Slogan hall of fame: History’s most effective slogans (and why they worked!)

Published July 1, 2019
Author: Elora Griswold, special to Maine Creative

Maybe you’ve never thought of creating one before. Or maybe you’ve struggled to come up with the perfect one but couldn’t just do it (cue the knowing wink).

Some things are easier said than done, and creating an effective slogan for your business is no exception. Finding that perfect balance between too much detail and too vague can be a tricky dance to navigate. Although you want your slogan to be a representation of your brand and have specific details, it is important to remember that a slogan is simply a repeatable snapshot of your brand–like the word-of-mouth version of a logo. Memorable, eye-catching, but not too cluttered.

But how do you strike this balance? 

As outlined in a recent article by HowStuffWorks, these are the top four most important steps to creating an ear-catching slogan: 

These four tidbits of advice are great, but they do little to help you in crafting a slogan that incorporates all of these elements. After helping to craft many professional slogans, we’ve has compiled a short list of copy writing tactics to fill in the gap:

  1. Use simple language so the reader gets it. 

One pattern you’ll notice in the list of slogans below is their simplicity. The reader never has to think longer than a few seconds to get the phrase, which helps in creating a memorable slogan. Simple slogans stick around. Save include elements conducive to social media, web, and email campaigns. But the key is to keep it simple.

EXAMPLES:

  • U.S Postal Service: We deliver.
  • Disney Land: The happiest place on earth.
  • Coca Cola: Open happiness.

        2. Use humor when you can 

Although this admittedly doesn’t fit every brand, it can be an effective way to get your audience engaged and have your slogan repeated. Often times the best way to do this is to use colloquial language that would not usually be associated with a business. This shows the customer that your brand is not a cold corporation but rather has a healthy dose of humanity, which can help in guiding customers to your business over others. Just as there is an appeal to shopping local due to personable service, there is also an appeal to associate with companies that show more than their serious side.

EXAMPLES:

  • Crest Toothpaste: Look, Ma, no cavities!
  • Fiat Strada: Hand built by robots.
  • Campbell’s Soup: M’m! M’m! Good!

         3. Be clever

If you feel as though humor is not best suited to your business, you can incorporate a clever play on language with your brand. Ways to achieve this can include using words that sound like the name of your business, asking direct questions to the reader, and creating puns based on the service or product you are offering.

EXAMPLES:

  • Yellow Pages:  Let your fingers do the walking.
  • Citibank: The Citi never sleeps.
  • MasterCard: There are some things money can’t buy, for everything else there’s MasterCard.

4. Associate positive feelings with your brand. 

A simple way to execute this task is to first think of the positive feeling you’d like associated with your business. Common choices used in marketing include freedom, happiness, and success. When you read through the examples below, notice how the companies simply associate the action of using their brand/product with the feeling detailed or implied in the slogan.

EXAMPLES:

  • McDonald’s: You Deserve a Break Today. (Happiness)
  • Adidas: Impossible is nothing. (Success)
  • Burger King: Have it your way. (Freedom)

Now that you have a general understanding of what makes a slogan effective and how to begin implementing those elements, we’d like to provide some inspiration by walking through history’s top ten most compelling slogans. 

10. Wheaties – The Breakfast of Champions

There are a few reasons this slogan earned the 10th place on our list. Not only was General Mills able to associate the feeling of success with their brand through implying champions eat their cereal, but they were also able to add the word breakfast so people know what the product might be without visuals. The company then started a media campaign in line with their clever slogan featuring the likes of Michael Jordan, Michael Phelps, Kevin Irving, and many more renowned champions supporting their brand and fulfilling their slogan’s promise.

9. Airbnb – Belong Anywhere

Although Airbnb only began in 2008, it has become one of the premier housing options for travelers. Perhaps part of their success can be attributed to their clever slogan, which incorporates many of the elements we listed above. It utilizes simple language and associates feelings of freedom and happiness with their brand. Their slogan invites customers to feel the freedom of being able to travel anywhere, and the ability to belong inspires feelings of happiness. Additionally, the clean and simplified language assures that customers will easily remember the slogan.

