Is it time for a new tagline?

Start the year fresh and collaborate with your team to create a modern slogan that conveys your IGC’s missions and values.

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New year, new motto: 2023 could be the perfect time to bring employees together to revamp your IGC’s slogan. While you’re at it, consider coming up with an updated tagline that shows customers how your brand has evolved over the years to meet their needs today.

When was the last time your company changed its tagline? Does your current tagline still speak about your IGC’s brand or does it sound dated? Do the words under your store’s name still speak to your customers about your values?

A company’s tagline should be a memorable motto that expresses your IGC’s mission and purpose. Ideally, it should resonate emotionally with your customers, promote benefits and help you stand out among your competitors.

If you feel that a change might be in order, one of the best places to start is with your staff. Brainstorming about a new tagline can be a fun activity at an employee gathering in the new year. Focusing on the company motto gets your team thinking creatively for a common purpose and keeps people thinking thoughtfully about your IGC’s values and your customers’ desires.

Whether you’re asking the entire employee pool for suggestions, or just management or your board, begin with a few guidelines. In general, shorter taglines are more memorable. That said, a longer motto might work well if it’s clever. Most people remember, “With a name like Smucker’s, it has to be good” or FedEx’s “When it absolutely, positively has to be there overnight.”

Even astute or humorous taglines can grow old, however, especially if they use trendy wording. “Your groovy garden center” might have had a good ring in 1968, but it just sounds silly now. In general, you should avoid repeating words that are in your name, although again, there are exceptions to this guideline.

Those loose suggestions aside, gather people in a room with pencil and paper for a brainstorming session. Asking staff to write things down will draw more suggestions than calling them out loud, since many people are reluctant to offer up random ideas verbally in a group.

Have either a large dry-erase board or big pads of paper on an easel at the front of the room. Begin by giving everyone in attendance four sheets of paper and explain that you’re not looking for them to come up with a tagline, but want them to record single words or short phrases. It’s far less intimidating to record a few words than to think up an entire motto, and you might find that your tagline results from cutting and pasting what the team writes down.

On the first sheet, ask your team to write all of the words that occur to them about the business you’re in. Pass those papers to the front and keep them in a pile. On another sheet of paper, request that they write words that convey what makes your IGC special. When they’re done, pass those papers to the front and keep them in another stack. The third set of words can be about your company values. For example, are you committed to honest information, organic practices or friendly service? Compile those sheets in another pile. Finally, have them write what they think customers want from your IGC.

Now that you have four sheets from each person, write all of the words from the first sheet down on the pad or dry-erase board, but do not record duplicates. Do the same for each sheet so that you have a good selection of free associations about your business. You might also consider putting the name of your region or town on the list.

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Jot words, connections and ideas on different sheets of paper to create a mix-and-match pool of potential slogans.

Verbalize the next part and ask your team to look at the board or papers taped to the wall and combine them into suggested taglines. Let’s say your location is in Indiana and you’ve got the following words at the front of the room:

Sheet 1: Plants, gardens, landscape, growing, beauty, cultivate, thrive

Sheet 2: Service, friendly, knowledgeable, selection, local

Sheet 3: Honest, helpful, committed, best plants and products for Indiana

Sheet 4: Success, healthy plants, organic solutions, guidance

From just these few words, you could create the following taglines:

  • Planting service and success
  • Best plants, service and products for cultivating Indiana landscapes
  • Selection, service and success
  • Indiana’s plant and landscape connection
  • Cultivating Indiana landscapes since 1985
  • Committed to cultivating beauty and success
  • Healthy plants, knowledgeable advice and friendly service
  • Cultivating gardens, friendship and success
  • Planting beauty and success
  • Healthy plants, organic solutions and friendly guidance
  • Since alliteration always has a certain appeal, look for words that start with the same sound or letter and suggest taglines built on those. For example:

    • Plants, products and passion
    • Growing gorgeous gardens
    • Service, selection and success
    • Healthy plants and helpful service for your happy garden

    Whatever the results of this brainstorming session, know that you don’t have to settle on your new motto immediately. Often, it’s helpful to stop and let all of the ideas settle for a few days. Leave the results of this free association up on the walls so that people can come up with additional combinations and ideas. As we all know, when enough seeds are planted, you are sure to grow something great.

    C.L. Fornari is a speaker, writer and radio/podcast host who has worked at Hyannis Country Garden, an IGC on Cape Cod, for more than 20 years. She has her audiences convinced that C.L. stands for “Compost Lover.” Learn more at 

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