Words to Work By

Taglines like “Excellence Through Quality” or “Best Value in Town” are invisible. After all, words like quality, value and service are so overused they’ve become virtually meaningless. Yet some advertisers continue to use them. Why? How about something a little more original, like, “Make sure all this sh*t works the first time!”

If you think I’m joking, then you might want to pay a visit to GATE LLC, a gas technical consulting firm in Houston. The above is a bona fide company mission statement used internally to motivate and focus the team.

So how do you come up with something so darn shockingly good?

Christine Brack, a principal at ZweigWhite LLC, an Arkansas-based marketing consulting firm, says to kill the fluff. “The best taglines counter some perceived threat in the marketplace or establish a firm’s value in the marketplace,” she says. And it doesn’t have to be complicated or pretty, just memorable and meaningful. One of ZweigWhite’s clients in San Francisco, a structural engineering firm that evaluates the safety and salvageability of buildings following natural disasters, has a very simple but clear tagline: “We Help Save Lives.”

But how do you know if your tagline is actually effective? Brack says it’s relatively easy if you’re working in consumer services. “Is it something that sticks in people’s heads?” she asks. “Does it roll off the tongue?”

If you’re in professional services, tagline evaluation is a bit tougher. “Do you believe in it?” she asks. “Does it resonate with clients? If you read it, do you think, That’s a company I’d like to work for?”

Brack says, whatever you do, don’t get hung up on wordsmithing. “The best taglines tend to come from the gut,” she says. “When it’s getting close, get done with it.” Then put it everywhere—on the company letterhead, on business cards, on the website, on signs—“and make sure it’s consistent across the firm,” Brack adds. “Tie it in with what the firm wants to achieve.” Now those are some words to work by…


To see how powerful a company tagline can be, test yourself on your knowledge of popular company slogans with this fun SUCCESS.com Company Tagline Quiz.


Deborah Huso is a Virginia-based freelance writer specializing in business, lifestyle, and travel subjects. She is also a regular book reviewer for SUCCESS. Her publication credits include FamilyFun, Military Officer, Appraiser News Online, Women's Health, GORP.com, USA Today magazines, Alaska Airlines Magazine, WellBella, and The Progressive Farmer, where she serves as contributing editor. Huso also publishes a popular blog on love, motherhood, and work called "I Only Love You Because I Have To" at www.deborahhuso.com. Visit Huso online at www.drhuso.com, or follow her on Twitter @writewellmedia.

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