Why are classic slogans dying out?

Why are classic slogans dying out?

Blame fragmented media spending and hashtags

Slogans, taglines and topline messages are disappearing. Mergers and brand overhauls have picked them off one-by-one – replacing them with generic alternatives, or dropping the format altogether. Highbrook is all for modernisation, but finding a message and sticking to it is a powerful thing.

There’s not much formula. A slogan can be cheerful, professional, reassuring, provocative. The key is to commit to your message in the long term. Slogans become strong through repetition.

HSBC’s now-shelved “The world’s local bank” put a smile on your face, bringing warmth and familiarity to a colossal company. Looking back, the actual words are not that special, but keeping it on campaigns for almost 10 years was a fantastic move.

With the 1996 slogan “Good things come to those who wait”, Guinness managed to make the lengthier pouring time for its stout a piece of timeless counsel. It took its own advice and stuck with it.

Cadbury’s “Glass and a half” is so beloved that choc execs had to publicly deny rumours they were canning it. Marmite continues to adapt its “Love it or hate it” as tastes change. IBM adopted the “Think” tagline in the 1910s and still uses it for events today.

Now, many slogans are indistinct. For every famed tagline, there are several that could be for anything. We’ve compiled six taglines for six brands. See if you can match them. Answers at the end of this newsletter.

Here are the answers. How did you do? You may have managed a couple. But the whole six is quite the challenge – this unfortunately speaks to the state of snappy top-line messaging. Either the tagline is changed every year with the start of a new campaign or it lacks distinctiveness.

Distinctiveness was, is and will be the single most crucial quality. In a marketplace overwhelmed by AI-generated content and cheap, generic manufacturing, standing out will be ever more important. The right slogan is the simplest and fastest way to do that.

So is the death of the slogan to do with the decline of radio, print and television advertising? A fragmented media spend simply does not need a slogan. The need for generic hashtags on social is another factor.

Despite all this, perfecting a slogan is something well worth your time. Without one you’re missing the opportunity to go out on a high, to leave people with a lasting impression. Settle on something and commit to it long term.

Good ROI comes to those who wait, love it or hate it.

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