Even though most of us are familiar with the concept of slogans, believe it or not, we still get questions from people wondering exactly what constitutes a slogan. They also wonder how a few pesky words strung together can be so darn important in marketing.
The best definition of a slogan is that it is a short phrase that is used to express an idea or concept. It's not a mere description of what you do. “Globo-chem: A chemical company” is not a slogan. (Or it's a really, really bad one.) A slogan doesn't just give you a one-time insight into what your brand is about. It's something that is used more than once so the line becomes associated with and becomes an important component of your brand. Many slogans are designed to be catchy so they are better remembered or persuasive so they inspire action, though they don't technically have to be either. If it's a marketing phrase that's associated with a brand...voila...you have a slogan.
Slogans and for that matter, taglines have certainly evolved over the years. Slogans have gone from mostly descriptive (Coca-Cola's first slogan was “the ideal brain tonic”) to lines than can truly take on a life of their own. The right slogan can carry an entire brand from obscurity to becoming globally recognized. A few words can help a company reinvent itself. It can obliterate the competition. It can make people think about anything from high stakes politics to bubble gum in a whole new way.
When Ford was having problems with the perception that their cars and trucks were inferior, they launched “Quality is Job 1.” When NBC wanted more viewers on Thursdays, they came up with the slogan “Must-See TV” to persuade viewers they had THE shows worth watching. Both worked.
Unlike a tagline that is often used as part of a promotional campaign for a limited time and/or in limited situations, a slogan can also stand alone as a phrase that represents a brand long-term.
Sometimes, the best slogans state an organization’s values and philosophy. Sometimes it can be quite blatant as in “Duty, Honor, Country” which is the motto of the United States Military Academy at West Point. This phrase is very basic but it is also highly effective because it expresses the organization’s basic values and philosophy.
On the other hand, slogans can be about an emotional appeal as in Apple’s famous “Think different.” The idea was to emphasize the company’s creativity and the potential creativity of its customers. It was also a statement of values, a philosophy summed up in just two words.
In many cases, slogans are used as rallying or battle cries. Nike's famous “Just Do It.” is a perfect example of this. Their slogan doesn't say “high quality shoes at fair prices” or even “for the love of sports.” Instead it's an idea. It says don't make excuses. Don't give a reason why you can't. Go out and do it. That philosophy struck a chord with so many athletes, weekend warriors, teenagers trying to excel in sports, moms trying to get back in shape and so many others. It was a slogan that defined the customers’ belief system...and that sold a lot of shoes!
Great political slogans do the same thing. From Ronald Reagan’s “It’s morning in America” to President Obama’s “Yes, We Can” both phrases inspired, made people feel optimistic and ultimately earned their candidate votes.
A slogan can also serve to simplify a complex concept so a large group of people can understand it. Some of the best slogans and taglines make you think about a single idea in a whole new way. Generally slogans are short and to the point. That is why catchy slogans are often very simplistic in nature. The idea is to avoid complexity because complexity leads to confusion, which is the opposite of communication. A good slogan maker knows this.
Slogans like the World War II phrase “loose lips sink ships” and President Truman's “The Buck Stops Here” slogans have helped shape history and become part of history as well. At Slogan Slingers, we're proud to be in the slogan making business, carrying on a proud tradition but making our own mark as well. Slogan Slingers is helping businesses of all time get some amazing slogans using a never before possible process. We're excited to be creating the world's next great slogans each and everyday.