We’ve all grown up surrounded by company taglines and slogans. Some of them are so ingrained in our minds that we can’t separate them from their companies.
Just Do It.
Taste the Rainbow.
You probably don’t have to Google these to know where they come from.
What makes these taglines stay in our minds? How do we remember them even when the companies aren’t running the same slogan campaigns?
What are some of the greatest slogans of our time, and what makes them great?
Let’s answer these questions one by one.
What’s In A Slogan?
Before we get into what makes a slogan great, it’s important to define what a slogan is. Merriam-Webster says it’s, “…a brief attention-getting phrase used in advertising or promotion.”
In other words, slogans are short memorable phrases that help people remember something important about a brand. Usually, slogans don’t mention the company’s name.
Taglines are instead meant to highlight what the company does, and what sets them apart from the rest.
How to Make a Great Slogan
If you want to create a great catch phrase, there are some things to keep in mind.
Short and Snappy
Generally speaking, the best slogans are short enough that they can be remembered. If they’re too long, it can be difficult for people to recall. Likewise, the words need to be smooth. Clunky phrases will take away from your overall message.
Let’s take Nike’s, “Just do it,” phrase. It wouldn’t be as easy to memorize if the phrase was, “If you don’t try it, you’ll never get a chance to know if you’ll be great. Give it a try, and maybe you’ll succeed.” Great message, but not short or easy to read.
“Just do it,” is also short enough to be the right amount of vague. Nike wasn’t just targeting soccer players, or basketball players, their phrase could be applied to just about anyone.
It’s easy to think your company, or the company you represent, is the best on the market, but you want to make sure that the claim you’re making is true. Using things like “we’re the best” may sound great, but it may not be true. It also doesn’t really give people much insight into your business. In other words, it’s pretty generic.
Consumers are smart when it comes to advertisements, and they really want something they can trust. Hyperbole is a big turn off, so try to think of something that your business does exceptionally well.
Make it Clever
A slogan might stand out to people because it’s clever. For example, Dollar Shave Club’s slogan, “Shave time. Shave Money.” is a fun play on words. It’s also short and to the point, so people aren’t too caught up in a wordy sentiment.
Offer a Solution
Sometimes slogans stand out because they resolve an issue that many people deal with. For example, M&M’s tagline, “Melts in your mouth, not in your hands” is in response to people being frustrated by chocolate candies making their hands messy. Try to eat a chocolate on a hot day and you’ll know exactly what this means.
Make it Distinct
Use your slogan to point out what makes your product or service different than other peoples. A good example of this is the New York Time’s phrase, “All the news that’s fit to print.” This shows that they’re different than their competitors because they are going to fill their newspaper, but only with the news that’s worth printing.
Make it Resonate
This may be one of the most important ways to make a tagline memorable. When you’re thinking of a way to express your brand, you want to keep in mind your target audience. What works for them? What makes them tick?
Harley Davidson has created a lot of taglines through the years, and they generally do a really good job understanding their market. Their slogan, “American by birth, rebel by choice” matches their target audience well. Many people in the biker community are proud to be Americans, and they’re also proud to go against the grain.
The 17 Best Slogans Of All Time
What are some of the most outstanding, clever, and memorable slogans of our time? What makes them stand out above the rest, and why were they successful?
1. Apple: “Why 1984 Won’t Be Like 1984” and “Think Different”
Since its first release of a personal computer in 1984, Apple has been a company that thinks outside the box. This is true for both their products, and their advertising.
Why 1984 Won’t Be Like 1984
The commercial was a play on George Orwell’s dystopian novel 1984 in which people were depicted as gray, somber, and an audience to what appears to be an evil ruler who wants them to have “unification of thoughts.”
During the course of the commercial, a young blonde woman wearing bright orange shorts is carrying a sledgehammer and running from the police. At the end of the commercial, she runs into the auditorium of lifeless dull people listening to the dictator on a giant screen. She throws the sledgehammer at the screen and destroys the message. Then, Apple’s tagline, “Why 1984 Won’t Be Like 1984” appears.
