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How do I choose a tagline for my accountancy firm?

You’re working on your brand and you have a tagline you’ve thrown around for awhile, or a member of the PF team throws out an idea and you’re wondering – do I need a tagline? How could I use it? Will it make marketing easier?

And, most importantly, how do I come up with a tagline that is right for my firm and audience?

Taglines have many purposes.

A tagline is a short, memorable phrase used in marketing campaigns to convey your firm’s value or services. If it’s right, it will help your prospects and clients remember your brand.

It may be part of, or typically displayed beneath, your logo. Or, you could use it for a campaign for a specific service.

There are several different types of taglines that you might consider using.

The call-to-action or “imperative” type: This type names a decisive action or change that your clients can make. For example, the accountancy firm Raffa used “Do more” to call their non-profit sector clients to be able to do more with better accounting and tax savings. In another example, Fearless Financials uses the tagline “Be you, Be brave, Build a better business”.

The best-in-industry or superlative type: This type stakes claims to your leadership within the industry. For example, BMW calls itself “The ultimate driving machine”.

The brand mission type: This type speaks to something about the feeling that your firm’s brand is meant to communicate. For example, Myers-Clark uses “Serious about your ambitions”.

The thought-provoking type: This type gives the reader something to think about or challenges their way of thinking. For example, Tanner Accountants and Advisors uses “Big enough. Small enough.” This captures the attention of prospects who wonder whether it is better to have a big accountancy firm or a small, family firm. With Tanner, could you get both?

The straight-up descriptor type: The descriptor type helps to very quickly identify exactly what you do. Many of the accountancy firms we work with use this type of tagline and we’ve found that in most cases this is the type that provides the most value in the case of accountancy firms. For example, to quickly communicate their services, InventWealth uses “CPAs and Tax Advisors” as their tagline.

No business *needs* a tagline.

Nobody *has* to have a tagline, but they can be useful for helping people to get an idea of your brand’s personality or offering.

For most of the accountants we work with, a HUGE investment of time in a tagline might not be helpful. Developing a tagline from scratch will take a few thousand pounds and several weeks.

So, do you *need* a tagline? There are a couple of questions to ask yourself that will help you determine whether you need a tagline. If you answer “yes” to all of the following questions, a tagline could be a good investment of time and money right now.

  1. Is your brand squared away?
    First of all, do people understand who you are and what you do? If they don’t, back up and ask yourself if this isn’t a bigger issue with your brand than just developing a tagline. Does your brand truly reflect who you are? Does it tell a story that is relevant to your intended audience? If your brand isn’t squared away first, your tagline won’t be able to be effective.
  2. Are you already inspired?
    Second, has a tagline or theme for a tagline begun to reveal itself? During all your work in marketing so far, did an idea for a tagline come up? Has your team “unofficially” developed a tagline that is known in-house? If no ideas for taglines have ever come up, you may be better off waiting until this begins to come to light.
  3. Will a tagline actually ADD value?
    This question is the most complicated. For some firms, their name and brand is so unique and contradictory to a typical accounting firm, that a simple “tax and accounting” tagline is helpful. Some firms want to make sure that it’s obvious they are a group of CPA’s and so their tagline will be “Certified Public Accountants”. For other firms, their firm name is more traditional and a less descriptive tagline could show their unique differentiator. For some brands, neither their tagline nor name strongly indicate “accountancy” but their colors, fonts, and imagery suggest the services they offer. There is a lot of nuance in this question, so chat with a PF team member about it if your answers to the first two questions were “yes” but you aren’t sure whether a tagline will actually help your firm.

If you determine you *do* need a tagline, how do you go about choosing one?

How do I choose a tagline?

Practically, if you were going to choose a tagline using PF’s process, first we would have five strategy sessions with you around all the foundational areas of marketing. We would download all the information from you about your ideal clients, the work you do, and what your brand means.

Then, we start building a word cloud around your mission statement. We would make a list of all the phrases that answer questions like Why are we here? What do we do? How do we do it? What makes us different? Who are we here for? What do we value most? What’s our personality? We’re famous for being… We make you feel…. We always deliver…

After that, over the course of a couple of weeks, two PF team members will each write 5 taglines for each of the types of taglines mentioned above.

At the end of that work, we have 50 possible tagline options. We’ll narrow down the list based on other aspects of the brand – for example, does the name better lend itself to a descriptor-type tagline because the name itself doesn’t sound very accountancy-like? We talk through these and narrow down our list to ten (a top five from each team member).

Then, we take a few days away and come back to the taglines again, this time narrowing our choices down to our top two for each team member. From there, we meet together and choose the top tagline to present to the client.

This is a lengthy and particular process that we developed ourselves, but it helps to make sure that the tagline we come up with isn’t just a tagline…it’s a GOOD tagline.

How do I recognize a GOOD tagline?

 

Check for the 3 C’s

Clear: The message you want to communicate through your tagline must be clear. If you create a tagline that is clever but confusing, it will fail to deliver a message that links to the difference you offer.

Catchy: Your tagline needs to be catchy so that it is easy to remember and recall. Rhyming, creative word placement and phonetic appeal all add to the memorabilia of your tagline.

Concise: As a rule of thumb, aim for between 4-5 words in your tagline. The longer it is, the less catchy it will be.

And, if possible, make it clever. A tagline that your audience appreciates will make it more memorable.

Use the “who else could this apply to” test

Countless times, I’ve been asked my opinion on taglines like this:

  • Dare to be different
  • Exceptional service at ideal prices
  • Caring, helpful support

The “who else could this apply to?” test means that you take that tagline, and think of all the industries or businesses that this tagline could also be used for. All three of the above taglines could be used for just about any service business in the known world, and some of them could be used for product-based businesses as well. The point of a tagline is that it quickly gets across who you are, and who you are not.

These above are not taglines….they’re vague statements of positive feeling.

Check for niche relevance

Your tagline could name your niche, and it will definitely need to speak to your niche if you have one. For example, Coterie uses the tagline “Salon Advisors” because they are an accountancy firm that specifically works with salons.

If you need PF’s help in identifying whether you need a tagline or want help coming up with a tagline, book a Foundations workshop to get started with those 5 strategy sessions.