A good slogan says a little about your company or entices people to come by your store. A great slogan positions your business and motivates customers.

Slogans are the glue that bonds your marketing campaign together. I have identified the main categories of slogans.

Unique – Every slogan should be unique, and most slogans are registered by law for a given amount of time. Unique in this instance involves giving your business an angle to help gain top-of-the-mind awareness. For example, Taco Bell uses, “Think outside the bun,” to lure people away from McDonald’s. When most people think fast food, they turn to the golden arches. Taco Bell’s slogan positions themselves as different from a burger establishment – and it is working. In a BusinessWeek survey, 34% of the 500 participants could recall the slogan.

Advantage – If you develop a similar product as your direct competition, your slogan needs to address an advantage. Consumers often ask the question, “What’s in it for me?” Everyone in the competitive business world thinks they have an edge on the competition. A slogan identifies the advantage and tries to swing public opinion your way. Let’s examine the pick-up truck industry. Recently, Japanese trucks have been infiltrating the traditionally American market. The Toyota Tundra uses the slogan, “The truck that’s changing it all.” The advantage demonstrated here is that Japan is bringing a new and innovative way of thinking to the consumer. Ford counters with the slogan “Built Ford Tough.” The Ford example does two things. One, it fits the rugged desire of consumers by being “tough.” Second, it caters to the consumers’ fear of losing domestic products to foreign countries. Ford is one of the oldest and most recognizable brands in America. Advantage slogans often give a glimpse into company values.

Inquiry – People love to interact and be a part of a specific idea. If you want to know people better, ask questions. A slogan phrased as a question can encourage people to engage your business because they take the question into themselves and in answering it, discover they are interested in what you are marketing. If you ran a business and wanted people to become involved with your product you might have one of the following slogans: “What’s in your wallet?” “Is it in you?” or “Got milk?” These are the slogans for Capital One, Gatorade and California Milk Processor Board. People seeing the slogan would ask the question and think about your brand. They assume that the product should be in their wallet or that they should drink the beverage. Question slogans must be set up in a way to solicit a positive answer, but they serve businesses well when it comes to customer buy-in.

Goal – People have repeatedly shown that we engage in goal setting behavior. A slogan that sets a goal gives people something to work toward in a structured fashion. What they don’t realize is the pursuit of their goal will bring them in direct contact with you. For example, All State’s slogan is “You’re in good hands.” For people purchasing insurance, being taken care of is the goal of making the purchase. In the same BusinessWeek survey, this was the most recalled slogan at 87%. Not only is it a good slogan, but they have used the same slogan for a very long time. The longevity is key for two reasons. One, it produces a higher recall rate because people are more inclined to remember it if they hear it more. Second, an insurance company that uses the same slogan is symbolic of stability. It’s the reason why consumers have investigated this company to see if it can help them reach their goals.

Humor – Comedy works, but be careful. Here are a few things to think about when developing a humorous slogan. Is the slogan a punch line? Remember this slogan will go on every piece of advertising you do. If you don’t like it when an elder tells the same story every time, think about being that person and saying that joke to thousands of people a day. Some people just hate puns. A radiator company using the slogan, “best place to take a leak” is funny. For most people, it would stick in their mind and send them to that establishment. But for others, the use of toilet humor could be seen as offensive and actually drive them away from your store. If you want to be humorous, please save the joke for the creative campaign elements. It’s better to be safe, than sorry.

Some tips on making memorable slogans:

  • Use a rhyme- “Plop. Plop. Fizz. Fizz. Oh What a Relief It Is” (Alka Seltzer)
  • Use a moniker or nickname- The Big Apple (New York City)
  • Use a verb with a variable noun – Shift_excellence, Shift_luxury (Nissan)

Creating a slogan requires a professional ability to analyze consumer behaviors and motivating factors that affect your business. With the right slogan, your message will break through the clutter and entice prospects to engage with your business.

What are some of your favorite slogans and why? Visit our blog at absolutemg.com to comment on this article and discuss what makes a great slogan.

Reference: BusinessWeek, David Kiley, “Can You Name That Slogan?” October 14, 2004.