Besides the fact that the commercial tells a captivating story in 1:03 minutes, it also did two more things. One, it calmed the fears of people who believed computers would lead to the destruction of our society, just as screens were used negatively in George Orwell’s 1984. Secondly, it gave life and distinction to a product that might otherwise have been considered dull and uninteresting to the common consumer.
In 1997, Apple’s “Think Different” campaign fell in line well with their overall message. They represented themselves as a company who isn’t afraid to be different, who in fact embraces the concept. To highlight their slogan, Apple selected people in history who were not afraid to “think different.”
In addition to a TV ad that starts out saying “here’s to the crazy ones,” Apple also released full-page ads in newspapers in magazines. These ads featured Albert Einstein, Gandhi, Bob Dylan, Muhammad Ali, and Amelia Earhart with the words “Think Different.” The people they chose were impactful people in history who did things differently. The commercial implies that people who use Apple products are the same way, and that they can use their Apple devices to change the world.
2. California Milk Processor Board: “Got Milk?”
Milk. A relatively bland staple of the American diet. In 1993, the California Milk Processor Board (CMPB) wanted to combat unhealthy fast food eating habits that were on the rise. Instead, they wanted people to drink something they viewed as healthier: milk.
The problem was, how do you make milk appealing? More to the point, how do you make milk more appealing than soda?
CMPB hired an ad firm by the name of Goodby, Silverstein & Partners to come up with a sales pitch for milk. A man by the name of Jon Steel was in charge of a focus group they put together to begin coming up with a sales campaign. He asked the people in the focus group to give up milk for one week before they came to the study.
Many of the respondents expressed that it had been difficult to give up milk for an entire week. One man, in particular, explained that he was disappointed and not sure what to do when he automatically came downstairs in the morning and poured milk on his cereal. Before he took his first bite he remembered that he had agreed not to drink milk that week. But how could he enjoy his cereal without milk?
Steele realized that he was on to something great, and the “Got Milk” campaign was created.
These commercials depicted people eating food items that would ordinarily go well with milk, such as a peanut butter sandwich, realizing that they don’t have any fresh cold milk to wash it down with.
In addition to their clever commercials, they ran a print campaign often showcasing celebrities sporting a milk mustaches. These ads were often accompanied by a short explanation of milk’s health benefits, and, of course, the iconic “Got Milk?”
3. Nike: “Just Do It”
Nike’s “Just Do It” campaign is one of the most well-known slogans in advertising history. People wear it on their clothing, and most people recognize the phrase and correlate it with the brand Nike.
It’s beginnings are a bit unusual, however. In 1988, ad executive, Dan Wieden of Wieden+Kennedy advertising agency, was inspired by a murderer by the name of Gary Gilmore. Reportedly, after Gary was convicted of murder and sentenced to death by firing squad, his last words were, “Let’s do it.”
According to an interview in Dezeen Magazine, Wieden said, “I was recalling a man in Portland….He grew up in Portland, and ran around doing criminal acts in the country, and was in Utah where he murdered a man and a woman, and was sent to jail and put before a firing squad…They asked him if he had any final thoughts and he said: ‘Let’s do it’. I didn’t like ‘Let’s do it’ so I just changed it to ‘Just do it.’”
Because of the origin of the phrase, there was some understandable pushback from Nike’s co-founder. But, Wieden told them to trust him and it’s a good thing they did. Wieden was looking for a unifying message for Nike, and he had finally found it.
It was a message that connected with a large audience, and went beyond Nike’s original target market, namely marathon runners. Instead, it challenged anyone to rise up and do something. The encouragement didn’t even have to be directly linked to sports at all for people to feel inspired.
Campaign magazine wrote, “Like all great taglines, it was both simple and memorable. It also suggested something more than its literal meaning, allowing people to interpret it as they wished and, in doing so, establish a personal connection with the brand.”
4. Always: “Like a Girl”
In 2015, the company Always wanted to come up with a campaign that resonated with their younger demographic. They realized that they were losing ground with girls ages 16-24. Young women in that demographic age were more attracted to social media campaigns and ads that connected to them.
