How to Create a Catchy Slogan

A great product needs a great tagline, so 'Just do it'

Creative Process
Getty Images / Gary Burchell

A great product slogan differentiates your brand. Even more importantly, it makes your brand memorable. GE "brings good things to light." Motel 6 will always "leave the lights on for you." And a whispered "Zoom, zoom!" means Mazda.

Granted, all those companies had big budgets to bring notice to their brands. But the six straightforward rules below can help any entrepreneur come up with a tagline that will boost a brand's recognition.

Make It Memorable

When you first heard the above slogans, what about them made them stick in your mind? Or consider these two examples, both used by KFC: "Finger-lickin' good!" and "Today tastes so good!" The first references good-old American slang for gooey but great food. The second frankly makes no sense.

The best slogans mimic a common phrase in the English language. Start with a familiar phrase that describes a benefit of your product, then tweak the phrase to make it work. 

Define a Key Benefit

Your slogan should contain a key benefit of the product or service you offer. Give people a reason to associate it with your company or product. What's the best thing about your product or service? What sets your business apart from your competitors? Try to weave this into one of the common phrases you've come up with.

Modesty is not a virtue here. Carlsberg Beer used to be marketed under the slogan “Probably the best beer in the World." Probably? They later changed it to a more emphatic line: “That calls for a Carlsberg." In other words, this beer is good enough for a celebration.

Differentiate the Brand

Your slogan should differentiate your brand as well as your product or service. It should bring out the quality of the product or service that makes it superior to its competitors. The mattress maker Sealy went with "like sleeping on a cloud."

Solidify the Brand

Your branding obviously must include the brand name or making it memorable does no good. Granted, some of the best slogans don't include the product name. Think Nike's "Just do it." Consider the product name, slogan, logo, and even packaging as one cohesive marketing package.

Give It Some Zing

Does your slogan have a ring to it? The rhythm of the tagline will help it stick in the memories of those who read it or hear it. For example: "Melts in your mouth, not in your hand." Okay, it's not Shakespeare, but you know it's M&M'S.

Make an Emotional Impact

If you can, make it warm and fuzzy. Motel 6 will "leave the lights on for you," and that could make you want to snuggle in somewhere welcoming and comfy at day's end. Burger King will let you have it your way, because your way is the best.

But maybe your product or service doesn't lend itself to warm and fuzzy. Maybe it's exciting instead. It gets the adrenaline going. Your slogan needs some of Mazda's "Zoom, zoom." 

Either way, you're eliciting an emotional response from those who hear or read it. That positive vibe is critical. 

Be Patient and Test-Drive It 

In all likelihood, you won't hit on the perfect slogan right off the bat. You may have to play around with a few ideas. Try them out on friends and acquaintances. If they smile when they hear it, you may have a hit.