• The Perfect Brand Slogan

    by  • May 23, 2011 • Branding, Marketing

    Most folks in the branding game will judge a proposed slogan or tag line by a defined set of objectives. In my day, I started with strategy. If a slogan did not communicate the brand’s strategic intent, it was a non-starter. But the assessment didn’t end with strategy. Also important: clever creative, brand image consistency, and the ability of the slogan to weather the cruel test of time. Ironically, a great slogan’s constraint to longevity can be the boredom of the marketer. Marketers like change, but often they make change for change’s sake.

    The most successful slogan I was associated with was for the Canadian Coffee brand, Nabob. Nabob was positioned as the brand that took endless care to select only the best coffee beans for its blends. The inherent payoff, of course, was in the cup. At first I thought the slogan, Many are picked, few are chosen was too long. But in the end, the line was so strategically powerful, that I went with it and for many years it solidified Nabob as Canada’s leading brand. The slogan’s life ended when Kraft purchased Jacobs Suchard. However, to Kraft’s credit (and I seldom give Kraft credit), they stuck with the strategy, but changed the slogan to Better Beans, Better Coffee. I guess they didn’t think the consumer was bright enough to make the connection. Anyway, this blog is about the slogans below. In my view, they are as close to perfect as you can get.

    Just do it Honestly, I’m not so sure I would have approved this line back in 1988. I know I would have liked the call to action, the simplicity and the potential staying power. But the slogan’s strategic content? Hmm. Yet, in hindsight, Just do it proved to be an awesome way to link the consumer to the Nike way of life.

    Breakfast of champions.  Created in 1935, this one wins the endurance race, hands down. And like Nike’s Just do it, this slogan unites the consumer with the athlete and the product. To better connect with the strategy, General Mills began featuring athletes on the box in 1958 and they’re still doing it.

    A Diamond is forever  was created by a young copywriter and launched in 1948. The only kink in the slogan’s armor is the connection to De Beers. I suggest the slogan has become generic to the market. But is that the fault of the slogan or the marketer? Nonetheless, as go diamonds, goes De Beers.

    You’re in good hands Insurance companies sell ‘peace of mind’ and Allstate captured that with the line and a marvelous visual. Ironically, this slogan was not created by an ad agency but by an Allstate sales manager in 1950. Now, as far as ‘walking the talk,’ Allstate has plenty of work to do. But the slogan’s a winner.

    We bring good things to life  lasted from 1981 until 2004 with a changing of GE’s executive guard. Jack Welch’s replacement wanted ‘Innovation at Work’ — not bad for culture and corporate morale, but in my view, short on consumer relativity.

    As for honorable mentions, I give kudos to BMW for The ultimate driving machine, AMEX for Don’t leave home without it, and Coca-Cola for The pause that refreshes.

    Article first published as The Perfect Brand Slogan on Technorati.

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    Formerlife: Jacobs Suchard CEO (Kraft, Nabob), Strategy Consultant. Afterlife: Palgrave Macmillan Author, Business Blogger, Wannabe Novelist

    3 Responses to The Perfect Brand Slogan

    1. The Ad Contrarian
      May 23, 2011 at 4:50 pm


      I think there are two types of great tag lines. First, the ones that stand on their own like "Breakfast of Champions," and "A Diamond is Forever."

      Second are the ones that require great executions like "Just Do It"

      Yours is a very good list. The only one I don't agree with is #5. I actually think it's a pretty lousy line. Too generic for my taste.

      I'd also like to add for your consideration "Baseball, Hot Dogs, Apple Pie and Chevrolet", and "Got milk?"

    2. John Bell
      May 23, 2011 at 5:04 pm

      >Thanks for your input, Ad Contrarian. That's a good point on taglines being able to stand on their own. As you rightly point out, 'Just Do It' required great executive to achieve such status. No doubt we can say the same for 'Got Milk'. Can you imagine assessing that tagline without the assistance of an execution?

    3. Shakeel Choudari
      July 22, 2011 at 6:04 am