How to write a great slogan

reese's adLet’s go back to the basics in this post and start to rethink how we express ourselves to the world. Most companies have a slogan or a tag line that pretty much sums up what they offer, what they believe in, what they stand for, their guarantee or promise, or something along those lines. Ok, fair enough.

And we all know the benefit of a slogan – to remind people of SOMETHING about  you.  It’s your brand, short, sweet and to the point; it’s you in a nut shell. It’s what you want the consumer to remember about your brand. Got it.

But what separates a good slogan from a bad slogan? Well, my friend, all slogans were not created equal! What’s the difference between a few words strung together and a memorable tag line that can last for decades without losing any meaning?


Contrary to popular belief, it’s not all about the hokey pokey. It’s actually all about emotion. That’s what makes something memorable. To use Al Ries’ example from his last Ad Age article (which, by the way,  is so insightful, as usual), it’s one thing when you want to send a package overnight. But when it “absolutely, positively” has to get there, well you’re gonna use Fed Ex, now aren’t you?

When there’s no attachment, no sentiment that just pulls, ever so slightly, at your heart strings, or nerves, or whatever emotion is applicable, then the slogan is simply forgettable.

To address your next curiosity… Yes. Yes, creating an emotional pull will probably require a few more words. How long is the “ideal” slogan? Well, however long it has to be to create emotion.  Nike did it in 3 short words: “Just do it.” But when it comes to creating an effective and memorable slogan, there is no set rule. Who’s counting, anyway?

Need some inspiration? Here’s Ries’ list of long and emotion-driven tag lines that all work:

  • Ace Hardware: “Ace is the place with the helpful hardware man.” (9 words)
  • Avis: “Avis is only No.2 in rent-a-cars, so why go with us? We try harder.” (12 words)
  • Dyson: “The first vacuum cleaner that doesn’t lose suction.” (8 words)
  • Geico: “15 minutes can save you 15 percent or more on car insurance.” (12 words)
  • Las Vegas: “What happens in Vegas, stays in Vegas.” (7 words)
  • M&M’s: “Melts in your mouth, not in your hands.” (8 words)
  • The New York Times: “All the news that’s fit to print.” (7 words)
  • Reese’s peanut butter cups: “Two great tastes that taste great together.” (7 words)
  • Reno, Nevada: “The biggest little city in the world.” (7 words)
  • Roto-Rooter: “That’s the name and away go troubles down the drain.” (10 words)
  • Saturn: “A different kind of company. A different kind of car.” (10 words)
  • Secret deodorant: “Strong enough for a man, but made for a woman.” (10 words)
  • Smuckers: “With a name like Smuckers, it’s got to be good.” (10 words)
  • Splenda: “Made from sugar so it tastes like sugar.” (8 words)

To read Ries’ full article in Ad Age, click here.

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