The Art and Science of the Advertising Slogan
by Timothy R. V. Foster

Art and Science Menu
A Slogan SHOULD:
1. Be memorable
2. Recall the brand name
3. Include a key benefit
4. Differentiate the brand
5. Impart positive feelings for the brand
6. Reflect the brand's personality
7. Be strategic
8. Be campaignable
9. Be competitive
10. Be original
11. Be simple
12. Be neat
13. Be believable
14. Help in ordering the brand
A Slogan Should NOT:
15. Be in current use by others
16. Be bland, generic or hackneyed
17. Prompt a sarcastic or negative response
18. Be pretentious
19. Be negative
20. Be corporate waffle
21. Make you say "So what?" or "Ho-hum"
22. Make you say "Oh yeah??"
23. Be meaningless
24. Be complicated or clumsy
And Finally...
25. You should like it 
26. Trends in slogans
Related Links
Slogan Nomenclature

PDF version of this article suitable for printing
(requires AdobeAcrobat)


2. A slogan should recall the brand name

Ideally the brand name should be included in the line. 'My goodness, my Guinness!' thus works, as does 'Aah, Bisto!'. On the other hand, 'Once driven, forever smitten' does not easily invoke the word Vauxhall, nor does 'All it leaves behind is other non-bios' scream out Fairy Ultra. This, by the way, is possibly the worst endline in the history of advertising! It certainly gets my vote. It's a brand manager at P&G speaking to a brand manager at the competition and it means it doesn't leave a nasty residue in the wash -- the laundry equivalent of 'no bathtub ring'. No 'housewife' could possibly understand it.

What's the point of running an advertisement in which the brand name is not clear? Yet millions of pounds are wasted in this way. If the brand name isn't in the strapline, it had better be firmly suggested. Nike dares to run commercials that sign off only with their visual logo -- the 'swoosh' -- like a tick mark or check mark, as the Americans say. The word Nike is unspoken and does not appear. This use of semiotics is immensely powerful when it works, because it forces the viewer to say the brand name.

Rhymes - with brand name

One of the best techniques for bringing in the brand name is to make the strapline rhyme with it. Here are some lines we've selected from the database. See how well it works if the brand name is the rhyming word.

City Link:

City Linking, smart thinking.

Granada: Ads work harder in the new Granada.
Haig Scotch: Don't be vague. Ask for Haig.
Kia-Ora: We all adore a Kia-Ora.
Natwest Bank: To save and invest, talk to Natwest.
Nicotinell: It needn't be hell with Nicotinell.
Quavers: The flavour of a Quaver is never known to waver.
Radio Rentals: Stay contented, get Radio Rented.
Teletext: Don't get vexed. Ask Teletext.
Thomas Cook: Don't just book it, Thomas Cook it.

Rhymes - brand name mention

A fall-back position is to use a rhyme and mention the brand name without it actually rhyming. Not so effective, perhaps?
Mars: A Mars a day helps you work, rest and play.
Viakal: It's the Viakal fizz that does the bizz! (1992)
Andrews Antacid: It's the Andrews fizz that does the bizz. (1996)
Milk: Milk's gotta lotta bottle.
Oraldene: Soothe it away the Oraldene way.
Flanders, Belgium: Savour the flavour of Belgium.

Note how the competitive edge is lost when the brand name is not the rhyme. It could easily be 'An apple a day helps you work, rest and play,' or 'Savour the flavour of a Quaver'. But the idea of 'To save and invest, talk to Alliance and Leicester' does not threaten NatWest. A&L in fact uses: 'You get a smarter investor at the Alliance & Leicester,' which in turn wouldn't work as: 'You get a smarter investor at Barclays.'

E-Mail: Phone: +44 (0)208 668 8888
Basic Talk Ltd trading as AdSlogans © 2006-2007