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Is a Slogan Necessary for Your Business?

Do slogans actually work? Is a business slogan really necessary?

Consider these catchy slogan examples:

"Just Do It," the slogan of the world's biggest seller of footwear, Nike.

"Let's Go Places," is the catchphrase for Toyota, the maker of the world's most popular car, the Corolla.

"Where Dreams Come True," explaining how Disney theme parks transform wishes into realities.

"You Are Why We Fly," for American Airlines, one of the largest air carriers on the planet.

Chances are that, if you thought about slogans for a few minutes, you could come up with a dozen more examples of catchy slogans for products you use every day in just a few words.

A good slogan isn't just an important advertising tool for the biggest names in the corporate world. If you are an entrepreneur at any level, you will find that a memorable slogan is a great way to create your brand as you get your business online. But what is a slogan, anyway?

What is a slogan?

Imagine that you could rent real estate in your customer's brain. Every time a product is mentioned, they think about buying it from you.

In a slogan, words change meanings. Most of us communicate with at least a few people during the course of a day. We listen to people, and we say things to people, but, at least for most of us, not a lot of what we hear stays fresh in our minds.

For example, when you hear the expression "I'm lovin' it," however, you may experience a strange, sudden urge to go out and get a burger. That's because "I'm lovin' it" is the well-known and oft-repeated slogan for McDonald's, at least in English-language markets in the United States.

An overwhelming majority of consumers have been exposed to McDonald's catchy slogan hundreds of times while watching television. When you hear the phrase, that tiny corner of your mind that McDonald's has taken over immediately reminds you of the fast food chain.

This emotional response that brings a product or service to the customer's mind is a fundamental component to what makes it a successful slogan.

A great slogan makes thinking about a brand automatic

A dictionary definition of a slogan might be: "A memorable phrase describing a product, a purpose, an idea, or a claim." That sounds simple enough, but the truth is that creating successful and descriptive slogans is not easy.

In the same way your handwritten signature needs to be unique, the slogan you create for your business needs to become your site's signature that your customers will remember even when they are not at their computers.

What's the difference between a slogan and a tagline?

Slogans and taglines are very similar. Both taglines and slogans are short and send a strong message. Both taglines and slogans contribute to brand identity.

The difference between a tagline and a slogan is that taglines are more permanently part of your brand, while slogans may be attached to a single ad campaign.

However, when a great slogan works for you, there is no reason to retire it. You don't need to be creating new slogans just because your business has been using the same phrase for months, years, or even decades if your audience is still connecting with it.

Do you need a slogan for your small business?

The short answer to the question of whether small businesses need a slogan is Yes!

A slogan makes your advertising message to your audience clear. It builds brand identity, which you can use to increase brand recognition. Slogans can make a measurable difference in your sales and in your bottom line.

Let's look at the benefits of an effective slogan in more detail.

Makes your message clear

Slogans aren't explanations. They are short and simple statements that just about anybody can remember. They reach customers at every level of education and every level of language proficiency with a simple message that conveys the feel of the company.

Brands can have more than one slogan.

Nike, for example, has used the slogan "Just do it" for over 30 years in its marketing and ads. But they have also created ad campaigns around the slogans "Find Your Greatness," "Dream Crazy," and "I Believe.” These famously successful slogans and others like them communicate the feeling the company wants you to associate with their products.

Brands and businesses can use catchy slogans as part of a marketing strategy to promote their entire business or just a certain product launch.

A great slogan makes you feel the way the company wants you to feel.

Brand identity

A good slogan sets you apart from other businesses that sell the same products.

Consider the slogans of insurance competitors State Farm and Allstate. In its ads, State Farm emphasizes familiarity and proximity, "Like a good neighbor, State Farm is there." Allstate's slogan "Are you in good hands?" reminds customers of security and safety.

Both of these giant insurance companies have become memorable because of their ability to connect with the deep emotional needs of their customers in one sentence.

You can get the same feeling from the rest of their advertising, too, but their slogans boil down all of their advertising efforts into a single statement you can easily remember. Successful branding helps differentiate your business from its competitors.

Brand recognition

Together with your logo, your business slogan is a key part of your branding that makes your product or service recognizable.

The best slogans will make everything about your products a welcome advertisement, reminding your customers of the good experiences they have had with your products and your service. Over a period of several years, your slogan and your brand consistency will automatically draw attention to every ad you place.

How do you create a slogan?

Now, let's put these rules together with some highly recognizable business style guide examples for operationalizing the best slogan ideas.

Remind customers why they value your products

It's true that some big companies have had success with slogans that are basically commands, like Nike's "Just Do It." But you aren't Nike. You need to give your customers a reason to remember your brand.

For instance, if you operate Acme File Folders, your slogan could be "We Know File Folders." Nike's slogan is something people remember in many different kinds of situations. But Acme File Folders will come to mind when their customers need file folders.

Communicate the ideas the rest of your advertising doesn’t cover

One way to look at slogans is as the glue that holds your brand together. Good slogans will communicate some quality of your products that underlies everything you do, whether it's taking care to provide the highest quality, being extremely knowledgeable and experienced with your product line, or simply treating customers with courtesy, honesty, and respect.

An example of this kind of slogan? "You're In Good Hands," again from Allstate.

Have a slogan people can associate with daily

Consider the slogan for Kit Kat candy bars. People take breaks. Kit Kat wants their customers to eat their candy bars when they take a break. Accordingly, their slogan is "Have a break, have a Kit Kat bar." The company has built ad campaigns around its breakable candy bar, including "Breaks are good, have one" and "Break time, anytime." But "Have a break, have a Kit Kat bar" is recognized throughout the English-speaking world.

Let's summarize from slogan best practices:

Slogan best practices
  • Keep it simple. Shorter slogans are catchy. Here's an example. KFC's "Finger Lickin' Good."
  • Make it memorable. Don't be afraid to create a longer slogan if it's memorable. A good example of this principle is, "There are some things that money can't buy. But for everything else, there is Mastercard."
  • Be creative. We all remember unusual slogans, both good and bad. Your goal is to create a motivating slogan that is creative enough that your customers remember it.
  • Don't be offensive. "Go Cottonelle, go commando" turned out to be too much information for consumers of toilet paper. An offensive slogan or tagline will force you to overcome obstacles you might have avoided.
  • Be relevant. You want it to be as relevant as possible to as many people as possible. But don't assume that what's relevant to you is relevant to the public you are trying to reach. For instance, accounting firm Grant Thornton's slogan "A passion for accounting" no doubt captured their dedication to their profession, but it didn't capture the imagination of its target audience and potential customers.
  • Make sure your customers can associate your slogan with something they do every day. With catchy phrases, potential customers will think of your brand and your products every time they do the thing you mention in your slogan.

As a general rule, be very careful.

Slogans for business promotion can come and go, but logos are more or less permanent. You need to pair your logo with a slogan, or just use it by itself. Both your logo and the slogan you use with it need to be timeless.

Any slogan you use with your logo needs to be short. A customer needs to be able to read the logo and recognize the logo in the same glance.

A great logo identifies your brand, Your slogan differentiates it from your competitors.

Keep in mind that your slogan appears in advertising, but your logo usually appears on the product itself.

Choose a slogan that works for you

Finding the right slogan to build your brand takes time—and analytics to confirm you have found the winning slogan for your products and your company.

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