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AdSlogans.com -- Wise Words/11

From
The Effective Echo -- a Dictionary of Advertising Slogans,

by Valerie Noble

comes

The Psychology of the Slogan

 

1970 Valerie Noble

Slogans and Memory

In the continuing mental process of sorting, storing and discarding, there is a tendency to reduce conceptual thought to its simplest form. Unless trained early in abstract thinking, the human mind works best in patterns. It continually searches for likenesses and relationships. No matter how long an impression or thought lies buried, patterned association will often trigger memory to full recall of long-stored items. Or, to put it another way, ideas and images do not start independently in the mind but, as links in a chain, there is one before and one following after. This partially explains the magical power of a metaphor and simile in joining like to unlike, familiar to unfamiliar. Strange combinations and associations are more likely to be remembered than the ordinary. The imagination never stops working. The constant process of reflection, association, rationalization and analyzation generalizes and abstracts, plans and

predicts, accepts and rejects, wanders and burrows.

As a result of this unique mental process, valid psychological use of language and writing is strongly related to that same organized phenomena. Or, stated in a slightly different framework: 'People respond no less to the stimulus that revives a concrete picture or memory than to words that rouse the emotions; no less to novelty than to repetition, rhyme, rhythm or old associations.' (Phyllis Robbins, An Approach to Composition Through Psychology)

The Importance of the Slogan

Thus, within the functions of memory, the slogan acts as a handle. It is a mnemonically structured device which is a conscious or unconscious effort to hook into the reader's subconscious. Used effectively, it can succeed as no other single element in advertising can. Committed to memory, that phrase can be an effective spur to brand loyalty. It is the only aspect of an advertisement which has the chance of becoming a contemporary figure of speech or part of everyday speech patterns. Its success, and the resultant realized dream of becoming a household word, is usually accomplished by repetition, regardless of correct grammar or even of questionable benefits or common sense. Beyond casual conversation, it will likely follow further trails into cartoons, editorial matter and, not infrequently, into parody.


Lucas and Britt (Advertising Psychology and Research) have noted: 'People sometimes pick up slogans or catch phrases from advertising purely for use in conversation. Later, they find themselves making important market choices on the basis of these same compelling words. Here, the slogan has done its job in merchandising the product as part of the overall plan.'

 

Corporate Poetry

The rhythmic aspect of writing and speech has a staying quality, the power of living on in the mind. Mario Pei has written (The Story of Language) that: 'The language of poetry frequently reflects a syntactical freedom which the colloquial tongue has relinquished. Poetic license may also be viewed as a modern extension of archaic conditions, when the abundance of flexional endings permitted a greater range in word-order.'

In the pre-analytical days of the late 19th century, those poets laureate of early advertising somehow capitalized on the knowledge that through rhymes they could create a solid product awareness. The advertising sloganman took advantage of the fact that poetry is easily remembered and related to other subjects - in this instance, products to be sold. He profited from the appeal of imagery which readily kindled the imagination.


The effective slogan with its musical structure was used and is used to build or create an image in the mind. To this day, advertising writers are encouraged to follow the long-standing tradition of utilizing a rhyming scheme., Sloganeers are still advised to create a phrase which will rhyme with the brand or company name - an idea which might be termed corporate poetry.

 

Memory Methods

The following phrases illustrate the debt of advertising slogans to memory association, rhythm, poetry and music.

ALLITERATION Two or more syllable sounds, sound groups or letters at the beginning of words in a phrase, as:
o Portable Power for Progress
o Sell Simpson and Be Sure

METAPHOR To suggest a resemblance, a term is applied which is not literally applicable, as:
o A Rainbow of Distinctive Flavors
o The Money Truck

SIMILE To express a resemblance of one thing to another, using "like" or "as if", as:
o Sleeping on a Seely Is Like Sleeping on a Cloud

ALLUSION Link to a literary character or situation or to a proverb or topical saying, as:
o The Strength of Gibraltar
o Don't Be a Pale Face

HYPERBOLE Extravagant statement not intended to be understood literally, as:
o The One Man Gang


CHIASMUS Inversion in the second of two parallel clauses or phrases of the structure of the first, as:
o Sells Hard Wherever Hardware Sells
o At Last a Perfume That Lasts

ANALOGY Comparison of similarities in two things:
o Our Work is Child's Play
o A Diamond Is Forever

PERSONIFICATION Abstract ideas of lifeless objects named as person, as
o The Grass People
o Garrett Is Experience

TRANSFERRED EPHITHET Abnormal use of adjective with noun, as:
o Sail a Happy Ship
o Fly the Friendly Skies of United

PUN Play on words, as:
o The Sound Approach to Quality (hi-fi)
o When It Rains, It Pours (salt)
o Best Glue in the Joint

The Effective Echo

The remembered slogan will have a cadence to it - a lilt, if judiciously handled, which borders on the poetic. It can generate a rhythmic echo which is much harder to forget than the ordinary statement. A brief string of words can, through repetition be the magic linking of words to emotion. These little phrases which wheedle, cajole, brag, promise, guarantee, gild or stultify are all a direct appeal to the emotions and, ideally, to action.

The history of advertising is, briefly, a movement from slogans to jingles to copy. Advertising jingles went slogans one better and selling text replaced the poetry in the evolution from simplicity to complexity. Do slogans change with the times? Do they reflect a buyer's or a seller's market? Are they symptomatic of hard sell and soft sell?

They may well reflect the times - the more affluence, the less rigorous but more sophisticated the selling effort. Although their effective use has declined in recent years, we may well be witnessing a resurgence of slogan usage. A good phrase, used as a primary advertising tool, can create both success and profit. Such a resurgence would mirror the continuing need to identify the particular product or service above all other competitors. In a time of increasing impersonalization, the brief and human phrase is still able to creep into the mind and stay. It is, indeed, The Effective Echo.

 



AdSlogans.com -- Wise Words/11

 

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