Rimmel is known for its famous tagline, “get the London look”.

However, as part of a recent re-positioning, it is now encouraging consumers to “live the London look” instead.

The change is incredibly subtle, but it got me thinking about what happens when a brand decides to alter such a familiar and intrinsic part of its own identity. 

Similarly, what makes the most enduring slogans so successful? Let’s start with a few basics.

What is the aim of a slogan?

If a logo is the visual representation of a brand, a slogan or tagline is what truly brings it to life. 

In short, it is a key phrase or set of words that communicates the essence of a brand, and one that is designed to stick in the minds of consumers.

Key features of a winning slogan

It is succinct

The most enduring brand slogans are often short, catchy and easy to remember. Much like a song chorus that gets stuck in your head, it needs to have a rhythm or sound that rolls off the tongue and is instantly recognisable. 

When a slogan is put to music or used as part of a jingle, this is often when it really resonates. "I’d rather have a bowl of Coco Pops," is a fine example.

It provides incentive

Effective slogans also highlight what’s beneficial about a product or service, prompting consumers to buy into the brand. 

Furthermore, it’s vital that it evokes or instils a positive feeling or incentive. For instance, something like “It’s good to talk” from BT (British Telecom) – while outdated in today’s context – brings to life the simple pleasure and emotional undertones of picking up the telephone to call a loved one.

It differentiates

Lastly, a slogan is often a good opportunity for a brand to tell consumers why it is different or unique. 

Marks & Spencer’s most famous tagline is from its “Not just any food” campaign, which paid homage to the brand’s reputation for high quality.

The fact that people continue to associate the phrase with the brand, even since it has stopped using it, shows how long a well-crafted slogan can endure.

Eight examples of effective slogans

Here are a few of my favourites, along with what I think makes them so effective. 

L’Oreal: Because you’re worth it

A slogan that's been in use since the 1970s, L'Oreal celebrates (and justifies) the very concept of buying make-up.

While it has been tweaked in recent years along with the brand’s efforts to become more inclusive – changing to ‘we’re worth it’ - it remains one of the most well-known phrases in the beauty industry.

Subway: Eat fresh

It's been suggested that three words is the magic formula for an effective slogan. Think "I'm lovin' it" or "Finger lickin' good". However, Subway manages to convey its core message in just two.

Sure, it might sound a bit crass, but its confident and straight-to-the-point message tells consumers all they need to know about its freshly made sandwiches.

HSBC: The world’s local bank

Proving that brands don't need to follow the rules, this oxymoron from HSBC has one main aim and that is to instil trust.

Reassuring customers that, despite being a global corporation, it has the values of a local bank - it's a clever play on words.

Nike: Just do it

Nike’s slogan is built on the notion that anyone can achieve greatness. Regardless of who you are or where you’re from, the simple call to ‘just do it’ is both uplifting and inspiring – two hallmarks of Nike’s wider brand values.

Dollar Shave Club: Shave time. Shave Money

Puns are tricky to pull off, especially when they’re silly or childish as opposed to clever. For some reason, however, I think this example works simply because it’s so unapologetic.

It fits in well with Dollar Shave Club’s witty and self-deprecating style of advertising, perfectly summing up the brand’s money saving appeal.

Tesco: Every little helps

Re-affirming its stance on value and customer service, Tesco's slogan is subtle. It's not just about money of course, but everything that Tesco offers (from its insurance to its Metro stores) that helps customers.

It's also an incredibly comforting turn of phrase, which reassures consumers that it is a supermarket that cares.

Mr Kipling: Exceedingly good cakes

Encapsulating the character of Mr Kipling, this simple but self-explanatory phrase manages to elevate a simple fairy cake into something extra special. A bit like the aforementioned M&S example, it's quite boastful, but charmingly so.

With Mr Kipling reintroducing the slogan in a bit to boost sales, it proves that familiarity and nostalgia can often contribute to why certain slogans work.

Ronseal: It does exactly what it says on the tin

Finally, Ronseal is a great example of a slogan that goes beyond a brand to enter into our everyday vernacular.

While the no-nonsense statement first aimed to reassure customers that DIY doesn't have to be complicated, it now stands for transparency in all senses, and the reassurance that there is no hidden agenda or underlying meaning. 

Nikki Gilliland

Published 30 January, 2017 by Nikki Gilliland @ Econsultancy

Nikki is a Writer at Econsultancy. You can follow her on Twitter or connect via LinkedIn.

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Comments (2)

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Tony Edey, . at RCL Cruises Ltd

I think something all the above slogans offer, and all good ones share in common, is some degree of simple, undeniable truth. The best sum up and define the brand in just a short sentence, which is something that clicks with a consumer at a base level. They are not fluff, they are not unrealistic positioning, they are not buzzwords and the real proof is in their longevity. They remain relevant forever because they speak to the product/brand/company's core value/proposition. Too many brands fall into the trap of having a strapline that tries to position them as something the market does not see them as, which immediately erodes belief and trust. I think superlatives in straplines are a particularly bad idea for just this reason. It's all too easy to switch off to marketing hyperbole, and so many brands fall into this trap. With such linguistic versatility available, hitting the sweet spot is actually a remarkably difficult trick to pull off, as seen by so many brands that keep changing their slogan/strapline/whatever-it's-called-this-week.

Also, you can't underestimate the power of repetition. The McDonald's strapline irritates me intensely, and the tune is fingernails down a blackboard to my ears, but I can't deny it creates an immediately recognisable brand identity, no matter the rest of the message. Similar for Tesco, where the grammar purist in me twinges a little every time I hear "Every little helps".

Finally, advertising that connects well to the strapline go a long way to explaining and defining its value. Think how much weaker the Ronseal strapline would be without the TV ads, which also play up to the strapline with their no-nonsense delivery.

about 1 year ago

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Matt Lovell, Head of Customer Insight at Jack Wills

Really nice article and I completely agree Tony. The main thing that differentiates the successful slogans from those that have passed us by forgotten is their relevance. Obviously promoting a slogan through advertising, PR etc. will help but unless it rings true with the consumers, you might as well just shout out the brand's name incessantly for all the good it will do...

The biggest issue most brands here is their approach to determining these slogans. The HIPPO still reins strong in many organisations and unless they start to truly ask what their customers think, any new catchphrase will fall on deaf ears!

about 1 year ago

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