9 Examples of Bad Website Taglines: Can You Guess What These Companies Do?

Have you noticed how you learn best if you’ve experienced something first-hand?

Let’s say your spouse has been telling you for days to take an umbrella because it’s April, and the rain showers come without warning.

You ignore this advice till one day you return home soaking wet. Guess who’s taking an umbrella to work tomorrow?

It’s the same with the advice you find online.

All those well-crafted blog posts explaining to you why doing X is a bad idea pale before your first-hand experience of actually doing X and losing clients.

So I had an idea:

How about a fun experiment where you slip into the shoes of your website visitors and experience first-hand what it feels like when they can’t figure out what a company does?

Below, you’ll find nine real-life examples of website taglines and three possible explanations of what those companies do. How many of these taglines can you get right?

Website Tagline #1/9

Website tagline example 1: Could instinct make you extinct?

What is this company?

(click on an answer to select)

  1. Business growth consultancy
  2. SEO agency for local businesses
  3. Online encyclopedia of common misconceptions

(Correct answer: A)

Could instinct make you extinct? What really happened to the dinosaurs? Why do bats sleep upside down?

…and other great questions to ask your website visitors to make them leave and never come back.

#workslikeacharm

Website Tagline #2/9

Website tagline example 2: Food and companionship enriching life

What does this company offer?

(click on an answer to select)

  1. Vacation on a farm for families with kids
  2. Friends for hire who’ll also cook for you
  3. Animal health products

(Correct answer: C)

Well-known but irrelevant fact: Food and companionship enrich your life. Relevant but unclear issue: What this company does.

#swingandamiss

Website Tagline #3/9

Website tagline example 3: Ground your CX strategy in ongoing employee and customer understanding

What does this company do?

(click on an answer to select)

  1. Help businesses make their employees happier
  2. Help businesses understand their customers better
  3. Make your brain hurt with their horrible website copy

(Correct answer: B)

I’ve read this sentence 10 times, and I still don’t know what it means. This one makes your brain really suffer, doesn’t it? It’s not the right answer though.

#ouch

Website Tagline #4/9

Website tagline example 4: Sault & Pepper Group. Turning vision into reality

What does this company offer?

(click on an answer to select)

  1. Black-and-white videos for your brand
  2. Marketing services
  3. Hallucinogenic drugs

(Correct answer: B)

You must admit, “Turning vision into reality” is a crystal clear clue here you cannot possibly interpret in multiple ways!

#noitsnot and #yesyoucan

Website Tagline #5/9

Website tagline example 5: Performance support partners

Whom do these people help and how?

(click on an answer to select)

  1. Businesses that want their teams to perform better
  2. Professional athletes who want to achieve higher results
  3. Men with virility issues

(Correct answer: A)

This one makes you feel really dumb, doesn’t it? You understand every word but you just can’t make sense of what these words are supposed to mean together.

So it must be your problem, not theirs. This website is for smart people, and you just aren’t one of them, sorry.

#closeyourbrowser

Website Tagline #6/9

Website tagline example 6: Culture by design

What are these guys designing?

(click on an answer to select)

  1. Websites that reflect your company’s culture
  2. Nothing. They help change culture in your organization
  3. Robots that like to go to museums

(Correct answer: B)

Be mysterious, they said. Your website visitors will love it, they said.

#theylied

Website Tagline #7/9

Website tagline example 7: Work smarter. Save time. Save money. Take control.

What is this company?

(click on an answer to select)

  1. An app that helps you be more productive
  2. Virtual assistants
  3. Business consultancy that helps entrepreneurs do… entrepreneur stuff

(Correct answer: C)

True story: On their website, it says they help entrepreneurs with literally everything. Which seems to be an answer to the question of what they do. Except it’s not because it’s unspecific.

They listed a phone number though. Hm, maybe we should call and ask? Because this is exactly what website visitors do if they don’t understand something.

#thatsnothowitworks

Website Tagline #8/9

Website tagline example 8: Built your way

What do these people build?

(click on an answer to select)

  1. Any kinds of websites
  2. Websites for construction companies
  3. Buildings

(Correct answer: A)

I think some companies get too many client inquiries. Why else would they play charades with their website visitors?

– Man, we just can’t keep up with all these client inquiries!

– I know what to do! Let’s use a cryptic website tagline that doesn’t say what we build, and then a header image of buildings so that it looks like we are in the construction business! This will weed out prospects who aren’t comitted enough to figuring out what we do.

– Genius!

#whoneedsclientsanyway

Website Tagline #9/9

Website tagline example 9: Solution for success

What do these people offer?

(click on an answer to select)

  1. Different apps for busy professionals
  2. Marketing and SEO advice
  3. They aren’t sure themselves

(Correct answer: C)

I’ve spent 10 minutes on that website, and I haven’t found a single comprehensive line that would tell me what they do. Must be something cool though. Because it solves problems and makes you successful, so…

#shutupandtakemymoney

How many did you get right?

