5 Tips on How to Write a Killer Slogan (with Interactive Examples)

By WebdesignerDepot Staff Posted Sep. 01, 2009 Reading time: 7 minutes

Slogans are memorable phrases often used in conjunction with company logos and in advertising campaigns.

They are claimed to be the most effective means of drawing attention to one or more aspects of a product or brand.

But how often do you see “serving you since 1982” or a similarly canned slogan under a beautifully designed logo? Too often.

In this post, we’ll discuss 5 essential tips on how to write a killer slogan and, if you feel you can’t manage it on your own, where to go to get them written for you.

At the end of these tips, you’ll find a selection of famous slogans as well as an interactive showcase of famous slogans.

The first step is to decide whether or not you need a slogan. If you have a logo, you are already engaged in branding your product or your company.

If you have already taken this step, you really should consider a slogan as well.

Do you want to brand your product or company? That depends on the image that you are trying to project. If you want to attract larger corporate clients, branding is pretty much a necessity.

They will want to see that you are as serious about your product as they are. If you prefer to work with mom and pop shops and want to appear as the helpful guy next door, you may not require this level of branding.

The business model of your company determines your level of branding. If you want to take things to the next level, this is a good starting point.

 

1. Start From The Logo

If your brand doesn’t have a logo yet, you should get that done first. A slogan works with a logo in order to promote brand identity.

A slogan doesn’t really work without a logo unless your sole advertising medium is radio. The logo is the chicken, the slogan is the egg. If you are designing the logo and producing the slogan for a business, you have a unique opportunity to create both at once, which can allow you to better integrate the two as a final product.

Remember that top brands change their slogans all the time, and you can do the same if you feel you need to five years down the line. No slogan is cast in stone.

 

2. Give the Project the Time It Needs

You need one hour to research the company that you are doing the slogan for, 1-2 hours to brainstorm ideas after your initial research, and 1-2 hours for client consultation and editing.

If you are drawing up a contract, make sure that you limit the amount of times that you “go back to the drawing board” so that the project doesn’t turn into an endless time suck.

Coming up with a slogan isn’t easy, even for seasoned veterans, and takes at least one working day, so charge accordingly. On the flip side, if you are hiring a slogan writer, there needs to be an element of trust there before you hire them.

You have to trust that they really are going to come up with some great slogan ideas for you to choose from, and you can’t really keep going back and expect them to go through the process indefinitely after paying for an initial session.

If you really don’t like the slogans that they give you, or feel that they misinterpreted your brand’s vision, most slogan writers will want to make it right within limits and these limits will usually be made very clear in your initial contract.

 

3. Keep It Simple

A logo is only effective if your audience can understand it quickly.

You only have a few seconds to impress, so a slogan like “the best in olfactory widgets since 1949” isn’t going to do the trick. Simplicity is what you’re aiming for.

Slogans absolutely cannot go over one sentence and five dollar words such as “olfactory” should be avoided. Some rules are made to be broken; if there is a five dollar word that rolls up a few sentences of meaning in one word, go for it.

The one sentence rule, however, should be adhered to at all costs. Simple slogan: Just Do It (Nike). Not simple enough slogan: Selling the Highest Quality Organic & Natural Products (Whole Foods).

 

4. Make It Funny, If You Can

Where you can bring humor to a slogan, do it.

A great example is Cracked.com’s slogan: “America’s Only Humor & Video Site, Since 1958”. This slogan packs in a few jokes including making fun of the usual “since such a year” slogan and claiming to be the only humour site in America.

There is also a claim about being the only video site, and the fact that they couldn’t have been a website since 1958. All of this in eight words, if you count the “and” symbol.

While they had to make their slogan funny, the same approach to slogan writing of injecting a joke or two is something that you should adopt when appropriate.

If you can’t make it funny without making it lame, just drop the funny and go with your next best options.

 

5. Stay Honest and Don’t “Trump Up” Your Product

Honesty is important. Can your business actually deliver on the promise that your slogan makes? If not, rethink the slogan.

You’ll also want to stay away from slogans that incorporate language like “the best” or “#1 at what we do” because that kind of language is not only standard and boring, but hard to substantiate even if it is true.

This is a fine line to walk because you still want to present the idea of a quality product without coming off as being too pushy, but a good slogan writer can manage it.

