Elements of an effective slogan

By Axis Marketing

Times Square

A recent article in the Guardian pitches a formula for an effective charity slogan: “Unique + ruthless = unforgettable.”

It’s an equation that many experts are getting behind, for the simple reason that being brave and bold makes you stand out, while being safe makes you blend in with countless other causes.

“You want to trigger that place in people’s hearts where they think, “Oh wow, I really can’t not do something about this. I have to help because I care so much about it,” Jen Shang, a philanthropic psychologist told the Guardian. “Whatever word or language is being used is a mechanism to connect whatever people see on the advert and their own urge to do good.”

Another expert referenced in the article said it’s important to remember who your audience is. He said the phrase “Can you help us to help the starving refugees?” makes the charity the middle man between the refugees and the donors, which isn’t effective.

Rather, “Can you feed starving refugees?” ties the action of giving directly to them.

Hence the slogan: idiosyncratic + ruthless = unforgettable. It comes from John Spencer, who explained, “The organization’s slogan has to be so characteristically them that it couldn’t be mistaken for anyone else.”

Also consider that in order to be effective, a tagline must be customer-centric, and give off an air of positivity.

Take a look at the top ranked ad campaigns of 1999, according to Advertising Age:

  1. Marlboro: The Marlboro cowboy.

  2. Nike: Just do it.

  3. DeBeers: A diamond is forever.

  4. U.S. Forest Service: Smokey the Bear.

  5. Energizer: The Energizer Bunny.

  6. Morton’s Salt: When it rains, it pours.

  7. Wheaties: Breakfast of Champions.

  8. Hallmark: When you care enough to send the very best.

  9. California Milk Processors: Got Milk?

  10. BMW: The ultimate driving machine.

  11. Motel 6: We’ll leave a light on for you.

And how many are still being used as of last year? All eleven of them.

The challenge in the digital age is in keeping a slogan alive and consistent. Remember that a tagline should be more than just memorable – include the benefit that sets your organization apart.

Tags: Manufacturing, Nonprofit, Sports & Recreation, Construction, Contractors & Real Estate, Retail & Hospitality, Life Sciences & Technology, Professional & Financial Services, Agribusiness, Energy, Resources & Renewables

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