This may feel like the most useless quiz you’ve ever taken for a moment, but bear with me, as there is a lesson to learn here.

It doesn’t matter how many of these website taglines you got right.

As a website visitor, if you don’t understand what a company does it’s not your problem. It’s theirs. It’s the responsibility of the website owner to make their message clear to their website visitors.

But did you notice how you felt when you weren’t sure what a website tagline meant?

Frustrated? Irritated? Like this company isn’t worth your time?

This is how your website visitors feel if they can’t quickly understand what it is that you do!

How to check if your website tagline is clear (and what to do if it’s not)

Say your website tagline out loud.

Will you introduce yourself with exact same words to your new acquaintance who asked you what you do for a living? Will they understand it right away or will you have to explain it?

If your new imaginary friend is confused, so are your real website visitors. Which means you need a new website tagline.

So, here’s how you get one:

Step #1: Define your target audience.

Step #2: Decide what the biggest benefit of your product or services is.

Step #3: Write down who you are, what you do and how it helps people using as many words as you need. Now, cut and rephrase it around important words.

Step #4: Read your potential website tagline out loud. Would you use the exact same words if you had to explain what you do to a friend? Could they understand it right away without further explanation?

A surefire formula for a clear website tagline

If you feel stuck, use this surefire formula to create a clear website tagline:

{What you are}. We/I {do what} {for whom} {with what benefit}.

Examples:

  • ABC copywriting agency. We turn your ideas into copy that converts.
  • Jane Smith. WordPress web designer for creative solopreneurs.

(For more great website taglines examples, check out this article.)

You may want to adjust this formula to suit your business and, for example, omit the “for whom”.

You even may not need a website tagline after all if the “who you are” part makes everything clear:

Examples:

  • Tom Brady. Copywriter.
  • Sandra Hammock. Wedding photographer.

Sure, there’s nothing exciting about the two last examples. But they are crystal clear and are 100x better than this:

Anti-examples:

  • Tom Brady. The wizard of words.
  • Sandra Hammock. Creating wonderful memories for wonderful days.

Final words of wisdom

Your website tagline can be long or short. It can be boring or punchy. It can rhyme or make people laugh, or be all of these things at once.

But there is one thing your website tagline absolutely must be: Crystal clear.

P.S. Want to take it to the next level?

Your website tagline is just the beginning. Only because your website visitors understand who you are and what you do, they may not get why they should care.

Whether your website visitors get your message or not isn’t only about words. It’s about different elements of your website working together (or at least not getting in the way).

Want to learn how to make your whole website communicate a clear message (and instantly capture your visitors’ attention)? Check out this article:

>> What Should You Do to Make Your Business Message Clear?

About the Author
Gill Andrews is a content creator and web consultant who turns underperforming websites into slick lead-generating machines. To tune up your small business website, get her ultimate website checklist 2018.

12 Comments

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  1. Wow, thanks for these fantastic and detailed tips! I have been working on a tagline for my blog recently and this will help enormously. Why is it so hard to distill what we do into just a few words? 😀

    1. Nah, I’m too much of an introvert for stand up comedy 🙂 But I do love me some sarcasm! 😄 I had lots of fun writing this post and was actually thinking you’ll appreciate this too because it’s also your kind of humor. 😉

  2. Gill,
    This has to be the most entertaining, yet informative, post I’ve read in very long time.

    I love the examples. I love the humor. I love the take away.

    Great post.

    1. Oh, you’re making me blush, dear Deborah! 😊 Thank you so much for your kind words. I’m happy to hear you enjoyed it, as I certainly enjoyed writing it! 😄

  3. Hi Gill,

    I had a good laugh! You sure know how to educate and entertain at the same time. These examples are so relatable. You see, I work in the B2B food industry and I have my fair share of what-on-earth-do-you-do moments while going through many websites. From now on, I will email this post as a complimentary gift whenever I come across such websites. Thank you!

    *Scurries off to check own website.

    1. Hi Chidinma,

      Thank you for your lovely comment! Glad to know you enjoyed this post. Honored for it to become a gift to the website owners whose websites suffer from unclear copy.

      You mentioned checking your own website. Maybe this would be even a better idea: How about this 20-question in-depth quiz that can help you identify more issues than just unclear copy: https://gillandrews.com/quiz-how-good-is-your-homepage/

      Thanks again for stopping by!

      1. Thanks Gill. I’ll definitely check out the quiz. And I didn’t just stop by, I have been a long-time fan. I always look forward to your emails. Henneke shared this post on Twitter recently and I felt guilty for not telling you how good it was all along. Keep writing!

        1. Really? That’s very nice to hear, Chidinma! Thank you so much for putting up with my newsletters and taking the time to leave a comment! 😀