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On slogans

On slogans

Murray Raphel

The first glass of Coca-Cola was served on May 8, 1886, at Jacob’s Pharmacy in Atlanta, GA, and sold for five cents. Dr. John Stith Pemberton, a chemist, created the soft drink from a secret formula in a large kettle in his basement.

His sales during the first year were $50. His cost: $70. This was not exactly an auspicious start. Today, Coca-Cola products are consumed at the rate of more than 834 million drinks per any given day.

In the beginning, Pemberton used this slogan for his product: “Drink Coca-Cola.”

In the years that followed, more than 60 different slogans were used. Were they any better, effective or influential in having someone buy Coca-Cola? Here are the changes made through the years: “The standard beverage,” “The drink of quality,” “Meet me at the soda fountain,” “Don’t wear a tired, thirsty face.”

Changes in slogans can be timely and necessary, as expressed in the following, which was authored in 1911 by V.I. Lenin (yes, the same Lenin that founded the Russian Communist Party): “Too often has it happened that, when history has taken a sharp turn, even progressive parties have for some time, been unable to adapt themselves to the new situation and have repeated slogans formerly correct but now [without] meaning.”

Fine. But why change a slogan when it has NOT “lost all meaning” (like Coke’s 60-plus slogan changes) for a product that has prospered for 118 years?

Do any have the same effect and influence of the original? “Drink Coca-Cola” told you the name of the product and what to do with it.

Here’s a basic definition of slogans from the book, “Creative Advertising,” by Charles Whittier: “A slogan should be a statement of such merit about a product or service that is worthy of continuous repetitive advertising; is worthwhile for the public to remember; and is phrased in such a way that the public is likely to remember it.”

If you can craft a slogan to accomplish this definition and use it often enough, you have a great addition to your gallery’s marketing and advertising. In colonial days, a man was known by his profession. The common surname “Smith” came from a blacksmith. A weaver was “Weaver.” A miller, “Miller.” And if your father’s name was John you were known as John’s son, or as “Johnson.”

But what about today? Despite the millions spent by major corporations on slogans, most people don’t know which slogan belongs to what company.

A story in USA Today said, “Among the slogans for 22 of the nation’s biggest marketers, only six were recognized by more than 10 percent of those surveyed.”

There were three slogans that scored almost zero recognition: Circuit City’s “We’re with you,” Kmart’s “The stuff of life;” and Staples’ “That was easy.”

What separates a good slogan from a poor one? David Droga, worldwide executive creative director for the French ad agency Publicis, says slogans work best when they reflect “not only the soul of the brand, but the company itself and its reason for being in business.” Contemporary catch phrases, he says, “just crumble in the dust.”

OK, what does that mean? What should your slogan do for your gallery?

Here are 10 guidelines to consider when creating a slogan for your gallery.

1. Identification

A good slogan should include the name of your business: “Beans means Heinz” or “Tetley makes tea bags make tea.”

I like the Schaefer beer slogan: “The one beer to have when you’re having more than one.” But I prefer Budweiser’s: “When you’ve said Budweiser, you’ve said it all.” Because … you have.

Point to remember: Your competition is always watching and if you have a slogan that can be challenged–it will be.

New York Citibank used the slogan, “The Citi never sleeps,” an extension of the expression of New York being a “City that never sleeps.”

After running this ad for a period of time, the ad agency servicing Citibank was surprised one morning to see a competitive ad in the paper from Chase Manhattan with its new slogan: “We caught the Citi napping”–advertising their higher interest rate on savings.

2. Longevity

Too many businesses give up on their slogans too quickly. That may be just the time many see it for the first time. Maxwell House’s slogan, “Good to the last drop” was first introduced (are you ready for this?) in 1915 and it’s still going strong.

Not so in many other companies. Just when the audience starts to associate the slogan with the name, some senior executive says, “We’ve been using it too long. Let’s change it,” Then it takes another 10 years for people to remember the new slogan.

There is an apocryphal story of a senior executive at Pepsi-Cola many years ago who tired of the company’s famous jingle they were using, memorized and sung by everyone: “Pepsi-Cola hits the spot, 12 full ounces, that’s a lot.”

