Long live slogans! Why a slogan revival is on the way

Slogans are an important aid to branding and advertising engagement, but their use has been declining. Here's why slogans should return to your advertising.
08 August 2022
Slogans in advertising
Wyn Jones

Global Knowledge Manager, Creative & Media

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Slogans are catchy summaries of what your brand is all about. In these fast-moving times when gaining consumer attention is becoming an art form, why are these powerful tools that act as an aide-memoire for your brand and help to get your brand noticed, in decline?

Why has slogan use in advertising declined?

Historically, slogans were a big part of advertising. In 2014 Kantar’s Link ad testing database shows 74% of ads contained a slogan. They were often associated with big, memorable brands that invested heavily in them and used them across campaigns. Often for many years. Brands ran competitions asking consumers to think up catchy phrases about what their brand meant to them, then used this inspiration to evolve into their advertising slogans. Now just half of the ads we test include slogans.

TV ads containing slogans or website urls(%)

Chart showing the declining use of slogans in creative content

Source: Kantar Link database


Most ads using a slogan (85%) show it as written text. This could be part of the problem. Is it the case that in de-cluttering end frames, the slogan has been lost and deprioritized?

The evolution of the website URL, which in theory, contained all the information you need with respect to the brand, may have been partly to blame for this decline. Along with the issue of ‘too much writing on the screen,’ is there space for a written slogan once the website URL and various hashtags are added? Possibly not, and hence this may be the reason why only half of all ads globally now contain a slogan.

By channel, we see 66% of TV ads using slogans, 48% of print and outdoor ads and 44% of digital ads. We see further variance across digital ads, where 48% of YouTube ads contain them, compared to only 34% of Facebook ads.

There are many ways to include a slogan. Around three-quarters of ads include slogans that are voiced over but singing the slogan or including it into a jingle can be a highly effective way of not only getting your brand noticed but instilling it into people’s memory. Many of us still remember simple ad slogans from our childhood. Those that were part of a catchy jingle are embedded in our memories forever, like the infamous ‘For mash get smash’ ad from the UK in the 70s.

How slogans are used in ads

Chart showing how slogans are used in advertising

Source: Kantar Link database

How can slogans help with advertising effectiveness?

It seems only logical that slogans help with branding. However, simply including a slogan is not enough. To really help with branding, other factors are important, like including the brand name in the slogan and using it repeatedly, so it becomes an established branding cue. When these additional factors are included in TV ads, we see a +6-point increase in branding. How the slogan appears is also important. When the slogan is also sung, we see a +17-point increase in branding.

We know the power music can have in advertising. When ads also include music with a jingle or slogan, branding is higher still, with a +25-point increase from average. Most importantly, this doesn’t come at a cost. This set of ads that show a +25-point increase in branding, also show a +19-point increase in impact, (partly driven by this increase in branding), a +10-point increase in involvement and a +6-point increase in understanding, with enjoyment still maintaining average levels.

Digital ads also see a +14-point increase in brand recognition when they include a slogan that has been used before with the brand name. Again, this doesn’t come at a cost. These same ads show increased ad distinctiveness +14, enjoyment +13 and involvement +15.

Simply including the brand name in the slogan can be enough for print and outdoor ads which show a +10-point increase in branding. For print and outdoor ads, a branded slogan also helps with clarification, with a +15-point increase in understanding.

The ‘Unmistakably Tanqueray’ slogan is a great example of a brand adapting its slogan to help with the understanding of its new message. The ‘unbelievably alcohol-free’ Tanqueray ad was one of this year’s Kantar Creative Effectiveness Award print/outdoor winners.

Kantar Creative Effectiveness Awards: winning print/outdoor ad

Kantar’s Creative Effectiveness Awards print winner

What is the future of slogans?

Although the slogan can be seen as a little old fashioned, our evidence suggests they hold value. In a multi-channel world, linking your slogan across your campaign could now be more effective than ever. A vital key to creating fame and fortune for your brand.

Newer channels like TikTok have created opportunities to evolve the traditional brand slogan into something that has morphed into a new form of interactivity. The hashtag challenge has become a way for brands to promote themselves, such as Chipotle’s #GuacDance. Well known influencers on the platform are used to promote a challenge and prizes are offered to trigger user generated TikTok content, which brings brand awareness and promotion.

By incorporating the brand name in the hashtag, like Calvin Klein’s #MyCalvins, which is used to also convey some of the ethos of the brand, you can push the limits further. A challenge that is hashtagged with a snappy slogan, containing both the brand name and summarizes what your brand is about, will almost certainly aid memory and awareness. And if that challenge ‘blows up’, a brand can stay top of mind for many years to come.

When the same slogan is used across all campaign touchpoints, awareness and memorability can’t fail to enhance brand affinity further. In many ways, the slogan competitions of the past are now the user-generated content of the future.

Future opportunities for brand promotion also lie in the speed at which brands can react to popular new memes that can appear from nowhere and go viral in just a few hours. Picking up on a relevant meme that fits your brand could be another route to instant fame.

However, fame can also bring controversy, the recent #Gentleminions craze, which led to fans of the ‘Despicable Me’ franchise dressing in suits to attend the cinema screening of the latest Minion movie, led to antisocial behavior in cinemas and ticket refunds.

Getting the most out of slogan use

Regardless of the route you take to convey your slogan, ensure that it neatly encompasses what your brand is about. Slogans can help your brand get noticed and remembered. They can be a quick way for consumers to decide if your brand is for them. Conveying what your brand is about and your message in just a few simple words is by no means easy, but a well thought out and catchy slogan can carry a brand for many years.

In a media world where campaign advertising needs to be adapted across the multitude of new channels available, the traditional slogan can be that glue that binds all your brand’s advertising together, adding strength to each touchpoint and your campaign effectiveness as a whole. Kantar’s AdReaction study ‘The Art of Integration’ showed evidence that consumers found logos and slogans to be the single most helpful way for them to link together advertising for one brand across different places.

You can test your ads quickly and cost-effectively at any stage of creative development to make sure your slogans hit the mark. Check they are memorable, fit with and are working efficiently for your brand. Ensure they convey the right feel and tone and succinctly summarize what you want to say about your brand.

We’d love to discuss how you can get the most out of using slogans, so please get in touch to find out more.

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