What Happened to Small Businesses Slogans?

Building Brand Recognition

Just Do it is” one of the world’s most recognized slogans. Everyone knows it’s Nike. But what if Nike had no slogan? Or what if Nike’s slogan was more like “we make the best shoes”?  Not very believable, distinctive, emotive, or memorable.  

Slogans are essential to an effective verbal branding strategy. Major corporations like Nike, Apple, MacDonalds, and State Farm have slogans so identifiable that they can stand on their own. They are an integral part of the brand’s recognition. Of course, they have the resources to put behind creating a memorable slogan. But any small business can equally benefit from an effective slogan. Resources are not the issue. So what’s holding small businesses back?

Missing . . . Small Business Slogans

We conducted a brand recognition study among small businesses in a home service industry segment. Although the study was limited in scope it still provided insights that we believe were indicative of other small businesses.

80% of the businesses in the study failed to take advantage of meaningful slogans.

40% of the businesses had no slogan. Unfortunately, these were the same businesses that lacked any meaningful name recognition. A distinctive slogan could have helped overcome the lack of distinction in the name.

Another 40% of the businesses had slogans that were generic, meaningless, and forgettable. A slogan like “We won’t compromise with quality” adds no recognition value to the brand.

Slogans that contributed to brand recognition incorporated messages that were relevant to the business and distinctive in the category. “Improving Life Through Comfort” was a good example of a slogan that conveyed a benefit-driven brand promise. This resonates with customers because it’s relevant to the value they receive. But these kinds of slogans were the exception.

Apparently many small businesses have not placed the same importance on a slogan as they have their name or logo. That’s an unfortunate missed opportunity. Every small business that has limited resources needs every tool they can get to reinforce their brand.

A Case for Slogans

Slogans are an essential component of any branding system. They work hand-in-hand with the name, logo, and other messaging priorities. What works for the Fortune 500 companies will work for small businesses. The advantages are undeniable.

Competitive Distinction

The challenge for any small business is how they achieve and maintain competitive distinction. That’s particularly important in a crowded category. And especially important in a segment where consumers view products and services as generic. Slogans provide an opportunity to stand out from their competitors by highlighting something that is unique to them. The name alone may not be able to do that. A slogan can more readily speak to the market and create a stronger emotional connection.

Sustainable Memorability

The last thing a small business wants to do is invest in a slogan that customers forget. The whole point of branding is to be top of mind when a customer is considering a product or service. You want customers to know you exist and what advantage you have over a competitor. The more meaningful and relevant that the slogan is the more likely people will remember it. Memorability is one of the best investments that a brand can make.

Meaningful Reinforcement

A slogan that contributes no meaningful value add to the brand is just as bad as no slogan at all. We saw in our recognition study that many small businesses employed slogans that were so generic they could be anyones. Claims about being best, affordable, only, trusted, and locally owned fall flat on saying anything meaningful. They lack authenticity and credibility. In fact, they detract from the brand rather than reinforce it. Meaningful slogans need to communicate qualities and attributes that are truly unique and more emotive. “A Neighborly Company” is a more effective way to say we’re local by playing on the positive perceptions of “neighborly.”

“Effective slogans speak to consumers, investors, employees, and other key stakeholders, creating a feeling of familiarity and comfort around a brand.”

The Psychology of Slogans.

Minimal Investment

A change in the name or logo of a company can be time-consuming, complicated, and expensive. But a slogan can be a simple low-cost investment that can be easily and quickly implemented. With some thought, a look at your competitive environment, and some research you can take this on yourself. Or you can always retain the services of a branding consultant as a modest one-off project. A copywriter is another approach. It’s one of the best investments you can make to amplify your brand.

Make Your Brand Stand Out

Small businesses face many challenges. And unfortunately, the failure rate is high. A slogan isn’t going to solve all of your branding needs. But the right slogan is an opportunity you can easily take advantage of. It is one essential way to make your brand stand out. That’s how any great brand works.

Look for the Acuity Brand Recognition Study to learn more about brand recognition insights.

The goal of How Brand Works is to share our experience, perspectives and philosophy on the different facets of branding intended to enable an effective brand management strategy.