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If ever there was a passive suffix, it’s ‘ing’. Not everywhere, of course. I mean, you can’t exactly leave ‘ing’ off words 100% of the time. Let’s not be pedantic here. But there are times when ‘ing’ is just not your best friend. I’m talking about tag lines, for starters.Consider the alternatives for these examples. Which do you think makes a better impact?
XYZ Cafe: “Making delicious coffee daily.” or “We make great coffee every day!”
ABC Car Wash: “Keeping your car spic n span.” or “ABC makes your car sparkle!”
DEF Software: “Solving your company’s data storage issues.” or “Your company’s data storage – solved.”
Those flaccid, wishy-washy ‘ing words just don’t drive home the key points well enough. They are the limp salad leaves in your marketing bowl. What you need are crisp, tight, fresh, tantalising tag lines, and ‘ing words just don’t make the grade.
Out of 360+ big business tag lines listed here, there are only five … count ’em … five that start with an ‘ing word. You’ll recognise one of them on this very American list: “Taking care of business” which over there is for Office Depot and which of course is Officeworks here. In this case, taking is not passive, it’s indicative of an ongoing service, something you can count on every day, i.e. that Officeworks will help you with your business needs now and forever more. (They should be so lucky, but you get the point.) But in general, for small businesses that don’t have the benefit of a multi-million dollar marketing budget that can have their logo plastered over TV screens, an excruciatingly memorable jingle and highly visible billboards, ditch the ‘ing.
Wherever you need a tag line, a punchy intro or a compelling heading, think twice before you use ‘ing. Grab the idea by the bouncy round things and DRIVE IT HOME!