Tag Archives: one central truth

Now advertising agencies are good at imagination and creation, at mocking-up and perfecting collateral associated with a brand. But, and at the risk of being hung out to dry, those skills don’t cross-credit for your first, most important story – (or tagline). These two to 10 words are a real challenge to uncover no matter how big or small a company.

And it’s precisely because a tagline has to do such a lot of heavy lifting from a communications point of view, that fact’s way way better than fantasy, that a writer’s far more likely to nail it than a ‘creative’.

Let me explain why the process of unearthing a tagline isn’t about creativity or imagination.

Creativity’s a birdseye view of the landscape. It’s an idealised interpretation which often has no relevance at ground level. This is why an ad agency-created tagline commonly fails to resonate…because it unsuccessfully represents the business’s value proposition.

It’s why an organisation’s tagline has to be unearthed in the business trenches, WITH its owners and managers.

Rather than floating out a glamorised but unrealistic set of advertising and brand words, tagline wrangling requires a storyteller, a writer with the ability to listen, intently, to take the lead in the task.

Tagline wrangling also requires a sound understanding of business. Therefore, before any crafting of words, everyone needs to understand what makes the product or service offering faster, cheaper and better for a customer (i.e. smarter).

Once you fathom what makes the company smarter (in the eyes of customers) then other questioning spotlights can be applied. By deeply asking the different, desirable and deliverable elements around a company’s product or service, you distill the One Central Truth of their message.

This One Central Truth may form a tagline in its own right, or could need two to 10 fresh words reflecting the value proposition being expressed.

Crafting these words is likely to be a tangled, fun and challenging process, but what you end up with is a draft tagline. It will very likely be the stage where a thesaurus comes in really handy!

Like any piece of art though, the draft may need refinement and modification. Sometimes a word won’t feel right, and a subtle change makes a tagline much more fit for purpose.

At this stage the draft tagline can be tested outside the firm – and just as importantly inside it.

The tagline and its informal variations needs to be a comfortable expression which rings true across many locales; including a BBQ for example when someone asks “what do you do?”

As your first, most important story – the one popping up in Google search’s brief two line explanation of your company, a tagline is much much more than fanciful words.

A tagline forms the tip of your communications arrow across all formats.

A tagline reinforces and is reinforced by all company messages.

As a story, it is a promise grounded in truth, not a statement floating in the ether.

As a story, your shortest story, along with business managers, your tagline is best discovered and uncovered by a writer.

The problem with many messages, from taglines to web home pages, is they try to say too much.

Instead of presenting one clear argument, a proof, of what’s on offer, you get mixed messages.

For our relatively straight-forward minds, which are always attempting to sift and categorise information, this is really confusing.

Indeed, such is our ability to sort useful from non-useful, it is often about this point that we turn off – go to the next webpage, ignore, not bother.

Any piece of written persuasive message (or spoken for that matter), no matter how long, must have one central truth at its core.

Our brains process information and make a judgement pretty quickly.

By definition, any persuasive message has to get its point across even more quickly.

You only get one shot, preferably loaded with one central truth.

However, getting to your one central truth, the nub of your argument, is increasingly harder to capture and deliver the higher up a company’s story chain you go. That is, a tagline for example is much more difficult to create than a letter advising about a new product line.

One of the main things you want from a message’s one central truth is that is ‘rings true’.

And luckily, it is a relatively simple thing to test among work and non-work colleagues whether the encapsulating idea you’re playing with, actually works for them. Ask them and gauge their reaction.

Want an example of a tagline that possesses one central truth?

Look no further than Las Vegas.

Prior to 2004 the city attempted to position itself as a great family destination, a bit like Disneyland.

Anyone who has, or hasn’t for that matter, been to Las Vegas, knows this is rubbish.

What did the Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority do – it created the following tagline, which reinforced peoples’ image of the gambler’s paradise, and tourists returned.

What was, and still is, its tagline?

What Happens Here, Stays Here

Perfect