8. Kay Jewelers – Every kiss begins with Kay

This slogan proves particularly clever as it has found a simple way to associate love with its brand, and therefore resonates with a large base of customers. Notice the hidden elements that make this phrase so catchy… specifically the alliteration of ‘kiss’ and ‘kay’ when spoken together. By claiming that every kiss begins with Kay, it creatively implies that a truly romantic gift would only be sufficient if purchased from Kay Jewelers.

7. Skittles: Taste the Rainbow

Ever wonder how a rainbow tastes? We have a feeling it has a more air-like texture than granulated sugar. However, the genius marketing team at Mars has convinced the world that their candy tastes like a rainbow would feel: fun, young, and colorful. Although the slogan is a mere three words, it packs in so many emotions through the symbolic use of the rainbow image. Its condense length ensures memorability, and it’s vibrant messaging is on the ball in representing all Mars would like to be associated with.

6. National Milk Producers Board – Got Milk?

Let’s start by analyzing this picture. Here we see a young girl with a full glass of milk, and a young boy with no milk. Notice that the girl seems to maintain a confident if not slightly condescending look at the physically smaller boy. Meanwhile, the boy shows a sheer look of dismay and hopelessness over his lack of milk, thinking, “If I had milk, I would be stronger and just as capable as this girl next to me.” In comes the brilliance of this slogan: whatever the task–as big as the Olympics and as trivial as having to be stronger than a girl–can be solved when you’ve ‘got milk’. The flexibility of this direct question makes it a winner.

5. M&Ms- Melts in your mouth not in your hand

According to Mars history, this slogan was inspired by experiences of its very own founder and inventor of M&M’s–Forrest Mars himself. During his time serving in the Spanish Civil War, he noticed British soldiers would eat Smarties to give themselves an immediate boost of energy when going into battle. Being a bigger fan of chocolate, Mars sought to create a chocolate candy that would not melt in the sun and serve the same purpose. Of course, he created the candy after returning from the war, but it is fascinating that this great slogan originated not from a table full of marketers but rather on the battlefield. The slogan does two things well: a) It emphasizes the delicious taste of their own product, and b) highlights what makes their product unique and superior over other chocolates.

4. State Farm- Like a good neighbor, State Farm is there

The use of a simile in State Farm’s slogan cleverly ensures that kindness and care will be associated with their brand. In that often lacks personable care but is centered around it, State Farm cleverly addresses the issue and offers itself as the solution. Another notable feature that makes this slogan unique is the way it is set to music in different advertisement campaigns. Almost like a condensed jingle, State Farm has crafted a slogan so memorable it can be stuck in our heads for days.

3. McDonald’s- I’m lovin’ it

The ‘bandwagon effect’ is a common term in psychology to describe the innate human desire to be considered part of the group and to feel a sense of belonging. While we would like to believe McDonald’s slogan is harmless as it sounds, the tapping into the human mind is what makes this phrase so compelling and usable. It almost seems to ask a taunting question: I’m lovin’ it, why aren’t you yet? Subliminal messaging is key to an effective slogan, and it is clear McDonald’s got the hint.

2. Maybelline: Maybe she’s born with it. Maybe it’s Maybelline.

The key to understanding why this slogan is so effective is by analyzing the hidden implication within the phrase. Although a lucky few are born with jaw-dropping beauty by industry standards, Maybelline suggests that anyone can join the ranks by using their products. By making an unachievable standard of beauty seem achievable, it encourages a dependence in their customers and keeps them returning for more. Also, notice the highlighted ‘maybe’ from ‘maybelline’– showcasing another clever way to ensure an association with their brand.

1. Nike – Just do it

This famous slogan takes first place on Maine Creative’s list for good reason–in just three words Nike is able to obtain a deeply personal connection with the reader. The phrase immediately prompts the reader to picture their greatest personal struggle and challenges them to tackle their goals, evoking an inspiring and positive brand association. At the same time, the slogan offers a level of security as it’s suggesting that with Nike you can ‘just do it’. This combination does wonders in brand loyalty and may explain why many choose Nike over the thousands upon thousands of (cheaper!) workout clothing brands available on the market. The phrase is condensed enough to be memorable and can be read in a soft or bold tone depending on the discretion and desire of the reader.

Elora Griswold is a digital media specialist at Maine Creative who focuses on creating effective copy and compelling imagery for marketing campaigns. If you would like help creating an excellent marketing plan, look no further than Maine Creative. Request a free consultation today.

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