Slogans don’t come easy.
They have got to be brief, catchy and relevant to the product. Many have hit that nail on the head – ‘Because You’re Worth It’, ‘You Either Love It or Hate it’, and ‘Never Knowingly Undersold’.
But what about those genius campaigns where the slogan has done so well, it’s become an expression within the English language. For example, Ronseal’s ‘does exactly what it says on the tin’. The definition of simple yet effective.
The phrase was coined in 1994 by advertising agency HHCL and even they could not predict its success. In fact, they were convinced the opposite was true and they would be ridiculed by their peers in the industry and lose any future business. And yet, here it is today, still going strong.
Why? because it’s a phrase that can change the way people think, decide and behave.
“BO” and “Athlete’s Foot” are both phrases that were coined by the advertising industry. So was, designated driver, created by the Harvard Alcohol Project in 1988 when a group of experts realised that creating a behaviour is difficult when there isn’t already a name or phrase for it. Even Hollywood got in on the action to try and combat drink driving, with shows such as Cheers and L.A. Law using the phrase in their scripts and making it mainstream.
It is heavily debated whether our vocabulary (or lack thereof) can enable or limit our thinking and this is known as Linguistic Relativity. We wouldn’t notice the effects of this (we tend to leave that to our subconscious), but the experts do. For example, before the phrase “downsizing” came to be we would see moving to a smaller place as more of a compromise rather than a choice.
The phrase behavioural economics, essentially just another term for behavioural science, is important to those in marketing because it allows them to describe what they do using the language of science, adding weight and authority to the mission for behavioural change.
This article is based on an original piece written by Rory Sutherland.
Photo (cc) See-Ming Lee on Flickr. Some rights reserved.