SLOGANS

Make America Quiet Again.A slogan is a concise memorable phrase that repetitively expresses an idea or purpose of an organization or brand and which aims at persuading members of the public or a target group into something. The word slogan came from the Scottish Gaelic and originally meant a “battle-cry, or a rallying cry.” In those days slogans were used as passwords at nighttime to ensure the recognition of a person or in a battle to differentiate friendly warriors from the enemy.

Today, the application of slogans is different. They are forceful and catchy utterances that rally people to behave in a certain way (like to buy a product). With the pragmatic function of stimulating people to perform some action, one of history’s most famous one-liners “That’s one small step for man, one giant leap for mankind” cannot be a slogan because Neil Armstrong summed up what had been achieved rather than called on people to do something. Of course, the astronaut’s words can inspire many of us for greater deeds too, but it’s already a matter if interpreting what he said.

Marketing slogans are often called tag-lines in the United States or strap-lines in the United Kingdom. On the European continent they use the terms baselines, signatures, claims or pay-offs.

In commercial contexts slogans emphasize the benefits of a product, they are creative and are supposed to evoke something personal and positive among the audience. These three factors are a must for every slogan if the slogan claims to be successful. There’s one secret, though: the slogan will be more liked if the name of the brand is left out of the phrase. On my way to the office I pass a big trade-and-entertainment complex with a huge advertisement of the Swiss watch-maker Raymond Weil on the façade: PRECISION IS MY INSPIRATION. I know that I will never buy the brand: the digital clock on my mobile phone is quite enough for me. But, as a teacher, I value punctuality, the state of precision and accuracy. If the name of the watch-maker had been added to the slogan, it would have limited its scope of application. But without the words “Raymond Weil” I can easily build the phrase Precision is My Inspiration into my philosophy of life – even if I do not buy the watch.

There’s a story behind the unofficial slogan of the computer-product company I work for. In the autumn of 2004 the presidential election in Ukraine was rigged. Partially, it was done through doctoring the data on the central election server. Many businesses and organizations protested on the streets of the capital. Our company demonstrated with the slogan Our Servers Don’t Lie. You may notice the figurative language in this slogan. Other stylistic means can be alliteration and rhyme: Put a Tiger in Your Tank (Exxon/ Esso), or You’ll wonder Where the yellow went, when you brush your teeth with Pepsodent. (Pepsodent). Some slogans mimic a conversational style: It’s fingerlickin’ good (Kentucky Fried Chicken), That’ll Do Nicely (American Express), Just Do It (Nike).

Slogans are an essential part of all campaigns – political, safety, protest, health, environmental, and so on. One of the first steps in any campaign is to think up a good slogan, and some companies run regular competitions to obtain fresh ideas from the public or their employees.

Long ago I taught at high school with a highly competitive admission. I asked my students to think of slogans to advertise the school. There were two utterances which I liked: ON TO THE FUTURE AND BEYOND, and TEACHERS TEACH HOW TO LEARN, LEARNERS LEARN HOW TO TEACH.

 

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