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Five Ways to Determine Whether Your Tagline is Working for You

Five Ways to Determine Whether Your Tagline is Working for You

Tuesday, May 17, 2016

Your name and your tagline are two of the most effective ways to communicate what your organization does and why. Find yourself wondering whether your tagline is a good one? If so, answer the following questions. 


1. Does your tagline compliment your name?

If your name is straightforward and descriptive like Foster and Adoptive Care Coalition, you may need a tagline that invokes emotion such as For every child, a place to call home. If your name is emotional like Voices for Children, a descriptive tagline such as Speaking up for kids in foster care can provide the clarity that explains what it is you do. Emotional names with emotional taglines can be confusing and descriptive names with descriptive taglines tend to be boring, so look for the compliment. 


2. Is your tagline audience-directed?

Taglines should answer the question, “Why should I care?” It is not about what WE as an organization do, it is how we are changing YOUR life. Audience-directed taglines, either with an implied or an overt YOU can be very powerful. We sometimes avoid these because we want our tagline to appeal to many audiences, so we just talk about ourselves and it feels safe. But taglines need to tell people who you are helping and why. This allows audiences to understand why they should care. Speaking directly to the benefits of your organization is very powerful. Caring Solutions’ tagline, Discover your abilities, speaks to its client base of families of people with disabilities, while also appealing to donors who want to know that Caring Solution’s clients are living fulfilling lives.


3. Is your tagline more audience-directed than your mission statement.

Your mission statement, while a valuable tool, is not a tagline. A mission statement guides an organization internally. It is not usually audience-directed. While your tagline needs to be supported by the mission statement, making your mission statement pull double duty as a tagline is asking too much of it. Big Brothers Big Sisters of Eastern Missouri has a great mission statement, To build trusting and enduring relationships that encourage and support young people. That idea was transformed into the tagline, Be There. For Good, that suggests enduring relationships in a more marketable way.


4. Does your tagline explain what makes you different?

Most nonprofits work to change lives or empower communities. Taglines that use these words seem to work because they are true and sound powerful. But if your tagline can work for many other nonprofits, perhaps you need one that is more specific to your organization. Let’s assume everyone is trying to change one life, one child or one family at a time, and then go from there. Deaconess Foundation’s former tagline, Healthy and hope-filled futures, didn’t distinguish them from other foundations or organizations. A change to, Health and hope for all St. Louis children, tells us who they are helping and why.


5. Is your tagline memorable?

Memorable taglines are short, action-oriented, and capture the feeling or essence of an organization. If you or others in your organization have a hard time remembering your tagline, the likelihood of others remembering it is slim. Avoid jargon and acronyms. The Wilson School tagline originally had three words and even the most ardent school supporters had a hard time recalling those words. The new tagline, Each day brings a world of opportunity, is easy to remember and highlights what makes their school different from other schools.

If you're thinking, “Our tagline is a real clunker,” don’t worry, we can help! Contact Karen so we can discuss how to make your tagline as powerful and memorable as the work you do.