There’s magic about incredibly simple writing. It’s difficult to convince or express meaning in a few words, but that’s exactly what a slogan does. Brands that get it right are able to convey their key value proposition in powerful ways.
In business, a slogan is a simple phrase or statement that characterizes a product or service. The best slogans are brief but they can reveal so much more. It’s as though they work on a deeper level, as more than just a way to move merchandise.
A good slogan is catchy, or memorable. For example, ‘Think Fresh.’ Whether it motivates you to go to Subway remains to be seen, but the real goal is getting that key message into consumers’ minds. Even if they remember nothing else from the ad or commercial, they’ll remember the slogan. Successful slogans are far-reaching and widely recognized. Incredibly, they transcend languages, borders and socio-economic boundaries.
Here are 4 of the most motivating slogans which represent thriving companies worldwide.
1. Nike – “Just Do It”
Interestingly, Nike’s famous slogan was inspired by infamous last words. The advertising executive who coined the phrase, Dan Wieden, recalled a convicted killer’s final words before facing the firing squad, “let’s do this.” Slightly altered, Mr. Weiden brought his version of the slogan to Nike and in 1988, ‘Just Do It’ appeared in a TV ad.
To this day, Nike’s slogan is one of the core components of its brand. The message is no-nonsense; it resonates with empowerment. If you want to do it, just do it. More than that, the slogan is inclusive. While Reebok was targeting aerobics in the late 80’s, Nike took a different approach. Instead of marketing exclusively to hardcore runners, Nike expanded their product line to include everyday Americans.
Famous athletes have always promoted the Nike image through endorsements and advertisements but there was a shift as people started reading into Just Do It, as motivation for much more than sport. This is how Nike went beyond fit and became insanely fashionable.
“When Nike says, just do it, that’s a message of empowerment. Why aren’t the rest of us speaking to young people in a voice of inspiration? ” – Naomi Klein
2. The Drew League – “No Excuse. Just Produce.”
“Man, get it done. Period. Excuses are a dime a dozen. Come hell or high water, find out a way to get it done and be successful.” That’s how the Drew League motto resonates with Kobe Bryant.
Forty years ago, in South Central L.A., the Drew League was six teams playing streetball in a tough neighborhood. It has since evolved into a cultural phenomenon for high-caliber basketball exhibition.
The slogan was made famous by Dino Smiley, the Commissioner. ‘No Excuse. Just Produce.’ is about pride and dedication to details. It has meant a lot to local kids and global superstars involved with the Drew League over the years. The words emphasize fierce competition over name recognition. No matter where you’re from or who you are – all are equal playing the same game.
The slogan is all the more motivating for how richly embedded it is in its own story. It started as a motto by early ballers in the league and eventually became the league’s reigning message which hangs boldly among the gym’s rafters. Unlike Nike’s slogan, which was born under a marketing microscope, the Drew’s slogan sprang from tradition and passion.
3. Apple- “Think Different”
In 1997, Apple was in a slump and Steve Jobs’ top priority was renewing the company’s image. Not only did the ‘Think Different’ campaign restore Apple’s reputation, it became a paradigm in creative marketing.
There were some unconventional rules of the campaign which would lend or bend to its iconic image over time. Most notably was the absence of products. ‘Think Different’ was introduced on television commercials but you won’t see an Apple computer in any of them. In print, Apple bought space in computer magazines as well as fashion magazines, which may have seemed insane in the eyes of its competitors at the time, but it helped the brand become iconic.
Many argued that Apple’s motto wasn’t clever or creative at all – that is was a jesting response to IBM’s ‘Think’ campaign at the time. There was even a Simpson’s episode poking fun at the slogan, writing it “Think Differently”, which is, actually, grammatically correct.
It was an uphill battle but ultimately the slogan proves originality and ingenuity to be enduring. Steve Jobs didn’t believe in a limited life. ‘Think Different’ was an extension of that notion; the importance of making your mark. If it seems crazy or ingenious, it just might be extraordinary.
“Innovation distinguishes between a leader and a follower.” – Steve Jobs
4. Audi- “Never Follow”
When it comes to cars, automakers strive for a loyal and consistent customer base. The right slogan should call to mind a legacy – not just the newest model but all the makes and models. A memorable and effective catch phrase gets drivers thinking about the past, present and future of automobiles.
The ‘Never Follow’ campaign wasn’t inventive like ‘Think Different’ or steeped with tradition like the Drew Leagues’ motto. In fact, ‘Never Follow’ proves that slogans aren’t meant to last forever; like the products themselves, they adapt over time.
In 1971, Audi coined the slogan, ‘Vorsprung durch Technil.’ It’s one of the longest running taglines in advertising history. In the U.S., however, it never translated quite right so Audi changed it slightly and introduced it as ‘Truth in Engineering’ for U.S. consumers. In order to market its cars at an international level, the slogan had to make sense everywhere, even if it was different.
‘Never Follow’ actually preceded their current ‘Truth in Engineering’ slogan. In 2002 it was launched as one of Audi’s smaller campaigns. This was one of many tactical moves aimed at introducing a particular model with its own catch phrase. The slogan has a dreamy, elusive appeal. Rather than emphasizing advanced technologies or performance, the slogan is meant to highlight innovation and a pathway to an open road