Bad Slogans

I saw a bad slogan the other day. It came from the internal client of my client. “They want to use this slogan in a mailing,” my client told me. I didn’t immediately say anything. Later I voiced my reservations.

Like a lot of bad slogans, the idea behind it had merit. It had the look and phrasing of a smart, clever slogan. But it ended with an audience-offending clang.

The internal client was apparently blind to it. Or a little too pleased with their seemingly clever new campaign slogan. Or probably both.

This happens all too often for many reasons. One reason, I suspect (because I’ve been guilty of it), is that people become enamored with their early efforts. There are a lot of half-baked slogans–smart beginnings with tons of potential. But, like one bad note at the symphony, a misplaced or wrong word or phrase can do much more harm than good.

The fact is, slogans and taglines are among the toughest creative jobs. They seem easy enough, a few well-chosen words that express something memorable to a target audience. Instead, they’re difficult and time-consuming to perfect, much like writing a great ad headline.

The tried-and-true approach is to simply write a lot of them. Lean toward simplicity and clarity. Don’t try too hard to be clever. Refine your best efforts. Then show them around and invite feedback. To produce good creative, focus on and stay true to a sound creative process.

While close counts in horseshoes and hand grenades, it’s often disastrous for slogans and taglines. A little off might as well be a galaxy off.


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