Woo-hoo! I get to write a tagline that’ll define a brand for years to come. Eek gads! I’m supposed to write a tagline that’ll define a brand for years to come.

Writing a tagline is an opportunity. And yes, writing a new tagline can also feel like you’ve been tasked with finding a brand’s holy grail.

But first things first…do taglines even work? Depends. Is it fresh and memorable? Or uninspired marketing-speak mumbo-jumbo? If it’s fresh and memorable, I’m of the ilk who believes that even in this always evolving marketing era, a traditional tagline still has a lot of power. It gives consumers a quick one floor ride-up elevator speech of what your brand is about. And, just as important, serves as a guidepost for your brand. Something for a brand to live up to. Whether you’re executing a :30 TV spot, a social post or virtual experience, a tagline helps keep brands on point. Get the wordsmithing just right and a challenger brand can leapfrog its way to becoming a “well look who’s arrived on the main stage” brand.

So…back to the writing of these magical brand-defining taglines. A great tagline can be many things:

  • Bold and Desirable – The ultimate driving machine.
  • Conversational – Yeah, we’ve got that.
  • Ridiculously Honest – What your mom would feed you if your mom were a man.
  • Profound and Motivating – Impossible is nothing.

But above all, a great tagline is true to the brand and sticky. It sounds different and more intriguing than most because it is.

Recently the Brunner team was tasked with writing a new tagline for a health care client. A well-plowed category if there ever was one. Didn’t take much Googling to discover that health care systems like to talk about how much they care, how they’re changing or transforming medicine or how exceptional, excellent or extraordinary they are. There’s a lot of we-we-we in health care …which to consumers becomes blah-blah-blah. People want to know what’s in it for me? What do I get out of this relationship? Which led us to the following tagline that’ll help differentiate our client from the competition:

Lehigh Valley Health Network. Your health deserves a partner.

A bit unexpected, right? Now I’m not claiming it’s the next “Just Do It” but it puts the consumer first. And it’s more interesting than, “We’re your health partner.”

There’s no easy button when it comes to taglines. Nailing the right tagline takes exploration, experimenting, rephrasing, rearranging, rethinking and reams of paper (if you prefer writing them out longhand like I do). When you finally do land on a handful of lines that move you, congratulations! Now all you have to do is go online to this vicious, evil site called the United States Patent and Trademark Search Database—where you’ll quickly discover that many of your precious word gems are already taken. Harrumph, time to write more taglines.

If I could offer up only one bit of tagline writing advice, it would be this: Use your phone’s voice memo. Seriously. Chances are you’ll have a breakthrough when you’re not thinking about writing taglines. While you’re driving home. At Happy Hour. About to doze off to sleep. You’ll want your phone handy so you can leave yourself a memo. I do it all the time. Sometimes I’ll listen later, and it’ll be total gibberish. But every once in a while, (a chorus of angels’ sound effect goes here) a not-too-shabby tagline serenades my eardrums.

Writing a great tagline that elevates a brand, one that people are proud to wear next to a logo on a T-shirt, can make a client really happy. Which is good for them. Your agency. And your career.