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A Great Tagline. A Great Company.

A few years ago, we were bouncing around the idea of replacing “Choose Your Words Wisely.” In retrospect, it was a silly exercise because we have a great tagline. But one alternative we quite liked was “Well said. Well read.”

It was objectively good: catchy, well-balanced, thought-provoking. We knew it (or an iteration of it) would find a home somewhere.

Leslie Baker helped us come up with their great tagline

Leslie Baker

We’re pleased to report that it did. And here’s how it happened.

Re:worded fans: Meet KB4 Communications

A little over a year ago, we did an interview with Rick Kotick. At the time, he was Head of Competitive Intelligence at RBC. He’s moved up in the world and is now VP of Intelligence. But more importantly, he and Leslie Baker (a marketing director at the same bank) started a side hustle to improve the way people in the corporate world speak and write to each other.

 

Rick Kotick helped us come up with their great tagline

Rick Kotick

Both Rick and Leslie are expert communicators. And in their respective roles, they noticed a problem: universities were spitting out brilliant analytical minds, but not offering the soft skills training to effectively share their thoughts. As a result, messages and directives are getting lost, people are getting frustrated, deadlines are being missed and business is suffering.

The KB4 hypothesis is pretty simple: if people were clearer and more intentional in their communication, everyone’s productivity would increase. So they started a company to offer that training.

And they needed a great tagline for their new venture. So they came to us.

KB4’s tagline had to kill it.

They’re a professional communication company in the business of promoting clarity and purposefulness. We knew this had to come through in their tagline. And we knew the tagline had to be aspirational.

Their target customer is someone who either wants to be a better communicator themselves or needs their people to be better communicators. KB4 had to demonstrate through their great tagline that they understood exactly what their audience wanted.

So we started tossing ideas around. Some were better than others, but we weren’t getting anywhere good. That’s par for the course in tagline development, though. Think about it: a tagline has to sum up a company’s mission, ethos and promise in five words. You’re not going to hit eureka right away. You have to get the bad ideas on paper and out of the way so you can get to the gold.

We went through a fair amount of bad, and just before we decided to call it a night, we remembered “Well said. Well read.” It wasn’t exactly right, but it felt like a strong jumping-off point.

We immediately gave the lads a call and shared the idea with them. At first blush, they loved it, but they agreed that it wasn’t quite there. We both decided to sleep on it and workshop it further in the AM.

We woke up the next morning to an email from Rick. All it had was a subject line:

“Be Heard. Be Read.”

Killed it.

Clear? Yup. Aspirational? Yup. Overpromising? Nope.

“Be Heard. Be Read” is exactly what Rick and Leslie’s customers want, and exactly what Rick and Leslie help their customers achieve. And it’s only four words.

We loved it when we saw it. We still love it. And we love getting updates from the KB4 crew on their LinkedIn page. They just ran their first series of workshops to rave reviews. If they asked us to guest-host a session on snappy writing that gets co-workers’ attention, we’d be happy to do it. Hint, hint.

As you think about your next great tagline…

Think of it like it’s the first thing people are going to know about your business. It’s your ice-breaker, your mood-setter, your opening statement. If you get it right, people will want to know more about you. And then you can sell them on whatever you want.

5 elements of a great tagline:

  1. Phonetic balance: Easy to say; rolls off the tongue.
  2. Less than five words: Anything more is a statement, not a line.
  3. Future-pointed: Describe the ideal and show that you believe it’s possible.
  4. Simple language: Everyone should get it.
  5. Positivity: Make people feel good about you.

P.S.: It appears The Globe and Mail’s picking up what we’re throwing, as their newest tagline is “Well written. Well Read.”

What is Enjoyable Content?

Fun!

 

Content marketing, as an industry, is obsessed with best practices to ensure effective content, not enjoyable content:

–  This is how many keywords you need

–  This is the keyword frequency you should be aiming for

–  This is the time of day you should post

–  This is the blah b-blah b-blah

Sometimes we think the complexity of content marketing rules exist solely as a way for content marketers to generate more content. You’ll find a million pieces of content spewing out there about what you should be doing, when you should be doing it and how sorry you’ll be if you don’t.

But here’s the little secret they don’t tell you in these data-driven blog posts: if people stop reading it after the first line because it’s boring or useless or not at all what the reader had in mind from the description when he or she clicked the link to get to it, then following all those rules is a waste of your time.

And so, above all else, content has to be enjoyable. But what does that even mean when everyone’s definition of “enjoyable” is so different?

We think it means three things:

Enjoyable content solves a problem

It doesn’t matter what the problem is or how trivial it may be. And “problem” doesn’t have to be a negative thing either. A problem could be “How do I get better at Scrabble?” or “How to make a sandwich that won’t get soggy?” (Ed. note: use the cheese or meat as a barrier between the bread and wet ingredients like tomatoes or pickles).

When readers can come away from a piece of content having learned something they can actually use (which you’ll no doubt do next time you make yourself a sandwich), most find that enjoyable. Content like that is helpful, and everybody likes a bit of help ¾ even if they say they don’t.

Enjoyable content is friendly

Yes, there’s something to be said about professionalism. You’re not going to pepper your piece with OMGs. But regardless of the subject matter, it shouldn’t be stuffy either. Remember, even PhDs put their pants on one leg at a time. They’re people, not boring, soulless robots. Don’t write to that.

Write to the person on the 5:30 train home, not the 8:30 train in. That means short sentences with small words that everyone gets. It means getting to the point quickly and not waxing poetically about yourself. It means making the reader feel good by showing them a future state with your product or service as opposed to making the reader feel crappy by showing them a future state without your product or service.

Enjoyable content is credible

It’s hard to enjoy what you don’t believe so your content should be giving readers reasons to buy in. If it’s an opinion piece, the opinions should be backed up by sourced facts. If it’s a fluff piece, the topic should be well-researched so it adds value to the reader. And if it’s supposed to be a funny piece, then make sure it’s funny. Not much worse than trying for a laugh and coming up short.

And why do you need enjoyable content?

For the same reason movie theatres need enjoyable movies, sports teams need enjoyable players and companies need enjoyable people: it’s much easier to get buy-in when everyone’s smiling.