Previously, pads and tampons had been marketed primarily in one way — to focus on the functionality of the product. Young women responded better to ads that reached them on an emotional level.
Keeping this in mind, Always came out with a hashtag #LikeAGirl. They wanted to create an ad campaign that addressed an issue that girls in that age range with having low self-esteem. “Like a girl” is often meant to mean something derogatory. As in “you throw like a girl”, meaning, “you throw badly.” Always wanted to make the term positive, instead of negative.
Always came out with the hashtag #LikeAGirl in response to girls often developing a low self-esteem at puberty age. They took a phrase “like a girl,” that was often meant derogatorily, and changed it to mean something empowering.
In their commercial ad, they interviewed young women, men, and boys, and asked them to do certain tasks “like a girl.” For example, they asked them to “run like a girl.” They responded with running that was exaggerated and uncoordinated. However, when they asked young girls (prepubescent age) what they thought it meant to run like a girl, they ran full force. One girl said running like a girl meant “running as fast as you can.”
The commercial narrator asked the young women to revisit their idea of what it means to do things “like a girl.” They asked them what advice they would give girls entering puberty when they’re told that they do things like a girl.
One young woman said, “Keep doing it ’cause it’s working. If somebody else says that running like a girl, or kicking like a girl, or shooting like a girl is something that you shouldn’t be doing, that’s their problem. Because if you’re still scoring, and you’re still getting to the ball on time, and you’re still being first, you’re doing it right. It doesn’t matter what they say.”
Another young woman said, “Why can’t run like a girl also mean, win the race?”
Always’ marketing team took the same tone of empowerment to social media and print. The hashtag #LikeAGirl was a huge success, with girls all over turning it into something positive.
Always’ campaign resulted in increased social media engagement and they also had a significant increase in product sales.
5. Da Beers: “A Diamond is Forever.”
It was 1947 when a woman by the name of Frances Gerety came up with the phrase: “A diamond is forever.”
While today it’s hard to imagine an engagement ring without a diamond, in 1938 when De Beers contacted N.W. Ayer ad agency to see if they could increase their sales, diamonds were considered a luxury item for the ultra-rich. Interestingly enough, most American women during that time period considered diamonds a waste of money. In fact, they were more interested in practical items like washing machines or cars.
In addition to the lack of appeal, it turns out, diamonds were not as rare as we have been led to believe. Giant diamond mines were discovered in South Africa, which for the first time, flooded the world’s market with diamonds.
N.W. Ayers wanted to convince men who were getting ready to get married that they needed to do so with a diamond engagement ring. They linked diamonds to the idea of an eternal love — namely marriage. Today, around 75% of brides in the United States wear a diamond engagement band — and the turn around namely happened with the iconic slogan: “A diamond is forever.”
6. Verizon: “Can You Hear Me Now? Good,” and “We Never Stop Working for You.”
In 2002, during the rise of cell phone use and in the wake of countless dropped calls, Verizon released a tagline that connected with frustrated consumers. “Can you hear me now? Good.”
The commercial Verizon released shows a man in a variety or random places making sure that he still receives cell service. At each location, he says, “Can you hear me now? Good!”
The commercial voice-over narrator, James Earl Jones, says, “How do you build the world’s largest wireless network? By never being satisfied. Until no matter where you go, your call goes through. Verizon Wireless, we never stop working for you.”
The commercial works because dropping a call is one of the most frustrating things about cell service. If their company is working hard to make sure that it doesn’t happen, then they’re probably the right choice for coverage.
7. Mastercard: “Priceless. There are some things money can’t buy. For everything else, there’s Mastercard.”
Mastercard launched their “Priceless” campaign in 1997 with a heartfelt commercial about a Dad taking his son to a baseball game. The commercial creates a feeling of comfort and nostalgia.
As you watch the father and son enjoying the game, the narrator says, “Two tickets, $28. Two hot dogs, two popcorns, and two sodas, $18. One autographed baseball, $45. Real conversation with 11-year-old-son? Priceless. There are some things money can’t buy. For everything else, there’s Mastercard.”
