A tagline should do its job efficiently. After that a tagline loses power, gets diluted. When it's brief, there's greater impact, presuming the words are wisely chosen and land like "That's it!" for the listener or reader. While there are no hard and fast rules about tagline length - sometimes a longer tag may work - there is something about a shorter tag that brings crispness and clarity to the message. Keep in mind you don't need a tagline to be a complete sentence so you can sometimes edit out certain words to convey the same meaning.
But the funny shouldn't be too "punny." If it makes people groan because it's so cheesy, you can probably do better. Clever is good. Clever makes people think a little while they're appreciating the humor. Of course if you have a business that's a little more serious, the last thing you want is a goofy tagline. You know like "Break a leg!" for a personal injury lawyer or something. Certain industries in general, such as financial and legal services, should not use humor in the business name, tagline or web content.
A good tagline helps the business name and logo along. Some business names are vague or unclear to the uninitiated so a tagline can act almost like a subhead, giving the business name greater meaning and helping the reader understand more precisely what the company does. Take my own company name "Eclectic Content" for example. You might know what eclectic means and what content means but you might not get it immediately that we provide marketing and business communications services. Our tagline - written long ago by the best intern ever - "Where words speak louder" says a lot more and alludes pretty clearly to the fact that writing is involved. So make your tagline do some heavy lifting for your business name.
Your tagline can also rescue your business from being boring. Maybe your business name is a bit bland or you're in an industry that's ho-hum (I dunno, selling air filters or something). You can liven up your brand with a compelling and unforgettable tagline. In fact you owe it to yourself to not be bored with your own business. Make your tagline make you happy!
A good tagline is catchy. Sometimes people only have to see it or hear it once for it to catch on and they've memorized it. You know it's caught on when you say your business name and people fill in the blanks with your tagline. Try it at a networking meeting that you regularly attend. When you tell people your business name add the tagline so people hear it repeatedly and make the association. They might not need your services but they'll remember you.
For more on taglines and tools of the writing trade, follow @killertaglines on Twitter.
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Kennerly Clay loves language in any form. She's been a writer through years of technological change and appreciates the ways that intention and meaning can now be expressed through so many forms of media, more efficiently than ever.