Let’s talk about slogans today. ‘Keep it simple, stupid’ or KISS is a popular design principle coined by the US Navy. It was a way of looking at design problems with a simple approach instead of thinking up complicated solutions.
It’s a popular one around our team, too. We literally have it sketched on our wall. Why is it there? To act like a compass, or a mantra. When things seem complicated and overwhelming, when we are working on a project that seems out of our scope, it’s a phrase that we can look at, and come home to, in a way.
Slogans for brands perform a similar role.
They are brand war cries. Short, meaningful phrases that carry a brand’s vision, value, and promise. This is who we are; this is what you’ll get with us. Kind of like house words in the Game of Thrones books. Winter is coming. Ours is the fury. Fire and blood.
They tell you the philosophy behind each great House and the mentality with which they approach life.
Similar to those epic, fantastical houses, our very-real brands also have house words. Just do it. Because you’re worth it. Think different.
A Slogan Needs Time To Brew
As anyone who has ever tried to simplify anything would tell you, keeping it simple isn’t always that easy. Being succinct is hard work, and comes with practice.
Yet it says oodles about how well someone understands what they are saying.
Slogans, or brand taglines, in the same vein, are not easy to come up with. The best ones are short, and when done right, become part of our culture, language, literature, cognition, and even unconscious associations.
Take ‘Think Different’ by Apple. It became an instant success when it was first released. But on its own, without the brand’s insatiable innovation, it would not have gained the global adulation it receives to this day. The more innovative Apple becomes, the more sophisticated, the more pioneering, the more challenging to the status-quo, the more meaning its slogan gathers.
Like fine wine, a good slogan becomes great only over time.
But it has to start somewhere, right? How do inspirational slogans come into being? Who thinks them up? Is there a crazy secret formula that only these multi-billion-dollar companies have access to?
Coming up with a meaningful and memorable slogan requires just hard work. A bit of soul searching, definitely, but no dancing around a burning pyre and giving blood sacrifices. (I know, disappointing.)
How To Create An Interesting Slogan?
Here are 7 god-honest steps to creating a great slogan that becomes a personal brand war cry.
1. Vision + values + mission
Don’t be gimmicky. Even if it works, it won’t last long because it doesn’t say anything of significance about your brand. Keep your vision, mission, and values in your mind when you try to think of words that best represent your core idea.
Lead with what you’re really about and the rest would come naturally.
2. Short and memorable
Human beings are wired to prefer simplicity over chaos. Our brain is good at remembering bits and pieces. A slogan draws its power by being meaningful but we remember it because it’s short and simple. Because it sticks in our minds.
When you write slogans, 3-4 words are ideal. Only go for a longer slogan if anything shorter would be a disservice to the brand.
3. Tell your story
Choose a slogan that not only tells your brand story but one that your audience responds to as well. Think of it as a bridge that you are going to use to connect to your customers and their stories. When the two align, that’s when the magic happens.
4. Simple but impactful
We keep talking about simple slogans and short slogans, but let not it come at the cost of substance and meaning. Sure, if it’s short and catchy it’ll stick in the brain. But it will only bring worth to your brand if it carries meaning that’s powerful and impactful.
5. Something inspirational
Mastercard had an award-winning marketing campaign in 1997. It is now known as the Priceless campaign but this was its actual slogan:
There are things money can’t buy. For everything else there’s Mastercard.
Mastercard’s inspirational ad campaign went viral long before people knew what viral meant. It ran in 98 countries in 46 languages and to date is one of the most impactful campaigns by any brand. It once again showed everyone the power of inspirational, meaningful marketing.
If you are looking for brand words that catapult you into global domination, start with something positive, something expressive.
6. A standalone phrase
The slogan you choose needs to be a coherent sentence, telling a complete story. It needs to make sense even when it doesn’t accompany the brand. Taglines such as Just do It or I’m Lovin’ It are some examples of it. With their brands, they carry a certain meaning, but even without them, it’s easy to understand the significance of the words.
7. Consistent with the brand
Your slogan must speak in your brand voice. Nike’s ‘Just do it’ feels so forceful and at the ready because of the passionate athleticism the brand represents. ‘Finger lickin’ good’ of KFC also feels attuned to the brand because it alludes to the notion of a chicken so yummy and greasy that it makes us lick our fingers afterwards.
All the good slogans carry this quality. If you want yours in the same league, make sure its voice remains authentic to the brand.