Mastercard’s tagline is longer than most, but it’s memorable because of the emotional appeal that’s connected. They created a line of commercials that reminded people of the most important things in life. This is a big win for a large corporate credit card company that could otherwise be viewed as greedy and removed from their consumers.
Credit card companies have a reputation of taking advantage of people, and charging high-interest rates. Instead, these commercials make people feel safe and nurtured by the MasterCard company. Instead of taking your money, they’re there as a safety net during life’s most important moments.
8. Maybelline: “Maybe she’s born with it. Maybe it’s Maybelline.”
Maybelline’s clever tagline is so recognizable that it often makes it into popular culture and comedy routines.
The slogan, first appearing in the 1990’s, is not only a play on words. It also connects with something that many women desire — they want to be naturally beautiful. Maybelline recognized this desire and showed that their makeup would make women look beautiful — perhaps without appearing like they’re wearing makeup at all.
The advertising campaign was meant to give women the confidence to succeed in life. If their makeup was flawless, then they would be free to obtain the fun and success that they wanted from life.
9. Dunkin’ Donuts: “America Runs on Dunkin’.”
In 2006, Dunkin’ Donuts revealed their new marketing strategy in a press release. They said they wanted to, “revolutionize the brand’s position by focusing on how Dunkin’ Donuts keeps busy Americans fueled and on the go.”
The original launch included eight 30-second and eight 15-second ads. The commercial spots included commercials that showed average Americans going about their daily lives. In one commercial, it shows someone changing a tire, another person putting a leg on a table, and a third person and fixing a pipe, along with other tasks. In each shot, their Dunkin Donuts cup is along for the ride.
Of course, the commercial is suggesting that their Dunkin Donuts coffee is the item that fuels them to keep at it.
10: Subway: “Subway. Eat Fresh.”
In the world of fast food, it’s hard to imagine fresh healthy food. Most Americans recognize that fast food is not a healthy option, and it certainly isn’t made from fresh ingredients.
Subway wanted to capitalize on the idea that they could offer a healthier alternative to typical fast food. Their popular commercials featuring Jared Fogle, eating Subway sandwiches and losing weight, was an integral part of their healthy campaign.
As early as 1977, they were describing their sandwiches as fresh and delicious, but the current “Eat Fresh” campaign began in 2000.
11. Lay’s: “Betcha Can’t Eat Just One.”
Lay’s potato chip tagline, “Betcha can’t eat just one” works because it’s true. If you’ve ever tried to eat a single potato chip, you’ve probably experienced the desire to have at least one more.
Snacks, in general, are difficult to consume in the singular, but Lay’s capitalized on the idea for their product. Their commercials show light, salty, crispy chips and then they drop the challenge: “Betcha can’t eat just one.”
12. Rice Krispies: “Snap! Crackle! Pop!”
It’s hard to say what exactly is appealing about this tagline from a taste or nutrition standpoint, but we’re willing to bet if you grew up with this phrase, you’ve listened to the sound of your cereal crackling after the milk was poured.
These three words have been associated with Rice Krispies since the 1930’s when Kellogs introduced the gnome characters by the same name. They’re the longest running character advertisement that Kellogg’s has.
In 1932, an illustrator by the name of Vernon Grant heard Rice Krispies’ advertisement on the radio. It sang out, “Listen to the fairy song of health, the merry chorus sung by Kellogg’s Rice Krispies as they merrily snap, crackle, and pop in a bowl of milk. If you’ve never heard food talking, now is your chance!”
Inspired by the idea of making characters out of these onomatopoeias, he sat down and created the three gnomes we know today. Or at least the earliest versions of them. He presented his idea to Kellogg, and they were excited to use it.
Today, it’s hard to imagine Rice Krispies without the “snap” “crackle” and “pop” sound that they make.
13: Meow Mix: “Tastes So Good, Cats Ask for It by Name.”
When it comes to cat food, especially in the 1970’s, most people don’t know the difference between the brands. People don’t eat dry cat food, so how do you make it stand out to human consumers?
