Taking Your Tagline Personally

I‘ve been reading “Robin Hood Marketing” by Katya Andresen for the third time (love it!). She writes about the most successful tagline in marketing history: “Just Do It“. This tagline says nothing about the goals or mission of the Nike Corporation. Instead, this tagline speaks powerfully to us all, on an emotional level – encouraging us to take action, to pursue our dreams, to make a mark in the world! Katya uses the Nike example to explain how non-profits can leverage their marketing efforts by focusing on their client’s basic values, needs, desires and emotions.

Nancy E. Schwartz is another authority on non-profit marketing. She recently posted the winners of her “2008 Getting Attention Nonprofit Tagline Awards“. She writes that “taglines can work as a first step in branding or as a highly-effective tool to refresh a nonprofit’s messaging”.

As I read the winning taglines, I couldn’t help but notice how they focused on the customer’s emotions and needs rather than the mission of the non-profit.

Here are my three favorite taglines from the awards:

  • Civic Benefit: Stand Up for a Child
    • Why does this work so well? It motivates potential donors or volunteers to take righteous action on behalf of a child. This also speaks subliminally to the “inner child” who was never heard.
  • Arts & Culture: Where Actors Find Their Space
    • Why does this work so well? This speaks directly to Artists and Actors who use rehearsal spaces. “We provide space for Actors”, could have been a good tagline, but it wouldn’t as customer-centric (“We” would refer to the NPO).
  • Human Services: When You Can’t Do It Alone
    • Why does this work so well? Again, the potential client’s constant desire for help during tough circumstances is addressed in an emotionally direct manner.

A recent news article re-enforced for me the value of good taglines:

DMANF Recognizes Operation Smile as 2008 Nonprofit Organization of the Year.

Operation Smile provides free surgery to children in developing countries who were born with facial deformities. Their tagline is “Changing Lives One Smile At A Time“. Double entendres aside, this tagline has at least four customer-centric messages:

1: “Every child has limitless value”: This idea is conveyed with “One Smile At A Time”.
2: “Operation Smile get’s results”: “One Smile At A Time” conveys a very realistic and pragmatic approach to a widespread problem.
3: “These children can change the world”: “Changing Lives One Smile At A Time” can also mean that once these children have surgery, their smiles (their passion and joy) can change the lives of others.
4: “I Can Make Someone Smile”:The tagline also conveys the altruistic desire that donors have to help another person. Operation Smile also runs ads that say: “With your donation, you can make somebody smile today”.

My point here? Creating client-focused taglines should be a “shoe-in” for mission-based non-profits.

If you liked this, you should read these:

Quick video on Cause-Related Marketing
Your NPO’s Sustainable Energy
The NPO Elevator Pitch
SEO Resource Assessment

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John Haydon