Client Development

Are You Limiting Yourself with a Tagline?

By Anusia Gillespie

Anusia Gillespie, JD, MBA | Principal Consultant | banava

The art of life is a constant readjustment to our surroundings.

~Kakuzo Okakaura

I have a very lawyerly answer for you: it depends.

People hear the word “branding” and tend to think that it is all about finding the perfect tagline. But, it’s really not. At least, not when it comes to marketing yourself apart from your firm. A tagline may not even be appropriate for the services you provide. Branding is more about creating the core values, mission, and personality that your marketing materials and services will embody. Branding is so important because it allows you to create messaging that will attract similarly oriented clients and inspire loyalty. A tagline is secondary.

Nevertheless, professionals have this tension where they feel they need a tagline, but also wonder: will it limit me?

Maybe.

Let’s first address the counterintuitive notion that narrowing your sales pitch is actually expanding, not limiting. The more specific you are, the more people will think of you for a particular service, and the more referrals you will receive for that service. Thanking your referrers systematizes consistent communications with them, and thus provides additional opportunities to inform your referrers about your other services. In this way, you provide digestible services at intervals so that people get the full picture and you receive referrals beyond your initial, narrow, sales pitch.

There’s a catch, however.  If you are too specific and speaking to the wrong audience, then your tagline won’t produce results. Furthermore, if you create a specific tagline that everyone happens to remember, and then you evolve into a different service area, you are stuck being known as your initial tagline. It takes a lot of effort to then change that perception.

Instead of locking yourself into a rigid tagline, consider focusing on a three to six-month slogan. (A tagline is used consistently, while a slogan may change regularly with new campaigns to advertise specific services.) Provide your overall practice, and then test out a slogan that highlights one service. Perhaps the highlighted area is the one that is most lucrative, that you most enjoy, or that is the most interesting to discuss in networking conversations. Don’t be afraid to remain adaptable and try on your many hats! The perfect tagline is likely to evolve over time in testing your slogans.