I was at one of my regular networking meetings, Grow Your Business, last week and the training section was on delivering our one minute better. One of the things that came out of this was finish with your strapline. Several of the businesses around the table didn’t have a strapline and resolved to write one, so this post is for them and anyone else who is writing their own strapline.

great straplinesA strapline is a ‘slogan’ used to identify a specific brand for example, Tesco’s ’Every little helps’. As a copywriter I find these projects exciting but equally I know they are actually quite hard work as I might come up with plenty of alternatives but I need to find the right combination of words that tells everyone what the company represents. So this post is my process for writing a strapline.

Do your research
Every copywriting project starts with research. I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again, never sit down to write until you’ve done your research. So I ask questions like:

  • What kind of company is it?
  • What is your product/service?
  • How do you see yourselves?
  • What are your company values?
  • What are the benefits of using your product/service and company?
  • What differentiates you from your competition?
  • Is there a single proposition you want to communicate?

This helps understand the nature and principles of the company and it forms the direction the next stages will take.

When you’re thinking about these questions, try and be specific about the benefits, values and proposition. Avoid anything woolly like ‘value’ or ‘quality’.

Brain dump
Now for the fun bit! Fill as much space as you can on a large sheet of paper or in a Word document with words, phrases, colloquialisms, text speak, slang and anything else you can think of around the single proposition you want to communicate.

Think about every single element of your product, service and process that relates to your proposition.

A good thesaurus is essential. If you don’t have a printed one you can buy a thesaurus app for your smartphone or go online to www.thesaurus.com. Other useful websites include:

www.goenglish.com – describes English idioms
www.rhymer.com – free rhyming dictionary

Normally this process will take me a whole morning (or afternoon) and quite often I’ll walk away from it and come back to it after a run, meal or even the next day after everything I’ve written down has a chance to simmer.

Get to work
Now you’re ready to start writing. Use your research and everything you’ve written down as part of your brain dump to start pulling together straplines.
There are no specific guidelines to the best length of a strapline but I prefer to keep them short – less than 10 words.

Write as many straplines as you can think of. You’ll probably find that the first few you write although they will be good don’t quite feel right, so keep going. I can spend a few hours doing this, and like the brain dump I will often give myself a break and come back to it with even more ideas.

Whilst you’re writing your straplines don’t forget to keep checking that they communicate your proposition and fit your values.

The final step
Once you’re satisfied with you list, walk away from it for at least a day whilst all the ideas you’ve come up with simmer inside you. Then you can start whittling down the list and editing them.

It may take time but eventually you’ll arrive at a strapline that is memorable, honest and relevant.