The power of a good strapline

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In an age when few brands are bold enough to stick with a unifying slogan for long, it is worth looking at the brands whose straplines have really hit home.

A favourite of mine is “dirt is good” by Persil, not least because it focuses on storytelling rather than focusing on the functional or quasi-scientific aspects of the product.

It is also fun to see a brand bandy about the word “dirt” with such obvious relish in a category traditionally obsessed with extolling cleanliness.

And that is why it works.

“Persil is dedicated to showing you that dirt isn’t always bad. In fact, dirt is good – especially when it’s the result of your kids going out into the world to have fun, explore, learn and experience the very best the world around us has to offer,” the brand explained when it launched the slogan back in 2005.

“Not only will this help develop kids’ understanding of their world, the environment and nature, it will also shape their values, grow their confidence, benefit their health and ultimately help them reach important milestones.”

It is hard to argue with any of that.

The best slogans manage to encapsulate the spirit of brand and what makes it different from its competitors – while still demonstrating a consumer benefit.

“Because you’re worth it” (L’Oréal), “A diamond is forever” (De Beers), “Melts in Your Mouth, Not in Your Hands” (M&Ms), “All the news that’s fit to print” (New York Times) and “Maybe she’s born with it. Maybe it’s Maybelline” all meet this definition.

Some are so catchy they pass into common usage.

“Should’ve gone to Specsavers” is the gift that keeps on giving for the opticians – as Dominic Cummings ill-fated trip to Barnard Castle helped demonstrate.

“Does exactly what it says on the tin,” has became so popular it has transcended the original Ronseal campaign – to the point that some people do not remember where the phrase originates.

This was the fate of “easy peasy lemon squeezy,” which few will know began as a slogan for a British soap brand called Sqezy in the 1950s and 60s.

A version of this article was published as part of a weekly column by Guy Cookson on marketing, design, trends and strategy in the Lancaster Guardian, Blackpool Gazette, Lancashire Post and other titles. See our brand, web design and marketing recent projects.

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