Tuesday, June 28, 2005

Common Slogan Writing Problems

After reading hundreds of slogans written by the public, we've identified some common pitfalls of novice slogan-writers.

Common Slogan-entry problems:

1. Too Long! If you can't fit your slogan in the provided-for space, don't use shorthand -- rewrite it! Unless you are John Updike, try to keep it to one sentence. Also, if you have multiple ideas, input them as different entries.

2. Using a celebrity name. This is known as an endorsement. Endorsement suggestions can be made in the suggestion/marketing contest.

3. Trashing the competition rather than promoting the product: "Because (Competitor) Sucks!" is not a great slogan idea.

4. Recycling old ideas or cliches. I don't want to point fingers or name names. You know who you are.

5. Using "generic" terms: For the MP3 player naming contest, we've received many submissions like "The Music Player." That's like McDonald's coming out with a new sandwich called "The Hamburger."

6. Using a variation of a competitor's trademark: Let me pose a question: If you were the makers of the iPod, would you sue a competitor who came out with a digital music player called the "Eye Pod?"

Things that are acceptable, but can be traps:

1. Rhyming. Maybe this is just my pet peeve. (Besides the expression "pet peeve.") Sometimes rhyming works. Sometimes. Mostly, it's just obvious, lazy, & boring. "You're in Luck at Starbucks!" Gimme a break.

2. Using the name of the product in the slogan. This usually goes hand in hand with the rhymers. Try this exercise: Write your slogan with the brand name included. Now remove the brand name. Does it still work?

3. Using incredibly esoteric references. Congratulations, you received a Masters in Ancient History. But very few people are going to appreciate your reference to the Sumerian goddess of cleanliness in your Tide slogan.

Of course, all rules can be broken if you do it well! One of my favorite slogans for the coffee chain contest, for Dunkin' Donuts, is "Just Dunk It!" Not original, but still great....


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