Credit: PBS.org

4 Tips For Crafting A Slogan For Your Business

Make a lasting connection with your customers with a slogan that’s all about them, not you.

What’s your company’s slogan?

When your business has a major brand, the answer comes easily:

“The Ultimate Driving Machine” — BMW

“Think Different” — Apple

“Just Do It” — Nike

You get the point.

However, when posed to a startup or small business, “what’s your company’s slogan?” can often be met with an “ummm” or a shrug of the shoulders. This isn’t unusual, especially for new startups. You’re still figuring out so many aspects of your business that taking the time to create a slogan might have to wait. For other businesses, it might just be fine to copy someone else’s slogan or not even have one at all.

So if businesses can live without it, the question is, does your business even need a slogan?

The answer is: Yes!

An effective slogan can build more brand awareness than most paid marketing and advertising channels.

If you need proof of this, look no further than the 2016 U.S. Presidential Election.

I’m not going to get into the politics or controversies surrounding this election. I’m just looking at the two competing slogans of the campaign:

Make America Great Again

vs.

I’m With Her

Donald Trump won the battle of slogans, and with it, the election itself. How? By focusing his messaging around the “customer”. “Make America Great Again” was all about the American voter, the very “customer” whom Trump needed in order to win.

Contrast this with Hillary Clinton’s slogan, “I’m With Her”, which was all about…well…her. Clinton may have had a thorough understanding of her target voter demographics, but her messaging just wasn’t about them. You could almost hear voters think “Her? What about me?”.

“Make America Great Again” was so effective that it enabled the Trump campaign to overcome a better financed competitor who was, objectively speaking, better qualified for the job .

Does this mean your slogan can compensate for an inferior product, or insufficient capital? Not exactly. What it does mean, however, is that a simple and well thought out slogan can earn you a great deal of enthusiasm and goodwill from your customers, and customers are the lifeblood of your business.

If you’re trying to come up with a slogan for your business, here are a few tips that I’ve picked up from observing businesses for decades, and from building a startup of my own:

1. Keep It Simple — No product has a single feature, or a single benefit. Don’t complicate things by trying to get your entire value proposition into a single slogan. Choose words that your customer can connect to their wants and needs. Avoid ambiguity or confusion, lest you wind up sending the wrong message to your customers.

2. It’s ALWAYS About Your Customer — This is important for many reasons. A slogan that is focused on your customer not only enables your brand to build a stronger connection with them, it also gets your entire company focused on the customer. It’s absolutely fine to have motivational quotes and slogans around the office, but start with a customer centric slogan that reminds your team who’s really “the boss”.

3. It’s Not Written In Stone — Be willing to change your slogan and test different ones. At CoLoadX we’re building a platform for international shipping. We are committed to providing greater opportunity and visibility to our customers, but “opportunity” and “visibility” aren’t in our slogan. They’re too abstract to help make a connection with our customers. Instead we’ve been using “Ocean Freight Made Easy!” as our slogan, because that’s exactly what we do. However, I also know that as we continue to focus and refine our business model, we will likely change our slogan too.

4. Copy the Masters — No, I’m not suggesting that you plagiarize your slogan. But you should learn from the success of others. If there’s a slogan you love because it gets you excited about buying from or working with that brand, then you should study the ways in which that company handles its messaging.

Personally I’ve always felt that BMW’s “Ultimate Driving Machine” was a gutsy slogan to adopt. While it has succeeded in eliciting an emotional response and connection with customers, it could have backfired on BMW. People tend to have a more “personal” connection with their cars and the idea of calling it a “driving machine” did risk weakening that connection for BMW customers.

Using a slogan may not sit high on your list of things to get done for your business. Some of you may even find slogans to be tacky or too “salesy”. However, when you look at your slogan as a way to speak to your customers and as a tool to focus your business as well, it becomes clear that you need a slogan today.

Fauad Shariff is Co-Founder and CEO of CoLoadX the platform for the international ocean shipping and logistics industry. You can read more of his posts on logistics, B2B ecommerce and international trade on the CoLoadX Blog.