January 24th, 2017

How meaningful is your business slogan?

business team sitting around a table brainstorming

Thinking of updating the copy on your website? Don’t forget your business slogan.

Business slogans: almost everyone has one, in some form or another. There’s a definite and obvious appeal to the perfect slogan, something that sticks in your brain and sums up your business in just a few words or a short sentence. Yet actually creating a meaningful business slogan is a lot harder than most companies expect.

Of course, Fortune 500 companies often have so many resources to throw at their latest slogans that they stick in your brain, regardless of their actual merit. (Seriously, “I’m loving it” applied to almost any other company would be a complete failure.) For the rest of us, however, crafting a memorable slogan takes a lot more effort. Here are a few questions to ask yourself if you’re trying to create or rework a business slogan for your website.

Can you apply it to basically anyone?

Ah, the generic business slogan. Empty phrases such as “The Best Service, Guaranteed” or “Experience you can depend on,” splattered across all your marketing collateral as if simply saying it made it true. Others are so vague, that when viewed out of context it’s hard to remember who they belong to, or even what industry they’re a part of.

By contrast, Energizer’s “It keeps going, and going and going” is not interchangeable with just any other company, and speaks directly to what customers most want from their batteries: a long lifespan. Similarly, M&M’s longest-lasting slogan was “Melts in your mouth, not in your hands,” a perfect value proposition which also triggers some highly tactile memories. It’s hard to hear without developing an instant craving for chocolate.

Does it mean something?

The only thing worse than utterly generic slogans are ones that mean absolutely nothing. #1 on my list is 3M’s single-word slogan, “Innovation.” Like, is that it?! Did they forget to write the rest or something? Hate to break it to you guys, but there’s nothing particularly innovative about taking the latest buzz word and slapping it next to your logo.

The cell phone world also provides an interesting case study in this department. Cingular Wireless, which later merged with AT&T has managed to bounce through a series of bland slogans in the past few years from “Your world. Delivered.” to “Rethink possible.” Not that they’ve all been bad. I’m a sucker for wordplay, and that often means puns. So for instance, back in 2004, Cingular Wireless used “Raising the Bar,” which gave me a chuckle due to the dual-significance of higher standards + better reception. I’ve also been a fan of Verizon’s cheeky “Can you hear me now?” slogan, which once again heads straight for the value proposition.

Is it true?

There’s something to be said about making bold claims, but it’s best to avoid ones that are obviously wrong or else just a lot of hot air. There’s nothing quite like seeing “The World’s Best XYZ Service” plastered across some slow, outdated website. You also run the risk of being remembered for exactly the opposite quality you’re trying to promote. Folger’s, for instance, has a slogan that I and almost anyone else I talk to can sing at the drop of a hat: “The best part of waking up is Folger’s in your cup.” Unfortunately, almost everyone I know will follow this with a joke about how Folger’s is definitely not the best part of waking up.

On the other hand, I personally love The New York Time’s slogan, “All the news that’s fit to print.” It’s not only specific to their service, it also makes a non-explicit quality promise to their readers. It’s appeared in the upper left hand corner of the front page ever since it was coined in the 1890’s—proof that you can’t improve upon perfection.

What’s most important to you and your customers?

Having the perfect business slogan won’t make or break your business, but it is an important and useful tool to establish your brand and help your customers remember what’s different and valuable about the service you offer. Ours at build/create is “design with purpose,” which contains a dual meaning that hits upon one of the driving forces behind our company.

“Design (noun) with purpose” means: function and form combined.

“Design (verb) with purpose” means: work with the end in mind.

So if you’ve decided your slogan needs an update, keep our tips in mind:

  • Make sure it’s specific to your business
  • Give it meaning
  • Don’t make claims you can’t back up
  • Focus on what matters

And if you’re looking for help updating your slogan and website copy, drop us a line. We can lend a hand.

Related Articles