Like many of the most memorable songs, brands have their own hooks, or slogans.
Wikipedia describes a hook as “a short riff, passage, or phrase that is used in popular music to make a song appealing and to ‘catch the ear of the listener’”. They are phrases that are simple to understand and remember. They often paint a picture that helps illustrate in a person’s mind what the song is about.
Slogans do the same for brands as hooks do for songs.
Thoughtful slogans not only catch the ear of the prospective customer but also capture the essence of a brand. They are a call to arms that signal to people why the brand exists, and why people should be a part of the brand community.
So what should you consider when creating your brand slogan? Hit these 7 notes:
- Base it on research: You need to know the people you are trying to reach and keep. And the only way you can know them is to listen and talk to them. Check out what they are doing online; how they are interacting with your content; how they are engaging with your competition. You need to make sure you understand the need you are satisfying for them and how you are uniquely able to do so. Doing so will help you hit the right note when developing your slogan.
- Use it as a bridge to your community: Bruce Springsteen’s “Born in the USA” anthem seamlessly connects him with his audience; all chanting “Born in the USA! Born in the USA!” Similarly, your slogan should be as much about your community as it is about you. Not only does it need to capture your brand’s essence, but it also needs to serve as that verbal link that brings you and your community together.
- Avoid jargon: Forget the marketing and brand jargon. Take a page from country music and be straightforward with your slogan. Use your community’s language. Think about how they talk about the problem that you have a solution for. Use that language to inspire the way you present who you are.
- Think of the long term: In “Hot N Cold” Katy Perry sings “You change your mind like a girl changes clothes” (yes, my wife made fun of me for knowing lyrics to this song). You need to think of a slogan that will stand the test of time (new competition, new products/services, economic shifts). Think of the relationship you are forging with your target community. The more frequently you change your slogan, the more likely they are to not know what you stand for. Make sure your slogan has staying power.
- Keep it short: A slogan doesn’t have to say everything you do or list every product/service you offer – that’s what marketing, storytelling and customer service are about. Your slogan needs to be that verbal cue quickly that let’s the people you are after, and those who are already under your brand tent, the essence of what you’ll do for them.
- Consider global/multicultural reach: If your brand aims to reach across borders and/or cultures you have a more daunting task in crafting a slogan that works well in different languages. You need to consider the words, double meanings, symbolism and overall impact that your phrase can have in the native languages of the communities you are reaching. Strict translation may likely miss the mark so you’ll need to find the best way to adapt it – Test it first. (Check out this amazing version of “Stairway to Heaven” by the Mexican duo of Rodrigo y Gabriela).
- A slogan is not the end-all-be-all: A slogan is meant to capture the essence of your brand. A great slogan for a brand that doesn’t deliver on its promise to its community is useless. Your community’s experience with the brand is what brings the slogan to life and makes it ring true.
It’s not an easy endeavor at all, but if you hit on these 7 notes, you’ll be well on your way to crafting a slogan that will be at the top of your community’s chart.
Let me know if you have any other points that should be added!
Need some inspiration? Communications strategist Sarosh Waiz has a list of 40 of the best slogans of modern brands.