The famous “meow meow meow meow” song was created by Shelly Palmer in 1970. It’s very recognizable to anyone who has heard it. Despite the fact that it took a 16-year hiatus, people still believed that they had heard the jingle recently. It definitely helped with Meow Mix’s branding, but the tagline did as well.
You may not know what cat food is delicious, but your cat sure will. Meow Mix ran with the idea that every time your cat meows, what he’s really asking for his their food. If nothing else, they made their product stand out in a flooded market.
14. Disneyland: “The Happiest Place on Earth.”
It’s no secret that Disney is built on magic, and it’s not surprising that the same is true with the branding of their theme park.
Disneyland opened in California in 1955. 28,154 people attended, and millions watching on TV. Walt Disney probably didn’t have to work too hard for people to be interested in his theme park, but he still wanted to associate a feeling with Disneyland.
Children around the world would know that the tagline was true because what could be better than traveling into the imaginative world that they saw on the big screen? And what could make you a better parent to your kids than taking them to the happiest place on Earth?
15. State Farm: “Like a Good Neighbor, State Farm is There.”
Every year people pay billions of dollars for insurance that they hope they’ll never need. In light of this, many people view insurance companies as self-interested and highly corporate. They often also believe that insurance companies will do their best not to pay money out on a policy.
State Farm wanted to break down this barrier by letting their customers know that they would be there for them. Instead of being detached and uncaring in the event of a crisis, they would treat their clients with care.
Many crises happen unexpectedly, and people want to know that someone will help them in that event. State Farm claims to be what everyone would hope to have in a catastrophe: a good neighbor.
16. Political Campaigns
Slogans, of course, don’t have to be limited to just advertisement campaigns. They’re also used in other arenas where someone wants to promote an idea to a group of people. If you’re looking for a plethora of slogan inspiration, be sure to check out politics.
When it comes to picking Presidential candidates, most people want someone they can feel good about. Choosing a President is can be a difficult burden at times, but a good slogan can set people at ease and give them something to stand for.
1860 – Abraham Lincoln in his second term ran with the slogan, “Don’t Swap Horses When Crossing Streams.” His tagline was in response to the civil war, and he urged the American people to maintain through it with him.
1928 – Calvin Coolidge ran with the tagline, “Keep cool with Coolidge.” The idea was to remind the American people that Coolidge had already been running the country since the unfortunate death of former president Warren G. Harding. Coolidge had taken office as vice president after Harding’s death.
1952 – Dwight D. Eisenhower won his presidential campaign and used the very simple phrase, “I like Ike.” It got to the point and was a shortened version of a cartoon ad that said, “I like Ike, you like Ike, everybody likes Ike!”
1980 – Ronald Reagan ran the campaign under the tagline, “Let’s Make America Great Again.” He did so in response to what he believed was a deterioration of the economy under President Jimmy Carter.
1992 – Bill Clinton used the catchphrase, “It’s economy, stupid.” Originally meant only for campaign staffers, this blunt and to-the-point slogan was later used as a platform for Clinton’s proposed economy reform changes.
17. The U.S. Marines, “The Few. The Proud. The Marines.”
As with politics, advertising doesn’t have to be solely for companies. It can also be a powerful recruiting tool for the U.S. military.
The Marines has a history of impressionable taglines like, “The Marines are looking for a few good men,” “First to fight,” and “If everybody could get in the Marines, it wouldn’t be the Marines.”
The Marines have built their brand on being exclusive and only accepting the best of the best. In 2007, the slogan, “The few, the proud, the Marines” appeared on Madison Avenue’s Advertising Walk of Fame.
Of the slogan, Major General Richard T. Tryon said, “This slogan reflects the unique character of the Marine Corps and underscores the high caliber of those who join and serve their country as Marines.”
Final Words on Slogans
To create a slogan that draws people in, make sure that it’s memorable. Make it honest, make it clever, make it funny. Most of all, make it resonate with your audience. Give them an emotional attachment to your brand, and show that your product or service will make their lives better.