If it seems too intimidating, don’t think of it as writing a slogan, think of it as writing a brand message. What would your product say if it could talk?

Dishonest Slogan: Daz with the blue whitener washes cleanest (Daz) Example from p.186, Advertising as Communication, Gillian Dyer, 1988



 

Where To Find Slogan Writers

This all depends on what you need them for. If you are a graphic designer that already does logos, you are better off working with a freelance writer.

If you are a business client that needs a logo and slogan, you may want to use an advertising agency or a combination of a graphic designer and a freelance writer, depending on your budget.

To truly get what you want out of either arrangement, come to the agency or writer with a list of your own brainstormed slogan ideas, all of the brochures and websites about your product that you can gather and an open mind for what they can create.

They will likely come up with something completely different, but this will give them an excellent starting point.


Advertising Agency

An advertising agency will generally be very experienced in slogan writing as they deal with brand management on a day-to-day basis.

Agencies do not come cheap, but are well worth the investment in terms of the quality provided for the dollar. Given the cost, mid-sized to large companies will want to consider agencies.

If you have a larger budget, an agency will often be able to arrange market research testing for your slogan and logo that is also well worth the investment.


Freelance Writers

Some freelance writers specialize in slogan writing, but really any freelance writer can manage this task.

You’ll want to look for writers who have experience writing sales letters and promotional copy, as they are more likely to produce the results that you are looking for.

While the experience level may not be the same as a top-level agency, the bill and the more personalized service that you will receive may be more of what you are looking for if you run a smaller business.

If you are looking for a slogan writer, simply post an ad on CraigsList in your area and watch the responses come flooding in.


In-House

This depends. Often sales managers and staff work so closely with the product that they have a hard time looking at it with a fresh eye.

There are also interpersonal factors to consider; if you love the job your sales manager is doing but hate their slogan, you may find yourself in a difficult position.

If you have a marketing writer on staff, they will usually be able to produce good slogans for you. A sales person or manager has a very specific skill set that generally doesn’t extend to creative.

 


 

Interactive Examples

Some companies change their slogans very often while others keep their slogans for years. Just how memorable are slogans in general and do they really accomplish what they’re set to do?

Here are 20 examples of well known companies and their slogans. We have purposedly hidden the companies behind these slogans so that you can see if you can figure out which company is connected to which slogan.

To reveal the company behind each slogan, simply roll over the images below:


 

Famous Slogans

Here are some of the most famous slogans ever created:

Where do you want to go today? – Microsoft

Where’s the beef? – Wendy’s

Between love and madness lies Obsession. – Calvin Klein’s “Obsession”

Plop, plop; fizz, fizz; oh, what a relief it is. – Alka Seltzer

There are some things money can’t buy. For everything else there’s Mastercard. – Mastercard

Sharp Minds, Sharp Products. – Sharp

Do you… Yahoo!? – Yahoo!

Wikipedia, the Free Encyclopedia. – Wikipedia

Because you’re worth it. – L’Oreal

Be all that you can be. – United States Army

M&Ms melt in your mouth, not in your hand. – M&M candies

Let’s Make Things Better. – Philips


We make money the old-fashioned way….We earn it.
– Smith Barney

Everything is easier on a Mac. – Apple Computer

Don’t leave home without it. – American Express

The king of beers. – Budweiser

Welcome to the World Wide Wow – AOL. (play on World Wide Web)

Live in your world, play in ours. – Sony Playstation and Playstation 2 gaming consoles

When it absolutely, positively has to be there overnight. – Federal Express

Push Button Publishing. – Blogger.com

The best a man can get. –  Gillette

We’re number two; we try harder. – Avis Rental Cars

Nothin’ says lovin’ like something from the oven. – Pillsbury

Come alive! You’re in the Pepsi generation. – Pepsi Cola


No battery is stronger longer.
– Duracell Batteries


Intel inside.
– Intel

 

Summary

A slogan is as necessary to a brand, even an online-only one, as a logo is. If you have one, you should have the other, if only to differentiate yourself from the rest of the crowd that has a logo with no slogan.

Even if you are going to hire someone else to produce it, you should brainstorm a list of options just to make sure that they understand what you believe your own brand message to be.

Keep it simple, try to make it funny, and make sure you aren’t making an inflated claim about your product.


Written exclusively for WDD by Angela West. Interactive examples and slogans compiled by WDD.



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