Neville wrote a great blog post today on creating a slogan.  You should go read it here.  I wanted to expand on this a little and provide an example.

No one is better at tag-lines than politicians

A few years ago I was watching a documentary called Our brand is crisis.  This documentary provides a behind the scenes look at the very best political strategists and how they frame their message to connect with voters.

One of the things they talk about is the slogan or central message.  This is the same team that came up with the “Hope and Change” slogan that was so central to the Obama campaign.

The idea is that we take a whole bunch of complicated issues, with complicated solutions, and we condense all that into a nice simple slogan or tagline.  The purpose of that tag-line is to provide a single idea or feeling that people can focus on, so that when they think of our company, they aren’t thinking about all those complications, random facts, or potentially negative qualities.  Instead, they think of that one idea, and if we do our homework, that idea is the one thing that motivates people to accept our offer.

Then, we take that idea and we repeat it over and over again.

The idea is not to sound clever.  Clever doesn’t sell.  Our objective is focus.

So if you think about “hope and change,” you’re not thinking about:

  • Is this politician trustworthy?
  • Do they have a track record of delivering on their promises?
  • Are their views the same as mine?

Instead this idea focuses us on our problems, making us feel the pain of those problems.  Because it’s simple and vague, any problem you have fits within this frame.  This drives us to seek a solution to the discomfort we experience and erases all those other issues that might distract us.

A tag-line example

My client’s website was a disorganized mess.  With 500 or so blog posts on a variety of subjects there was little chance you would happen to find the one post that had the solution to your problem.

So first we started with the tag line, which was a bunch of random nonsense about performance enhancement.

We needed something to take those 500 blog posts and condense them into a few words.  This became “Eat.  Train.  Recover.”

Then we took that framework and organized the rest of the site around it.  So navigation was split into those three broad categories with subcategories below that along with the usual products page.  Then we created a page for eat, train, and recover with links to all the best content in each of those areas along with free downloads.

Toss in a rotating banner and when someone hit the home page, they could instantly recognize what the site was about and they could instantly find the solutions to their problems.

Given that most of your traffic is going to be people who are non-experts, this framework is designed to get them up to speed as quick as possible.  We also got people deep into the site reading posts written over a long period of time, rather than just the last 10 posts on the front page.

As a result no one is asking:

  • Does this guy actually train anyone?
  • Does he know what he’s talking about?
  • But what about this special circumstance or exception?
  • Is this going to work?

Instead it focuses readers on the three things they have control over.  What to eat, how to train, and how to recover from that training.  Once we have you reading deep into the site, the content will win you over.  We just need to capture you for long enough to demonstrate value.

It’s not about the tag-line

One of the things that’s important to note here is that framing your tag line is more important for you than it is for your readers.

Going through the process of focusing your message, deciding who you are targeting, identifying their problem, and developing your offer should change how you approach your business.  This is more important than the handful of words under your logo.

In-fact, in my fitness example here, we removed the usual wordpress tagline under the logo and replaced it with an “as featured in” line with logos from magazines my client had written in.  Because the tag line was weaved into the navigation and the organization of the site, there was no need for it.  “As featured in” out performed it on bounce rate.

Framing the problem

Neville provides a good example in the comments.  Someone asks for a real estate example.

Most real estate agents are looking for some generic version of “I sell houses.”  Neville automatically focuses his slogan on investors looking for a real estate agent.  “The Investors Choice.”  This subtle change is where the magic lies.  He has conveyed why you should pick him over another agent in only three words.  He specializes in investors.

To get this type of precision, we must think through these types of questions:

  • Who is my client?
  • What is the problem is my client facing?
  • How do I solve that problem?
  • What is unique about my offer?

Are you a real estate agent for first time home buyers, investors, farmers?  Do you specialize in commercial real estate, apartments, single family homes, rehabs, etc.

Commercial real estate has a different set of problems than first time home buyers.  How do you position yourself as someone uniquely suited to address that exact problem?

Once you have a clear picture of your clients, you can articulate their needs, and you have framed your offer and tag-line, you can then weave it into everything you do.

If you’ve targeted a specific customer, you can use your navigation to address their exact questions, problems, etc.

You’re going to write about their problems, the solutions to those problems, and so on, rather than the generic “I will sell your house” or “bla bla bla is on sale this week.”

The tagline becomes more than text, it is a lens through which you focus your efforts.


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