The trick to great marketing slogans explained

When it comes to promoting a brand, product or service, most marketing consultants will tell you that little is quite as effective in so few words as a well-written slogan.

Slogans can appear in advertisements, on your promotional items or on your products themselves, and with this copy so ubiquitous and public, you need to ensure that it’s of top-notch quality.

Unfortunately, quality copywriting is a difficult skill, and even the best in the business have been known to get it wrong from time to time. Read our quick guide to quality copywriting to ensure that your written communication remains engaging and effective.

Be succinct

If you can’t say it quickly, you shouldn’t say it at all. Long-winded or imprecise slogans will never catch people’s attention, no matter what typeface you try to dress them up with. A good slogan should be quick, catchy and memorable; if you waffle on for too long, you’re liable to lose your audience completely.

Be aware

We’ve all heard horror stories of companies who, upon releasing a product in a foreign territory, find that their copywriters have made some appalling gaffe and alienated their entire audience in a heartbeat.

However, it’s not just in foreign countries that cultural awareness ought to be prioritised. In 2007, McDonalds ran an advertising campaign for their double cheeseburger with the caption ‘I’d hit it’ – clearly missing the overt sexual connotations of that phrase.

The ad bombed, presumably because the only unspeakable act most people wish to perform with a McDonalds’ burger is eat the thing. Even the experts can make a blunder from time to time; beware and be aware.

Captivate and communicate

Think of the best slogans you’ve ever heard – Timex’s ‘takes a licking and keeps on ticking’ or Nestle’s ‘have a break, have a Kit Kat’, for example. Catchy, aren’t they?

Their strength lies in the fact that they’re both memorable and informative. You could read Timex’s slogan and know immediately what the product is (a watch, ticking) and what its key selling point is (durability, takes a licking). With the Kit Kat slogan, the copy simultaneously makes the consumer think of indulging themselves (have a break) and also makes that indulgence synonymous with the product (you break the chocolate bar in half to separate the fingers).

The best slogans are the ones that catch your attention, stick in your mind and also extol the virtues of the product itself; this is the kind of copy you’ll see reprinted again and again on billboards, in magazines and on the TV.

Not everyone makes a great copywriter, and even if you do have the natural talent, you need experience to be able to avoid the sort of costly and embarrassing gaffes that McDonalds and others like them have succumb to in recent years.

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Ian is the founder of Opportunity Marketing marketing, with over 18 years of experience in successfully setting up marketing departments, creating marketing strategies and implementing these strategies across a wide number of SME companies in both the B2B and B2C sectors through a variety of channels.