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Taglines aren't just for things

Updated: Jan 30

Descriptive copy is way hard.


It has to be three things. Three things that are simple on the surface, but take some soul searching to dig into. Are you ready? I'm not going to make you wait.


Aside from being as short as humanly possible, the three components of a good tag line are:

  1. It has to be true.

  2. It has to have some weight behind it. Some gravitas.

  3. And it has to set itself apart from the competition.


You have to get a bit philosophical to identify whether a tagline is working or not.


My stance is that taglines are not just for things you buy in a store (it's pretty easy to see how Just Do It, Snap! Crackle! Pop!, Taste the Rainbow and America Runs on Dunkin are truthful, have gravitas and differentiate), but for people too.


The style is going to be a little more information design, and a little less colorful, but the principles work just as well. My sister for example, is not just an incredible human, but an utter badass at work. We just wrote her this line:


A lifelong student of technical theater


Is it truthful? Absolutely yes. She has been learning the trade of technical theater since before I can remember (we're twins, so probably before she can remember too). And she's literally never stopped learning. She went to elementary school like everyone else, middle school, high school, the works. Then she did a bunch of college about theater. And not just ANY old theater. TECHNICAL theater. Which if you don't know is wildly complicated and detail-oriented and requires enormous levels of both hard and soft skills. And then she got a bunch of grown up jobs in real theaters and still didn't quit learning. That is a pretty gravitational thing to say, and certainly not everyone can say it. Almost no one, in fact. But she can. That's differentiated.


Now let's do one for a famous person. Same formula. But let's use Oprah. Did you know she has a LinkedIn? She totally does. And as of this writing, her line goes like this:


She has created an unparalleled connection with people around the world, making her one of the most respected and admired people today.


In arguably true. If I had fact checkers on staff they could corroborate any one of these claims. Does it have that weight and gravitas that I claim is essential. Damn right it does. One of the most respected and admired people of today?? YES. A bold statement. But utterly believable. And really, it's differentiated too. Because aside from Mother Theresa I can't think of a single other person who can claim unparalleled connection with people around the world. Good job, Oprah, or whoever helped write that line. It's really great.


So, if you're looking for a way to set yourself apart (maybe on LinkedIn! Like Oprah!), you're gonna want a tagline.

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