The Strapline

Marketers will realise that my title above incorporates 2 of the best-known current, and long-standing, advertising slogans. Nike have been using ‘Just Do It’ since 1988, during which time it has become synonymous with their ‘tick’. ‘Taste the Rainbow’ has been used to promote Skittles sweets since 1994, across all types of media and channels. These slogans are global and memorable & yet is all too easy for Marketers to underestimate the power of a slogan, or strapline, viewing them as just words. So much time, energy and resources are devoted to the visual content of an ad, and the brand positioning, that the power of a strapline is easy to overlook.

I suspect that the current generation of marketers is perhaps placing far too little emphasis on the power of a strapline alongside a logo. Try flicking through a few magazines, as I have just done, and you will struggle to find ads with straplines. I chose 3 completely different magazines: a female lifestyle magazine aimed at the 20-something, an upscale travel magazine and a TV-show property magazine aimed at the 40+ market. Barely a strapline in sight!

Word of Mouth

Of course video will always be the most powerful way to create an impact, as it is stimulating the visual, auditory & kinaesthetic parts of the brain. The combination of music and emotion, or humour, create a lasting-impression on the viewer. And we live in a world where it is video content that goes viral, as it amuses or shocks people the world over. But, it is the words that we typically remember. And in advertising it is the logo and strapline that remain constant, as images and sounds change, either to promote variations of the product, or to reflect the seasons, or to impact slightly different target markets.

‘Word of Mouth’ has long been acknowledged as the most powerful type of marketing, and with social media channels facilitating this process, it is easy to overlook the fact that it is the words that we remember most easily and that we can spread most easily and prolifically.

Brand Slogans

I believe that every generation can remember some key straplines, that in some way shape or form, impacted their lives, e.g. ‘Beanz Meanz Heinz’ and ‘Don’t say brown, say Hovis’. The slogan that makes me smile, and brings back crazy memories is Budweiser and ‘Wassup’. In bars, cafes and pubs all over the world, people were walking in, spotting their friends and shouting ‘Wassup’, with the obligatory sticking out of the tongue!

My current favourite has to be Subway’s ‘Eat Fresh’. It isn’t easy to come up with a great strapline that encompasses your brand personality and values, but this one does so much more, as it identifies their USP in the very crowded takeaway food market.

Great Straplines

A great strapline is meaningful and memorable. It also stimulates beliefs, dreams, ambitions and expectations in the mind of the consumer. ‘Just Do It’ made a generation of people of every race, colour, religion and background believe that they could achieve something. Great straplines become part of modern culture. And with the power of hashtags, a strapline that works well in this context will always gain traction e.g. #eatfresh #justdoit

The challenge is for the modern marketer to come up with straplines that encompass such simplicity, memorability and relevance.


Written by Pamela Carvell, Lifestyle Marketer, January 2018

Check out more of Pamela’s work “here