What’s In A Slogan?

slo·gan: a short and striking or memorable phrase used in advertising.

That’s the first definition of slogan that you’ll find when doing a Google search (thanks, Google Dictionary). I actually prefer that definition as it applies to the branding world, because it incorporates a key term: memorable.

In fact, that aspect of the word’s phrase is what ties it back to its origin. Slogan is derived from the Gaelic term sluagh-ghairm meaning war cry (that’s actually Merriam-Webster’s first full definition). And what is a war cry? Something that is so moving, the masses will come running. Something that is so unique, there is no mistaking its sound. Something that is so relatable, there is an instant sense of unification.

“Memorable”, while a great descriptor, is a bit all-encompassing. When you sit down to brainstorm your own slogan, think about these three desired elements:

A strong slogan is moving

While a slogan doesn’t need to move your audience to tears, it does need to evoke emotion. Look at Nike – “Just Do It” moves you to, literally, get moving. There’s no reason you can’t get moving with the brand’s promise that their products will help you get there.

A strong slogan is unique

For those early Scottish clansmen, it was critical to be able to distinguish their own war cries. In order to retain consumers amidst the hundreds of slogans they hear on a daily basis, yours must be recognizable. Don’t make it so unique that it doesn’t reflect the purpose of your company, but give yourself a chance to tap a message untouched by your competition. What is it that only you can provide?

A strong slogan is relatable

The restaurant chain, Denny’s, changed their slogan in 2011 from “A good place to sit and eat” to “America’s diner is always open.” Denny’s didn’t come close to the most popular all-night eatery in my hometown (We’ll always be loyal to Waffle House), but now that I think about it, I’m not sure I was aware that it was a 24-hour establishment. There are lots of good places to sit and eat, but how many places give you that “All-American Diner” feeling…and how many are always open? See what they did there? They incorporated two relatable elements that Denny’s audience could, without question, stand behind.


The funny thing about slogans is that they’re so simple, but the process of creating the right one for your company takes some elbow grease. Nailing down what you want your audience to do, what makes your approach different, and how to, ultimately, present something that’s easy to latch onto isn’t easy, but it’s one big step in forming a cohesive identity for your brand.

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