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The Good, Bad and Ugly of Company Slogans

By Mira Brody - Last Updated on 07/31/2017
Business slogan tips.

Not every business has a slogan, but if you’re one that does, you’ll understand that they are a huge part of your branding and overall marketing strategy. A good slogan will engage customers and promote a company, while a poorly-executed one can destroy credibility.
Although there is no concrete formula, here are a few qualities that have built successful slogans in the past.

Memorability — To be effective, a company slogan needs to be memorable. A classic is the “Got Milk?” campaign by the California Milk Processor Board, made famous by the 1993 “Who Shot Alexander Hamilton?” commercial. To this day, the phrase “Got ___?” is used as homage to that original campaign.

Show your company’s mission — A slogan should exemplify the company’s mission, what they believe in and what they can provide their consumers. This rings true with Disneyland’s motto: “The happiest place on earth.”

Why you’re better — Some successful slogans simply communicate to their customers why they should prefer their brand over competition. Kellogg’s Tony the Tiger asserts why you should eat Frosted Flakes with his catchphrase, “They’re G-r-r-r-eat!” while the Las Vegas tourism department entices visitors with “What happens here, stays here.”

Remember your product — Too many bad slogans are disconnected from the item they are selling. In 1992 the National Livestock and Meat Board launched “Beef. It’s what’s for dinner,” a slogan that clearly states the product being marketed and continues to resonate in Robert Mitchum’s voice.

Brevity — You’ll notice none of the examples above are more than five words. Although there is no official rule, shorter is better: try keeping it under 8 words.
Just as a good slogan can boost your brand and remain relevant for decades, a bad one can ruin your brand. Here are a few things a slogan should not be —

Too vague — Using indefinite pronouns such as “better,” or “the best,” is unhelpful to customers and will make your brand sound too vague. A failed Mercedes slogan which read, "The best or nothing," left people confused as did a similar campaign by ADIDAS’ — “Impossible is nothing.”

What’s in it for them? — Your consumers will want to know what the benefits of your product are. Tagline such as Delta Airlines’ “We’ll get you there,” and Ford’s “Drive one” fell on deaf ears simply because there was nothing in it for the customer.

Dishonesty — Campbell’s Soup tried the slogan “Soup is good food” back in 1980, only to get a slap on the wrist by the FDA due to their products’ high sodium content. They reacted by switching back to “Mmm! Mmm! Good!”

Don’t fix what isn’t broken — Maxwell Coffee changed “Good to the last drop,” their slogan since 1915, to “Better beans make better coffee.” Customers weren’t keen on the change and Maxwell eventually switched back. The same thing happened to Burger King when they swapped their infamous “Have it your way” with “Be your way.”
Sometimes, slogans are memorable, but not great…these can fall under what we call the “ugly” category. A few examples:

“What can brown do for you?” — UPS’ unintentional bathroom humor.
“The more you play with it, the harder it gets.” — Who new SEGA was so NSFW?
“I shoot people and pets.” — Ill-phrased photography company.
“Why not enjoy the go?” — Charmin. At least their product belongs in the bathroom.
“Lovin’ beats hatin’.” — The read-headed stepchild of MacDonalds’ original “I’m lovin’ it.”

Your business’s tagline or slogan should be a short, memorable phrase you use regularly for advertising and branding. Taglines have been proven an effective means at drawing attention to the benefits of your product and services. If you feel your slogan — or any aspect of your branding — is outdated, not working for you, or are in need of establishing a new one all together, give us a call! Our team would love to help your business utilize the power of effective and professional branding.

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About Mira Brody

Mira Brody is an editor, writer, and marketing expert with 12+ years of experience. She has worked as a local news reporter, a writer/editor, and as a leader in large-scale branding strategy. Mira worked at JTech as the staff writer and editor for internal and client projects from March 2015 to December 2019.