April 17, 2011

Ineffective Slogans

“We Work Hard So You Don’t Have To”

I’m sure you’ve heard this one. But do you actually know what company says it? Likely not, since it’s such a generic line. It could apply to almost any service, and to tons of products aimed to increase efficiency. A quick google search for the line will bring up vacation planning services, horse stables, janitorial services, and the one you probably heard it from, Scrubbing Bubbles. Scrubbing Bubbles is throwing away money on a slogan that does not build their brand.

“Welcome to the Human Network”

Yes, Cisco is trying to demonstrate how technology doesn’t need to be complicated and that they have excellent customer service. But who is their real audience? Is it the Marketing Director who wants to be able to pick up the phone and call someone, or the HR head who values interpersonal connection? No, it’s the IT guy who wants to make sure that the system works, without interruption, automatically.

“Believe in Something Better”

Like the Scrubbing Bubbles slogan, this could apply to anyone. It’s too grandiose of a slogan for an unknown company like U.S. Cellular. I’m sure it was just made by combining four or five different slogans their marketing team came up with in order to make everyone happy.


It’s tough to make a one word slogan work for a company, especially a company that has a “too expensive for what you actually get” reputation.

So what DOES make a good slogan?

  • Quickly explains the value your provide
  • Memorable (often by evoking emotion or humor)
  • Simple

One of my favorite slogans is from Diapers.com.

“We Deliver Everything But The Baby”

There is no question what diapers.com does after you hear this slogan. It’s simple, memorable, catchy, and tells exactly what they do. I can’t think of a better use of the domain name.

“Change We Can Believe In”

This slogan works well as a whole, but let’s break it down. If they solely went after the word ‘Change’ by itself like Acura went after ‘Advance,’ this would not have been as effective. The Obama campaign established the whole line first, and as it caught on, they could simply use the word ‘Change.’ The word ‘We’ gives it that popular team mentality, and makes people want to be part of something. ‘Believe’ signals vision, trust, and confidence, and appeals to people’s aspirational goals. Altogether, this slogan is rock solid.

Slogans should be used to enforce your brand. If done right, you can ‘claim’ additional words in consumer’s minds. Take the time when making a slogan and make sure it appeals to your audience’s needs.

  • Andrew S

    You’ve definitely pointed out a solid formula for coming up with a great slogan, and the Diapers.com example is spot on. However, the examples you gave for poor branding to have a reason for their existence. Cisco is the one that really stands out.

    With the way procurement is handled in large organizations which make purchases from Cisco (i.e. they have deep pockets), it’s not just a single IT manager who handles the purchasing. A CFO, accountant, or some other “non-techy” person who needs to sign off on the equipment. Spreading a warm-and-fuzzy around is a great way to sell the product to the ones with the authority to issue a purchase order or sign the checks.

    Still some great points.

    • http://brianshaffer.com Brian Shaffer

      Great point Andrew. And with some of Cisco’s newer systems like Telepresence, “The Human Network” isn’t such a bad slogan. Still, their bread and butter is switches and servers that nobody but the IT guy relates to on a daily basis.