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Though everyone recognizes a great slogan or tagline when they see one (Apple: “Think Different,” Southwest Airlines: “Ding! You Are Now Free To Move About the Country,” and State Farm: “Like a Good Neighbor, State Farm is There”), few small business owners actually have a concrete message strategy.
The key to connecting with consumers is having a core message that immediately and effectively represents not just the brand’s values, but the customer’s desires. And while this may sound easy, inspiring people to take action (i.e. respond to your message) takes more than just building a website and tossing a few choice words onto a banner. Before you can share your core message, you must understand the purpose and goals driving your brand.
From HingeMarketing: A brand’s message “provides the words that help customers and prospects understand a firm’s value (why it’s useful) and values (what it believes in). It articulates the brand’s promise and stimulates desire for a firm’s services. Messaging can take various forms—a tagline, ad slogans, headlines—but they all share a few common traits. Persuasive brand messages are always brief and convey critical aspects of a firm’s brand.”
Here are three key factors to improve your brand’s core message.

Brevity Rules

Have you heard of the California Milk Processor Board (CMPB)? Not many people will remember this agency’s name, but almost everyone recognizes their famous tagline “Got Milk?” that was part of a campaign to motivate people to choose a healthier beverage than soda. Interestingly, CMPB wasn’t trying to grow their brand; they just wanted to inspire the nation to drink more milk. Like Nike’s “Just Do It!” slogan, the “Got Milk?” message resonated with consumers in a powerful way, crossing the traditional boundaries of age, gender, and social standing.
Key Factor #1 – Keep your message brief. Your slogan is like a mini mission statement, but if you can’t tell your story in fifty words or less, don’t expect your customers to be able to figure out who you are and why they need your product or service. Another benefit of keeping the message succinct is that consumers are more likely to share catchy taglines with friends and colleagues, expanding your reach via word of mouth.

It’s Not About You

Everyone has heard that familiar breakup line, “It’s not you, it’s me.” Well, when it comes to creating taglines and slogans that hit their mark, you have to turn that around. Brand messaging isn’t so much about the product or service you’re offering as it is about what the consumer needs and wants. Remember, CMPB wasn’t trying to build name recognition for themselves, they were trying to inspire the nation to drink milk, a generic, fairly boring product distributed by thousands of retailers. For a small business owner, this strategy may mean appealing to a consumer’s desire to increase their family’s safety rather than extoling the actual in-home security system you’re trying to sell.
Key Factor #2 – Take time to get to know your target audience. Do your research. Encourage prospects and customers to complete online surveys via your website and social platforms to gain deeper insight into their intrinsic values. Pay attention to how they speak and what they’re talking about.

Perception and Emotions Often Trump Facts and Figures

The consumer journey is personal, and crafting taglines, slogans, and headlines that resonate with your audience is complex. Most small business decision makers know they need a mobile-friendly website and domain name that makes it easy for Internet searchers to find them, but then they forget that their consumers are human beings.
L’Oreal’s “Because You’re Worth It” campaign (which made it on HubSpot’s list of companies that really nailed the tagline) focuses on women’s desire to look beautiful and desirable. The marketing agency went right to the heart of the issue, zeroing in on how the product makes users feel rather than touting the virtues, like reducing signs of age and imperfections, of the cosmetic line. The promise behind the message was powerful: you’re worth the investment and you deserve it.
Emotions compel consumers to action. Research on consumer buying behavior demonstrates that people develop opinions about brand personality the same way they perceive personalities in other people. The type of words, visual imagery, and packaging used in articulating a brand’s core message work together to convey a company’s value as well as its values.
Key Factor #3 – By a factor of 3:1 for TV advertising and 2:1 for print media, emotional response to messaging influences consumers’ intent to purchase more than content. Appeal to the emotional senses by clearly articulating why people should follow your brand—and be sure that your message conveys what’s in it for the buyer.

Start With the Basics

Many small business owners think only the “Big Guys” have the financial resources and access to talent to create killer slogans and headlines. Often, the success of a new slogan surprises even the professionals. Nike marketers never expected their “Just Do It” campaign to resonate with non-athletes. And who could have imagined that the “Got Milk” campaign would run for two decades? Creating fantastic taglines starts with a clearly defined message and an investment of time in getting to know your target audience.
So go ahead and build a website that is mobile friendly and fully optimized. But don’t neglect sitting down and spending some time reflecting on your core values. Remember, what works best is succinct, emotionally charged, and focuses on the customer’s needs. Learn more about what a reliable web hosting partner like Bluehost can do to help you grow your business.

  • Devin Sears

    Devin is a Senior Event Marketing Manager for the Bluehost brand. He is our brand steward for all things Bluehost and WordPress. You'll always see him supporting Bluehost at WordCamps around the world!

    Brigham Young University
    Previous Experience
    Social Media, Customer Experience, Field Marketing, Sponsorships, Event Coordinator
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