In this month’s Fast Company, the authors of the column (and book) ‘Made to Stick‘ ” Dan and Chip Heath ” talk about ‘Killing the Slogans Dead.’ I gotta say, while we’ve talked about the dangers of taglines before, Chip and Dan make some great points in light of the ever-changing landscape of communications.
The message goes hand-in-hand with their book, which if you haven’t read it, is all about the power of stories and how to make them ‘stick’ in people’s minds. Let’s face it: very few slogans stick in your head. And how could they when so many companies tire of them and change them with the seasons?
So let’s compare:
Stories live forever. Slogans live until the ad agency gets tired of them.
Stories are real. Slogans are made up.
Stories pull you in. Slogans try and push out a message.
Stories are deep. Slogans are shallow.
Stories are personal. Slogans are impersonal.
Stories are passed on by word of mouth. Slogans are passed on by ads.
Stories are a part of who we are. You don’t tell slogans about your grandfather, or how your parents met, or even how you were treated well at a restaurant. You tell stories.
Some folks feel the need to have slogans. And if it helps them sleep better at night, then that’s great. But I’d rather hear a story about them and make the decision in my own head about what that company means to me instead of a company (that I don’t trust) try and force their ideas of who they are on me.
Look, slogans are a part of the ad world’s history. And I’m not saying that they are the worst thing that’s ever happened. I’m just agreeing with the Made to Stick guys:
How do you know if you’re inadvertently sloganeering? Here’s a take-home test: If you can envision two exclamation points at the end of your idea, it’s a slogan. If you can see it on a mug in Comic Sans font, it’s a slogan. Toss it and start communicating.
When you have a big idea, make it come alive with a story. Make it real, color in some details, let it be something people can care about. Just don’t make it snappy.