He asked his account manager of his advertising agency, “How many people do you have working on my account?”

“Fifty six,” said the agency representative.

“Fifty six!” said the executive, “What do they all do?”

“Well,” answered the ad man, “One is working on new ideas for a new slogan. The other 55 are assigned to make sure you don’t change the one you’re using now.”

3. Offer a benefit

“We do a lot of totally ‘custom’ work,” says Betty Newman of Newman Valley Studio in Kodak, TN. “Practically everything we do is one of a kind and custom work for the customer. For several years I used ‘Specializing in framed memories,’ but when caning and antique restoration became a big part of the business, that slogan no longer worked. Our slogan today is, ‘At Newman Valley Studio, we put the custom back in customer.'”

What slogans work best when you have a large and varied selection? Pat Mak from Mak’s Art Studio in Norwalk, OH, just decided on this one: “An original piece of art for everyone’s lifestyle.” Says Pat, “The line is so simple, yet it says it all.”

A similar approach is used by Christine Knoll for her gallery in Chesterfield, MO: “Never ordinary. Never the same.”

4. Differentiation

We wanted to increase business on Saturdays for our retail shops in our location, Gordon’s Alley in Atlantic City. We decided to offer customers a “reason why” to shop with us that day.

We came up with this slogan: “If it’s Saturday, it must be Gordon’s Alley.” We offered special attractions that day, including a New Orleans band, a school choir, and special “Saturday only” sales. The point: If you were thinking of shopping on Saturday, your subconscious would suggest you shop with us that day. Our Saturday business tripled, due in part to the slogan.

Margaret Danielak in Pasadena, CA, does not sell art from a fixed location. She produces innovative art events in alternative venues. These include her home, artists’ homes, high-end wine shops, major medical centers, the commissary at Paramount Pictures in Hollywood … and more.

Her slogan: “DanielakArt–A Gallery Without Walls,” tells you who she is and what she does. “When I tell people my slogan they are captivated by my description. It describes exactly what I do. This enables me to begin a dialogue with them–something that leads to sales.” Visit www.danielakart.com.

5. Memorable

Nobody does it better than Stan Demski. Start has a complete framing workshop in his van and travels to individual and company premises to do their framing on site. His slogan is what he is, “The Traveling Framer.”

6. Positive feelings

A good slogan gives the consumer positive feelings. “We’ve been getting good results with, ‘Helping people proudly display their life treasures,'” says Rollie LaMarche of Picture This Gallery in Sherwood Park, Alberta, Canada. “When someone asks what we do, that’s what we tell them. It works for the picture framing side of our business.”

7. Use proven words

The most used word in slogans is “you”–found in nine out of nine slogans, according to Tim Foster, creator of the Advertising Slogan Hall of Fame.

8. Make a negative a positive

Even negative words can, with a little ingenuity, be converted to something positive, with the best being, “With a name like Smuckers, it has to be good.”

9. Avoid ho-hum slogans used by others

If I see one more, “You’ve tried the rest, now try the best.” Or, “Where excellence is an everyday word.” Or, “Nice people to do business with.” These are actual slogans. I’m committed to NEVER buying those products–whatever they are.

10. Keep it simple

Linda Molloy from Peninsula Gallery in Sidney, BC, Canada, uses this slogan: “If you like art, you’ll love Peninsula Gallery.” This works because it tells you what she sells and where it is.

One word is usually not enough. But, a collection of three separate words can be memorable: “Snap! Crackle! Pop!” (Rice Krispies).

Create your own slogan for a quick reminder of who you are and what you do.

Which brings us to our ending slogan: Finished. L’extremite, Das Ende, El Extremo.

For reprints of this article, contact LaTonya Brumitt at 314-824-5504, or e-mail labrumitt@pfpublish.com.

Murray Raphel is one of the nation’s leading marketing experts and is the author of several business books. Contact him at Raphel Marketing at 609-348-6646, or e-mail murray@raphel.com.

COPYRIGHT 2005 Pfingsten Publishing, LLC

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