The tagline as conversation starter: Create the opportunity to give your elevator speech.

Part 6 of Build an Awesome Brand Month. See all other articles here: Build an Awesome Brand

By Jim Morris

No one is suggesting that creating a good tagline constitutes a marketing plan. Obviously, there need to be other tools in your marketing drawer. Which tools those are will depend largely on the nature of your business.

Regardless of the business you’re in, however, a tagline is not a bad place to start when building a catalogue of brand communications. Once you’ve acquired a tagline that works well for you, one of the next tools many businesses shift their focus to is the infamous “elevator speech.”


This is that brief, concise, but longer-than-a-tagline explanation of just what your business is about. It’s the little speech you want to have at the ready in any environment where networking is possible, and certainly if you’re actively prospecting. Could be a party, a conference or trade show, or just on the street.

The tagline, printed on your business card or brochure, for instance, can trigger the opportunity to start a conversation with your the elevator speech. From that point on, extending the conversation will depend on how interesting your elevator speech is.

Whether the tagline succeeds in starting a conversation, of course, depends on just how engaging and/or intriguing it is. If your tagline is “Discover The Power Of Quality Solutions.”, your prospect is likely to nod off half way through reading it.

But if your line is less expected, somewhat original or refreshing, funny, curious or provocative, it won’t just create an opportunity to get to your elevator speech, it may evoke a reaction that opens the door to other stories about your brand, i.e., how you got to that tagline, how your company began, other people’s reaction to the tagline, how the tagline is indicative of your company’s culture or mission, etc.

Archie McPhee is a novelty company whose tagline declares that it is Slightly Less Disappointing Than Other Companies. Granted that, being a novelty company, they have more license to carry a funny tagline, the line speaks volumes about what kind of company they are and, presumably, what it’s like to deal with them. The forthrightness of the line can be very appealing, and predispose a potential customer to like the company even before experiencing a transaction. And the ripple effects can extend beyond that. That good initial feeling might color the customer’s perception of their transaction, and even start the transaction off on a more positive note.

Not every company can have a tagline that will have this kind of impact. But one thing is certain. Every company with a flat, blah, straightforward, clichéd, ordinary tagline denies themselves a key, early opportunity to set their brand’s tone, allude to their differessence, start a conversation. Can you afford to ignore this opportunity?

Jim Morris is a tagline specialist. You can find him on the web at

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