The Making of a Great Slogan: 5 Slogans with Staying Power

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 “Just do it;” “When it rains, it pours;” “Good to the last drop.” We’ve all heard them, those catchy company slogans that suddenly take off and become part of our everyday vocabulary. But what makes a great slogan?

Slogans are an effective marketing tool for every company big and small. In fact, a slogan is one of the easiest and most cost-effective ways a business can market itself. Not only should a slogan be “catchy” and memorable, it should define your brand using just a few words. But in order to do this, you need to have a clear vision of your company and product. You’ll also need to ask yourself a few key questions such as what nouns and adjectives would you use to describe your brand? How do you think your customers would describe your brand and your company? With that in mind, let’s take a look at some of the 20th century’s best slogans.

1. “Just do it”

The “Just do it” slogan (Nike, 1988) is one of the most famous slogans ever created, quickly becoming a pop culture icon. Interestingly, it is reported to have originated as an off-the-cuff remark made by an ad agency executive during a meeting with Nike, as he commented on Nike’s “can-do” attitude. 

2. “Where’s the beef?”

Created in 1984 for fast food chain Wendy’s, the slogan first showed up in January of that year in a TV commercial featuring Clara Peller and two other women who had been served tiny hamburgers on large hamburger buns. Peller’s comment, “Where’s the beef?” skyrocketed her to fame and she became a household word—along with the catchy slogan.

3. “Don't leave home without it”

Created for American Express in 1975 by Ogilvy & Mather, this slogan became the gold standard for credit card advertising. It wasn’t until 10 years later, in 1985, that Visa followed up with its slogan, “Visa: It’s Everywhere You Want to Be.” More than 20 years passed before the slogan for MasterCard, “There are some things money can’t buy. For everything else, there’s MasterCard,” was created in 1997.

4. “Melt in your mouth, not in your hand”

One of the most memorable and long-lasting slogans to come out of the 1950s was this one. Created in 1954 by Rosser Reeves, it reflected the fact that the M&M’s hard candy shell protected the chocolate on the inside of the candy from melting on your hands. Reeves, an advertising whiz who worked with several big companies including Colgate, is also known for his campaign for the Republican Party in the 1950s.

5. “Diamonds are forever”

As popular today as it was when it was first created, this slogan has the distinction of being used as the name of a James Bond movie (Diamonds Are Forever, 1971). The famous De Beers company slogan was actually created in 1948 by Frances Gerety, a copywriter who worked for N.W. Ayer & Sons, Inc., and who is said to have dreamed up one of the most famous company taglines of all time…in her sleep.

As a small business owner, you shouldn’t underestimate the importance of developing a powerful slogan. Don’t forget to protect it by registering a trademark—if you don’t, someone else just might. Why take the chance?

Resources:

The Best Advertising Slogans of All Time According to Digg Users. Rip Empson. Fast Company. September 3, 2008.

The 10 Best Slogans of All Time. Inc.com.

Top 10 Slogans of the Century. AdAge.com.

Wasting Money on Bad Advertising Slogans. Al Ries. AdAge. January 12, 2004.