Friday, 15 May 2015

– how world’s greatest taglines, slogans and payoffs were created
                                                                                                            By C. Celestine Chukwu

McDonald’s trills, “I’m loving it.” This ecstatic line was inspired by the big curvy “M” that is the McDonald’s logo. The “I’m” in the tagline resembles the logo’s “M” in pronunciation; so “I’m loving it” could well have read “M loving it.” Get it?
The greatest campaign taglines, claims, slogans, payoffs etc. in the world are produced by working with the brand name. Most creatives in this part of the world have not yet fully caught on to this. One cannot blame them though; the technique’s application is subliminal - its relevance might not be apparent on a SWOT test! Industry experts will vouch however that the most effective communications in marketing works subliminally. Creatives in the UK and America have, whether knowingly or unknowingly, been using the brand name-inspired model for decades in coming up with IMC signatures for products, services and organizations. It has as much to do with the rhythm of the syllables in the brand name – the way they would roll off the tongue and caress the ear – as with the actual letters (the consonants and vowels) in the name. For a tagline to work, one needs to appreciate the rhythm in words the way a poet weighs the rhythm underlying a line of poetry and measures it in iambic metres.
AT&T, the American telecoms colossus, once urged us to “Reach out & touch someone.” Now, this was quite clever. The “and” conjunction neatly divides the slogan into two parts - as it does the brand name. Then, and this is where it gets genius, the letter “t” ends the first part of the slogan and begins the second part, just as it does in the brand name! Amazing.
Electronics giant, Philips’ campaign signs off with the line “Sense and Simplicity.” Beyond the obvious nod to Jane Austen’s all-time classic novel Sense and Sensibility, the word “Simplicity” has the vowel “i” occurring four times, and it is the only vowel there. “Philips” has the same vowel occurring twice, and it is again the only vowel. The sound of that “i” makes the brand name to reverberate in the tagline.
One of the simplest and best examples currently of the above-outlined technique is the LG signature “Life’s Good.” “Life’s Good” directly translates the brand name LG from two initials to two words and conveys a brand promise. The previous LG payoff was “Digitally Yours.” The word “Digitally” has the “L” and “G” sounds embedded in it, so the word simultaneously projects the brand name as well as the brand’s proposition: digital technology. This helps brand recall - whether the audience is aware of the subtle use of language or not. Awareness of such subtlety makes one not overly surprised that leading mobile phone manufacturer Nokia is “Connecting People.” That phrase “Connecting People” simultaneously communicates a brand claim and reflects the brand name, Nokia. In the word “connecting,” the first syllabic sound “con...” is the reverse sound of “Nok...,” which is the first syllabic sound in the brand name. See?
So Skye Bank is “Saying YES to your needs”? The operative word in that claim is “YES.” Notice that the three letters Y-E-S are present in “Skye.” Examples abound on the local scene. The “BA” in UBA probably influenced that brand’s new positioning statement of “Africa’s global bank.” Who doesn’t know that the word “you” conjures the associative “me”? In fact, It is an association so compelling that Indomie, the leader in the instant noodles market, is signing off its current campaign with “Super taste. Super you.”
I will not even mention the obviously routine examples like Globacom’s “Glo. With pride,” i.e. “glow with (Nigerian) pride” or Close Up’s “The closer the better.” There, I’ve already mentioned them, haven’t I? Now, let me redeem myself with one that’s not so obvious – as a matter of fact, it is decidedly abstruse. The IT products company 3M (now Imation) once adopted the tagline “Innovation.” The word had three “n” letters in it. Now, “n” sounds a lot like “m” doesn’t it? “3M or 3N - well what’s it gonna be then?” That’s a little rhyme yours truly composed for the occasion. Neat, eh?
Now, where there is rhythm, rhyme is usually not far away. Consider Haig’s signoff to its premium Scotch whisky public, “Don’t be vague, Ask for Haig.” How about “My goodness, my Guinness”? FedEx used to roll with “Relax, it’s FedEx;” brand associations of promptness and guaranteed safety combine with the syllabic similarities between “FedEx” and “relax” at the heart of that construct.
And now for a personal favourite. KFC’s “finger-licking good” was a coup. It captured the brand promise and incorporated the “K,” “F” and “C” consonant sounds in a catchphrase that already enjoyed universal usage and acceptance. “Hello Moto.” Motorola’s payoff is heavy on the “o” sound - it occurs three times (as it does in the brand name) and the “...lo” reverses the “...ol...” in “Motorola.”
 “The best a man can get” for Gillette razors has the strategically placed “get” mimicking the brand name.  Did you enjoy “Heinz meanz beanz” with your baked beans back in the day?  Not only did they remind us that their business is beans, they made us know that they "mean business!" Perfect composition.
Television channel UPN used to urged Americans to “turn it up.” Note the “up” and “n” in the slogan subtly drawing you back to the brand name. Video games giant, Nintendo challenged us in the late 1990s to “Get N or Get out” – with “N,” of course, standing for “Nintendo.” The premise: if you are not playing with your Nintendo indoors, you had better seek your fun outdoors. The print and television ads were situational reflections of that premise.
Legendary investment bank Merrill Lynch once stated it was “bullish on America.” Note the similar sounding “Lynch” and “...lish” and also the double “l” that appears in both slogan and brand name. This tagline was used at a particularly bullish period in the economic cycle (circa 1990s). Merrill Lynch went bankrupt in 2008 as one of the high profile victims of the global financial meltdown - hard to imagine any American bank using that tagline anytime soon!
Naturally, we have saved the best for last. The masterful “It can only be Heineken” campaign that had the beer as the star in a series of implausible scenarios such as an empty highway in the middle of rush hour was built around the brand name. The three syllables “only be” match the three syllables in “Heineken,” with the first syllable in both ending in the consonant “n.” Notice how “can” sounds so much like “...ken.” Genius!
The purpose of a slogan, tagline, payoff, claim, strap line, strap, end line, signature, signoff - whichever term you wish to use - is to lend an advert or any other form of marketing communication the memorability that guarantees brand recall in the audience. It is not by accident that slogans occur next to the logo in print and audiovisual ads; slogans are like written logos: they are meant to stick! On radio, they are like vocalized logos, an aural pintsized “picture” for the listener to take away.
The author Anthony Foster succinctly described the goal of a slogan as “If you don’t get anything else, get this!” There lies the challenge; in the body of the advert, you had some latitude for expression, but at the payoff, you’re at the moment of truth; it is like a capsule of the entire message. They either get it or they totally don’t. You have very little time and space to communicate the brand’s values in a way that will resound in the consciousness of the audience until they are exposed to the advert or other material again, and on the strength of your slogan, your audience may decide if your message has a takeaway or if it is merely a “leave behind.”

C. Celestine Chukwu is the author of Nigeria’s first ever dictionary of colloquialisms, A Dictionary of Nigerian Pidgin & Slang.

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