The art of brand language. Slogans, Taglines, and Mission Statements.

Slogans, Mission Statements and Taglines. We all think we understand what they are, but do we really?

Is McDonald’s “I’m lovin it” a tagline, or a slogan? If you guessed the slogan, you would be sorely mistaken. The language we use around our brands is critical to telling its story and selling it to our customers and stakeholders. You might think your mission statement is just a puff piece that every business is meant to have, but one that’s been executed well can significantly shape and define your company’s internal culture.

Similarly, a lot of businesses will slap together a slogan and shoe-horn it into some of their marketing, without any consideration for what it actually means when tied in with the rest of the collateral.

There are a lot of mixed opinions on terminology when it comes to this sort of language, so here at Emroy Creative Group, we’re here to set the record straight. Here are the three core types of brand language and what each of them actually means.

Just do it.

Taglines are the little phrases at the end of branding pieces that reinforce that company’s identity. They should be short and powerful, the bit of copy that your customers would recognise first. Think Nike’s Just do it or Woolworths’ The Fresh Food People. Now, a lot of people would argue that these phrases are actually slogans. They are wrong. A slogan should be your business’s ‘why’, where you tell your audience why they should pick your product or service, what you do, or why you do it. Just Do It, or The Fresh Food People don’t really tell you why these companies exist. Oh, Woolworths has fresh food? Well, knock me over with a feather.

Like a clever punchline, this brief statement is used in marketing to create a memorable brand and can often change over the years with the advent of new campaigns. Your business’s tagline should, of course, be relevant to its values and what it does, but at the end of the day, it’s not yours why. It’s a brand marker, short and memorable so that consumers can recall your brand more easily.

But why?

In just one sentence, the slogan needs to convey your ‘why’. Why should customers spend their money with you? Basically, in the context of a goal or point of differentiation, what is it that your brand does? While it should be concise, your slogan should be just long enough to evoke some emotion, while also identifying what it is that the company offers.

In Nike’s case, their slogan is actually “Inspiration and Innovation for Every Athlete in the World”. Just doing it doesn’t tell you anything about the company. Outside of the ingrained brand association that Nike has created between them and their tagline, there is absolutely no way you could draw ‘just doing it’ and ‘shoes’ together. Inspiration and Innovation, however, do. What does Nike do?  They develop innovative shoes for every athlete that will help inspire them to achieve better.

Another well-celebrated slogan is FedEx’s “When it absolutely, positively has to be there overnight.” Straight away you understand their point of difference and they’re why. Why are they different? They’ll make sure your stuff gets there when you need it to. Why? Because you need it to be. That is an effective slogan.

Your mission, should you choose to accept it.

When I think of mission Statements, I generally think of this scene from Daddy Day Care. It’s a long-winded, wanky document full of buzzwords and irrelevant jargon that no one understands and no one other than senior management cares about. This is not what a Mission statement should be. At all. Instead, a Mission statement should inform and inspire the organisation from within, giving employees and other stakeholders the why and how of your business. While the Mission statement can be shared with your customers, this statement is most effective when designed to be an internal document; one that is created in collaboration with all of the decision-makers of the brand, not just one department.

Taking another look at Woolworths, we can see that their Mission statement is currently “We bring a little good to everyone, every day”.

So why is this a Mission statement and not a Vision statement or a slogan? Well, if you look at other Woolworth’s collateral (such as their Annual Reports) the idea of bringing a little good – good food, good prices, and good acts – is consistent with current company-wide goals and motivations. Everyone working at Woolworths can bring a little good to everyone, every day. Whether you’re the Managing Director or a service cashier, everyone can make someone else’s life a bit better.

Basically, it clearly defines the company objectives and how they go about fulfilling them. It tells you succinctly what Woolworths does in today’s market, and why. It doesn’t get carried away with exotic language and hollow sentences; instead telling its audience very clearly what they believe. Woolworths wants to bring a little good to everyone, every day. It doesn’t map out an exact strategy, determine who ‘everyone’ is, or any other super-specific details. It just tells you their overarching mission. Bringing a little good to everyone, every day.

In a similar stream of Mission statements we’ve got Facebook’s, which is “Facebook’s mission is to give people the power to share and make the world more open and connected.”  Again, short and to the point. What does Facebook want to do? Give people the power to share and make the world more connected. Straight away you understand what they’ve set out to achieve and broadly, how they’re achieving it.

To the unfamiliar eye, brand language can often feel like a waffle thought up by someone trying to justify their paycheque. Often times this is true. However, when it’s done correctly, the right brand language can significantly influence the trajectory of an organisation and its campaigns.

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