How much is your streamline worth?


According to the Cambridge Dictionary, a strapline is:

A short, easily remembered phrase used by an organisation so that people will recognise it or its products.

Some of the most famous examples are:

  • Every little helps – Tesco
  • Never knowingly undersold – John Lewis
  • Because you’re worth it – L’Oréal
  • Love it or hate it – Marmite

If you get it right, your strapline will change behaviours, evoke strong feelings and increase sales.

So how much is one worth?

Or rather, how much would you pay a copywriter to come up with one for you?

Why am I asking?

Well, this post was prompted by a recent enquiry.

An agency contacted me to get a quote for creating straplines for two direct mail campaigns they were working on for their own marketing activities.

On the face of it, creating a couple of sentences sounds like child’s play and something that can be knocked out in a couple of hours (in fact that was what I was told by the guy enquiring).

But there’s so much more to it than that.

Did you know that the Metropolitan Police changed its strapline from “Working for a safer London” to “Working together for a safer London” at a cost of…wait for it…£10,000! Yup, that’s ten grand for the word “together”. (source: The Telegraph)

Now I’m not suggesting my quote was anywhere near as much as that, but it was a three-figure sum, and here’s why.

The true cost of a strapline

First off, before I can even start to get creative I have to get to know the client. I have to fully understand not only what they do, but also why they do it, their values, goals and brand personality.

Then I have to understand whom they work for, why their clients come to them, how they make their life easier and why they would choose them over their competitors.

Next up is the campaign itself. Why are they doing it? What is their end goal?

This particular agency has picked a couple of strong images that were to be linked to the strapline, so I would also need to research those to understand their meaning in relation to the agency and their clients.

That’s pretty a day’s work there already.

The next stage is to think.

Yes, I get paid to think – without thought there are no words.

Next comes brainstorming. Letting my creativity run wild I write down everything that comes into my head – the good, the bad, and the downright bizarre.

Now we’re up to about two days.

After a break, I return to that list of ideas and start to cull the bad ones and refine the good ones, each time asking myself does this satisfy the brief?

Once I’m happy with my list it goes to the client for their feedback. There might be a winner there, but if not, I take their feedback and return to the list and images to create more ideas.

Finally, success! We find the winning strapline and the project is complete.

That makes the whole process sound easy, but if you’ve ever tried to come up with a strapline or slogan you’ll know it’s one of the toughest copywriting projects out there.

There’s a huge amount of time, skill and creativity that goes into every strapline, even the Metropolitan Police example. So when you get a quote from a copywriter, understand that the cost they place on the project reflects the experience and expertise they bring to the table.