Influence people

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

What Makes a Good Slogan?

After headlines, slogans are my favorite kind of copywriting assignment.

A good slogan, like a good business card, is one of the least expensive marketing tools you'll find.

If nothing else, a good slogan will make buyers a wee bit more receptive to your firm. 

At best, a good slogan will make you more memorable.

Slogans can connect the dots between your goals and buyers'.  They can act as shorthand guarantees.  They can crystallize your brand's "essence."  They can put into a phrase your buyers' dreams.

Good slogans aren't always short, dramatic, edgy or even original.

But good slogans are always authentic.  The communicate what you're really about and slip safely past buyers' built-in BS detectors.

And good slogans are always distinctive.  They help buyers tell you apart from competitors.  That's why a pedestrian slogan like "Organic supplements for ethnic grocers" can be spot on.

In fact, distinction is the ultimate purpose behind using a slogan and the reason the device caught on in the first place.  

The slogan became the signature weapon of advertisers in the late 19th century, when factory-made goods began to flood America's retail stores. 

Advertisers found they needed something besides a name and package to distinguish what were, for the most part, commodity products.

Evocative slogans (like "Ivory Soap. It floats.") helped do the trick.

Below are just four sample slogans, culled from recent magazine ads.  

While none has quite the magic of "Breakfast of Champions" or "Just Do It," consider in each case how much these few words add to your impression of the advertisers.

For a manufacturer of tractors for sheep breeders:

Kioti. Run ahead of the pack.

For a manufacturer of broadcaster's equipment:  

NewTek. Innovative Solutions for Graphics, Film and Television Production.

For a manufacturer of skin care products:

Origins. Powered by Nature. Proven by  Science.

For a nonprofit:

The Nature Conservancy.  Protecting nature. Preserving life.

What do you think makes a good slogan?

3 comments:

  1. For me, what distinguishes "Breakfast of Champions" and "Just Do It" is that they invite you to use the product to better yourself, or take yourself to another place. The invitation + promise of something better makes them great. Otherwise, they're just descriptive and more focused on the company/organization than the person they're trying to influence.

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  2. You're right, Dan, about the source of these slogans' power: a focus on customers' dreams. That's not only direction to take when crafting a slogan, but it's a smart one. In copywriting, you can never focus too much on the customer. As David Meerman Scott likes to say, "The customer doesn't care about your products."

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