When Rafael Nadal and Novak Djokovic played tennis at the O2 in November 2010, there was a pause while Novak had a contact lens attended to on court. Some wag in the crowd shouted: “Should’ve gone to Specsavers” — five words that have proved very effective for the company.

It’s harder to write something short than something long. So, in this article, I’ve analysed a range of slogans and suggest the reasons why they work (or don’t).

Positive emotions

People buy because of how you make them feel, not because of what you tell them. These examples all contain positive emotions:

– Terry’s Chocolate Orange: “Smash it to pieces. Love it to bits.”

– Recruitment agency: ‘Love Mondays.’ That’s just it. They don’t sell jobs. They sell happy Mondays.

– Head & Shoulders: ‘Making heads happier.’

Anthropomorphising is a commonly used technique (that is, giving human qualities to something).

NLP in slogans

In Neuro-Linguistic Programming (NLP) terms, people have a preference for Visual, Auditory or Kinaesthetic sensory inputs. That is to say, they like pictures, words or feelings.

– Canon: ‘Take more than pictures. Take stories.’ By combining a visual word ‘pictures‘ with an auditory word ‘stories‘, the slogan appeals to a wider audience.

– Lloyd Grossman sauces: ‘Sauces with a distinctive voice‘. It fits. And I like the fact that they have combined the sense of taste (a sauce) with the sense of hearing (voice).

Repetition in slogans

Repeat something three times, and maybe add a touch of innuendo. It sticks in the memory!

– Deep pan pizza: “Real deep. Real good. Real thing.”

– Martini: “Anytime, anyplace, anywhere.”

– Aldi: ‘Great food, great prices, pass it on‘. It has the benefit and a call to action. Like on Twitter, saying ‘Please Retweet‘ (or ‘Pls RT‘), it results in more people actually doing what you say.

Weasel words

You have to be careful about literal meaning:

– Anadin: “Nothing works faster.” So take nothing, because it works faster!

– ‘Renault build a better car’. Better than what?

Rubbish slogans?

And these examples don’t work for me at all!

– Dolland & Aitchison opticians: ‘We promise to treat you like a person, not a sausage.’ Assumes that other opticians treat people like a sausage factory while I’m not sure that they do, do they?

– Haulage van: ‘Customer driven.’ It’s clever, as it has meaning on more than one level. But it’s stupid, because the customer doesn’t drive the van. If it were on a self-drive vehicle, that would be a different story.

– Oasis Drinks: ‘Fruity drinks and lunchtime dreams.’ Just doesn’t make any sense!

What you want from your slogan

Magnum ice-cream: ‘World Pleasure Authority.’ This slogan was used with an on-pack promotion to give away £3m-worth of pre-paid Mastercards, so winners could buy whatever they like. That’s because Magnum don’t sell ice-cream, they sell pleasure. And what’s the usual response to pleasure? “Mmm, that’s nice.”

Similarly, I don’t sell marketing and copywriting services. I sell ‘Writing Without Waffle‘, to which the usual response is “Ooh, that’s useful“.

So what do you sell?

Is it something that people really, really want? Does it make them go “Mmm” and “Ooh“?

If not, perhaps you’d better change it!

I originally wrote this article for Fresh Business Thinking

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