A good slogan (also known as a good tagline) is a cornerstone of an enduring brand. To be good, a slogan needs to be memorable. An important aspect of branding is to ensure your brand is remembered by your target customers and customers. A recent Cornell University research paper provides insights into how phrasing impacts on memorability. While the Cornell research study used quotations from 1,000 movies to examine memorability, the findings are worth considering in evaluating why some brand’s slogans and taglines are memorable and some are not.
Key Slogan Takeaways
The Cornell research study found that there were distinctive features of memorable phrases. In the study, the two key features of memorable movie taglines are that the phrases are:
- Distinctive – in that distinctive words have been injected into a common sentence structure, and
- Portable – the line has been composed as a general statements. As a result, it can be readily applied to other situations. People enjoy repeating memorable lines.
Pragmatic Slogan Tips
Beyond the key slogan takeaways, we offer three pragmatic slogan tips from the Cornell research study.
- Avoid past tense. Present tense is not only more immediate, but more “portable” in making it meaningful to other situations.
- The i’s have it. Sounds made at the front of the mouth apparently roll off the tongue more easily, and this makes them easier to remember. The letter i is a “front sound” and the letter u is a “back sound”.
- Alliteration, rhyming and humour can help people remember a phrase.
For those interested in further reading, please see the full paper “You had me at hello: How phrasing affects memorability” by Cristian Danescu-Niculescu-Mizil, Justin Cheng, Jon Kleinberg and Lillian Lee, Department of Computer Science, Cornell University.
What do you think? Do the Cornell research findings line up with the brand slogans and taglines that stick in your mind?