How to choose a corporate slogan

Love em or hate em, theres no getting away from corporate slogans. Theyre about connecting people and because you’re worth it, and that know how is just what the doctor ordered.

You may have known that the first three belong to Nokia , LOreal, and Canon. The last, proving that corporate slogans dont always last forever, was from a well-known cigarette manufacturer.

Theyre ubiquitous across all advertising media, constantly demanding our attention, and all intended to project a sense of corporate identity and brand value.

Some of course are better than others, and the very best have become phrases in their own right, outgrowing the brand they were advertising. For examplethe customer is always right“was a slogan for retailer Selfridges at the start of the 20th century; diamonds are forever was usedby the De Beers mining company in the 1940s.

In other words, corporate slogans must be memorable and say, or infer, something about the company or its products. That means having a clear idea of what the company stands for and how customers see the brand.

Developing a corporate slogan neednt be a difficult process, and nor should it just be for larger companies. At their very best, slogans can help to differentiate a company personalising it in a way that resonates with customers.

Nor need it involve huge advertising budgets. A corporate slogan can simply be carried on stationary, signage, or on corporate uniforms or name-badges a daily reminder to staff, customers and suppliers what the company is about.

They can be aspirational, fun or mysterious, depending on the brand. For example, anytime, anyplace, anywhere the iconic slogan of the 1970s Martini adverts brought to mind a world of jet-set sophistication.

Some slogans are gender or demographic specific. Calvin Kleins slogan for one of its perfume brands, between love and madness lies obsession, doesnt do anything for me but maybe Im not the target market.

Slogans are meant to concisely distil the essence of a brand, subliminally linking it with the big idea behind it a kind of micro mission statement.

Its where some slogans for example, its the real thing (Coca-Cola) or dont just book it, Thomas Cook it (Thomas Cook) are on the money. Once in the public domain, they set out a brand proposition that competitors simply can’t copy.

Some slogans are dreamed up to only last for a single marketing campaign. Some last for years. Others fade away as times change.

For example, Fords quality is job one became irrelevant as technology and changing build practices allowed all car manufacturers to offer quality. Likewise, for digestions sake, smoke Camels, didnt stand up to medical scrutiny for very long.

Here are some of the better slogans (although you might disagree):

  • Mazda Zoom, zoom
  • Carlsberg Probably the best lager in the world
  • McDonalds Im lovin it
  • Gillette The best a man can get
  • Apple Think different
  • BMW The ultimate driving machine
  • Audi Vorsprung durch technik
  • New York Times All the news thats fit to print
  • Amex Dont leave home without it
  • Skittles Taste the rainbow
  • Avis We try harder
  • Honda The power of dreams
Developing a corporate slogan begins with thinking through what your company stands for, the brand promise you’re selling, and how customers would describe it. It should also examine competitor slogans, if they have one. (You have to define and occupy a differentiated position in the market).

But beware using your fantastic corporate slogan in different languages. It might have consequences that you didnt anticipate.

For example, Scandinavian vacuum cleaner Electrolux ran a marketing campaign in the USA under the snappy slogan, Nothing sucks like an Electrolux.

Best of all was the US chicken supplier that traded under the slogan it takes a strong man to make a tender chicken. This was translated into Spanish for a marketing campaign, where it became: It takes an aroused man to make a chicken affectionate.

Probably not the best corporate slogan in the world but, there again, it was memorable the first rule of any successful marketing campaign.

Charlie Laidlaw is a director of David Gray PR and a partner in Laidlaw Westmacott

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