

    My sister and I are taking our marketing from a different viewpoint. One also has to look at the area in which they live as I am sure you would agree.

    We just are not the type of businesswoman that would want to use phrases such as that. At one point in developing who we were, we were going to use the Sister Act. There were great adds that could be done. Photos of us in Nuns habits, one of us in heels and the other sneakers. Ads where we look up to our broker with the saying, we look up to a higher power. But, were we are located, I would be excommunicated. So it evolved and everyone here knows us as THE SISTERS. Then researching marketing companies and their ideas brought us to Driven and Dedicated. We have materials, a brochure, mailing cards, stationery and the like all with the same theme and color scheme.

    Dialog is wonderful for learning and sharing.

    Jayne

  36. kurt carlstedt

    December 20, 2009 at 4:00 pm

    I have to say that your use of words made a point. Back in the 70s, a friend of mine asked me to come up with a tag line for his septic business in N. California. I came up with “Your xxxx is our bread and butter”. He thought that a bit crass, so I changed it to ” Your effluence is our affluence”. All things somehow work out…

    • Brandie Young

      December 21, 2009 at 8:48 pm

      Thanks for chiming in, Kurt

      Better be careful showing that creativity! Someone might tap you on the shoulder to help them with their tag line!

  37. Karen Rodriguez

    January 7, 2010 at 5:58 pm

    My tag line for the past 8 years has been “Don’t make a MOVE without me!” and the word ‘MOVE’ has a roof on it in my print media. People see me in the store and say it to me! I thought it was corny, but hey, it caught on!

  38. Sharon

    January 13, 2010 at 10:16 am

    I am a new real estate agent looking for a good tag line
    Last name FISH
    A friend thought
    Make it ” O fish AL ”
    was a good start

    Thanks for any help

  39. Greg Barnhouse

    February 5, 2011 at 3:25 pm

    Great post, Brandie! Diana and I are The Barnhouse Group. We’ve used “Real Estate with Real Integrity” on our cards in the past, but after seeing it elsewhere, and thinking it a bit corny, have stopped using it. We’ve tried to come up with something related to our last name, but haven’t come up with something that fits these rules, although I am in total agreement. Our logo has a roof over BARNHOUSE with GROUP underneath.

    Any ideas?

  40. Cheryl Johnson

    February 5, 2011 at 9:17 pm

    I think we should sometimes stand back and ask ourselves when we are the consumer, what influences our decisions…. For example if you are in the market for a new car, what influences you to go to one auto dealer over another.

    If your decision is based on a clever tagline or a catchy jingle, Okayfine. But if other factors are part of your decision, what are those factors … and how could you use that knowledge in creating your own marketing…. Just sayin’.

  41. MH for Movoto

    February 7, 2011 at 2:36 pm

    Love the article! i’d caution against “inserting an adjective”, though. action verbs do it better.

  42. Violet Clarke

    March 13, 2012 at 12:04 am

    Any suggestions for a tagline with my name. I’m a realtor and an interior designer and homes and helping people are my passion. I just can’t seem to come up with anything.

  43. Tiffany Sutherland

    March 20, 2012 at 3:08 pm

    Hi, I am a Realtor and I’m struggling to find a tagline or a slogan for myself. My first name is Tiffany. Any suggestions?

    “Before you buy or sell, call Tiffany?”

    too corny?

  44. Karen Schwarz

    April 8, 2016 at 8:53 pm

    I always wanted to use: “May the SCHWARZ be with you”

  45. Amy

    August 29, 2016 at 4:59 pm

    So I personally don’t want anything corny but I do think that buyers and sellers both value customer service so I wanted my slogan to tie into that. Please help end my personal debate. I’m leaning toward the following: “I’m here for YOU”, “I’m here to serve YOU”, “For service beyond the sale” or something to the affect of…. when you want to be treated like #1. Opinions & suggestions are appreciated 🙂

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