Brand development – the importance of key descriptors in building a personality

The word 'brand' drawn out with coloured pencils

Sarah Sullivan


Posted on August 5, 2019

Like it or not, we live in a world of short attention spans. We want our ideas and our information as fast and precise as our tech, our food, our delivery services. Anything that takes too long or has to be guessed at will be dismissed.

Knowing this is a challenge for businesses. We need to connect with an audience quickly if we want to stand a chance of cutting through the competition. There is no better way to do this than through the use of a good tagline.

Taglines, or key descriptors, under or incorporated into your logo can communicate everything that’s most important about your brand in one glance. Get it right and your audience will feel that you’re a good fit for them and what they want within seconds.

Start with your brand

Most corporate businesses these days have cottoned onto the fact that branding isn’t just for hip smoothie companies – it’s for all of us. Allowing your marketing to be underpinned by a clear and confident sense of your business’ personality and identity is how you’ll stand out, build a sense of loyalty, and how you’ll grow. Remember: it’s your personality and not your product that will have the biggest impact on someone’s perception and recall of you.

A robust branding document that captures this personality is where the quest for the perfect tagline starts. But do you have one? If you’re looking to change your company’s key descriptor, now’s the perfect time to make sure.

By asking questions about your business’ personality, your values, your position in the market and your key messages, you can begin to collate useful brand summaries to guide your tagline ideas.

These summaries can provide a clear direction, too. Branding isn’t simply a reflection of who you are now – it’s aspirational. How do you want your business to be seen? It’s just the same when we try to make changes in our personal relationships – what you put out there and how you behave comes first. People’s perceptions of you won’t alter till you do.

Find the right words

Once you’ve got your brand summaries in place, you can begin to look for the messages and ideas that unify them and sit at the heart of your brand. Can you get it down into one short sentence? This isn’t your final key descriptor, but it’s your place to start.

Once you know the essence of what you need to communicate, tagline writing is simply about finding new ways to say the same thing, in as a few words as possible. This means giving yourself time to play, experimenting with different constructions, seeing how hard you can make a few words work.

Checking your ideas against this list of top tagline attributes can help you to push yourself and your words. Could you change one word for extra impact, incorporate another attribute or simplify it further?

Above all, you’re aiming for something simple, succinct and memorable but this isn’t as easy as it sounds, and that’s why good agencies and copywriters are worth their weight in gold.

Don’t be afraid to hire help if you need it. Remember, your tagline may be your audience’s very first introduction to your brand. It’s not worth cutting corners.

Check no-one else has got there first

Sadly, there is rarely such thing as a truly original concept and our brains often follow the same pathways when we’re chasing thoughts. If you’ve come up with something catchy and clever, chances are someone else might have thought of the same thing.

Similar ideas aren’t the end of the world, but think about the associations that ideas or phrases may already have attached to them. Above all, check that no one else in direct competition or a similar position in the market is using them already: you want to stand out, not be confused with someone else.

We provide marketing and branding services to financial service providers and lists like this ‘Biggest List of Financial Slogans Ever’ are always worth a check when working on ideas to avoid any potential embarrassment.

Learn from others

Looking at the key descriptors of other businesses isn’t only useful to check yours is original, it’s the perfect way to encourage new ideas too.

The world is full of taglines that you’ll wish you’d thought of that will leave you itching to wanting to improve yours. Looking at how other businesses have used key descriptors to boost their brand can provide some useful pointers, too.

Let your tagline inspire further change

Used well, your key descriptor can not only define your brand’s personality and provide an instant hook for audiences to grasp onto, it also can be what unifies your channels and your marketing activity and what challenges you to change and grow.

That’s a lot of power to invest in a few words. It’s worth getting it right.