In a word, yes. Especially in a hashtag- and keyword-based world. Of course, not every organization needs a tag line. The American Red Cross does not use one. But then, you know what they do and how they do it. Sometimes, the very best tag lines tell you why an organization does what it does. In consultant-speak, this is called the “Vision” of the organization (as opposed to the Mission, which is the what and the how). So, your mission might be to feed the homeless, but your vision is a world without homelessness. And that premise–and your passion about it–should underly your tag line.
The Salvation Army has a tagline:
Doing the Most Good®
It’s a little generic. But my guess is they decided to have this because the words “salvation” and “army” both carry heavy negative connotations. The word “good” by contrast, has a very warm and fuzzy feel to it. “Doing” demonstrates an active stance. “Doing good” could describe pretty much any nonprofit. By adding in “most” they are communicating effectiveness and efficiency–the best use of your money.
Many nonprofits less well known than The Salvation Army use a tag line to enhance identity and market positioning in a crowded space. Particularly if the name does not provide full clarity about their Mission or Vision. One of my favorites is the tag for Common Cause: Holding Power Accountable.
When developing a tag line, there are three steps you can take to help you:
1. Define Your Brand Personality (smart, young, respected, edgy, etc.)
2. Define Your Vision (the way the world would be if you succeeded 100% in your mission) and what makes you so passionate about it.
3. Determine Your “Gap”–that is, the gap that might exist between what your name says and who you are, which is often the gap between what people know about you and what you WANT them to know about you.
Defining your message in just a few words can be a challenge, but a tag line can go a long way towards helping you define your identity in an ever-crowded marketplace.
Amy DeLouise consults on nonprofit branding, and produces digital content to promote those brands.