Slogan Sandwich: Messages Have Layers

 Yesterday, as I drove past a deli in my neighborhood, I saw a banner advertising a brand of lunchmeat.

The sign read: “Take Back Lunch” with the company logo below.

Maybe my mind is wired differently than most, but I immediately thought that if you have to “take back” your lunch, then you must’ve lost your lunch for some reason.


Associating “losing your lunch” with a line of deli meats may not have been the marketing team’s direct intention. Nonetheless, it follows the train of thought of some consumers.

I’m sure this company wanted to encourage people to pack their lunch, to make time for themselves while enjoying a great sandwich using their meats and cheeses. But so many other slogans could accomplish this goal without a hint of… well, vomiting.

On the bright side, it did get my attention… and it certainly helped tattoo the brand on my brain. It’s probably just not the initial impression they were looking for.

Moral of the story: Don’t be so married to a slogan that you block out other interpretations of your message. Invite opinions, test it out, and be open to the feedback. It helps build a stronger message… and that’s what it’s all about.


Playing with Heartstrings

 This morning as I was slinging slogans for a client, I went through my sheets of ideas to list out the ones they might like best.

After a few hours of brainstorming, all kinds of thoughts had splashed down on the page. But from dozens of ideas, only a handful were strong enough to pass along for consideration.

So what made the difference? Why did some wording ideas seem stronger than others?

For this project, it was all about heart. The project involved the marketing of a fundraiser campaign. To motivate their specific audience into action, the message had to make a direct, emotional appeal in a sophisticated way. It had to tug at their heart – showing the donor that they can directly benefit in some way by making contribution, without stating it directly. It requires subtlety – that also packs a wallop!

In today’s economy, giving the talking points about your wonderful organization isn’t enough. The break-through messages are the ones that give the the donor (or client) a reason to feel great about giving (or doing business with you). It really doesn’t matter that you’ve been serving your community since 1962. What really matters for your message is how their donation can make a difference – making them feel good about themselves in some way.

Touching their hearts can open their wallets. Playing their heartstrings is key.

Challenge: “Green” Luxury Vehicle Shirt Slogans

Earlier today, someone on the forum needed some tagline help: “I am looking at developing a range of t-shirts for a client of mine that must incorporate a ‘green’ message. I am looking for 5-6 messages and design ideas to print on to the front of t-shirts made from organic cotton.
– luxury automotive manufacturer
– young, fun and classy
– taglines can’t be tacky or obvious
– taglines could possibly relate to the persons choice in choosing a ‘green’ or more environmentally friendly vehicle/or lifestyle”

While green may be the new black, here are some of the ideas I came up with for him. It was a fun thing to wrap my brain around, so I wanted to share. And if you see them on a tee-shirt soon, you’ll know where they came from!

“Compromise Nothing”
“Spoiled… not oiled”
“Purrs like a kitten…”
“Responsibly Fabulous”
(and my favorite) “Don’t be crude.”


The truth about taglines

A slogan sells. A tagline tells.

Taglines share your story. In a few well-crafted words, your tagline should explain what you do, how you do it, and/or why your audience should want what you offer. And if it’s really good, it stirs an emotion deep within that persuades your audience – in a good way.

The tagline works in tandem with your logo to “brand” or tattoo your business into the minds of your market. I guess they don’t call it “branding” for nothing! Think cattle. The cool thing is that your tagline can change as your marketing changes. In fact, some marketing resources, like Anita Campbell’s, recommend changing your tagline as an easy way to strengthen your marketing. In fact, you can even have different taglines for different audiences. As your business focus evolves, so should your message.

When crafting a fresh tagline, my best advice is to be clear about: 1) who you are, 2) what you want people to remember about whatever it is you do, and 3) why they should use you. Get a cold drink and a yellow pad. Sit for a minute and answer these three questions. Make a list. Jot it down. The core of your message may be right there, on the page.

Now, you may not be able to find the right words to effectively communicate the concepts you just came up with. But knowing what you want to say – the gist of it – is half the battle. You can then pass your ideas to a professional wordsmith, like those at Slogan Studio. In no time, those ideas will be crafted into a tagline or slogan that truly resonates with your client base – one that helps grow your business.  

Taking an honest, authentic approach in your taglines is always best. It’s quickly becoming the standard approach in today’s marketing messages. People are becoming cynical. “Puffing” just doesn’t work. People see through it and move on to someone else.

Be true to your brand. Be clear in your tagline.

It looks good… but is it rotten?

I take my sayings seriously. In fact, I really do eat an apple a day. Our refrigerator in the garage is loaded with soda and beer… and apples. But in our Ohio winters, what looks like beautiful fresh fruit sometimes goes bad without us realizing it. Only after you cut into it do you see the brown streaks and mush at the core.

Your marketing is like apples in February.  Slogans, taglines and headlines are at the core. So how fresh and firm are your messages? How solid is the language you’re sending out in your persuasive push for more business? Has your goodness gone bad, without you realizing it?

On his recent blog post, “How would you rate this headline?” (, Bob Bly shares what seems like a pretty good headline for outer-envelope copy… that is, until you consider the intended audience. And once you consider the audience, you see that it’s actually a pretty lame choice of words. The company sending it invested thousands and thousands of dollars in a campaign that will most likey fall short – all because of a repulsive (yes, I did say repulsive) line of copy, causing the letter to be ignored and discarded. 

So take a close look at your marketing message, no matter how insignificant you think it may be – from envelopes to postcards, from letterhead to email signatures. See how attractive your taglines are to the people you want to do business with.

And if you’re surrounded by “bad apples” and lame messages, maybe it’s time for a fresh approach.