Get vacuous slogans by the dozen

I commented about the new American Airlines tagline a couple of days ago. I thought it was weak to the point of being inane. Their “We know why you fly” slogan is bad branding that neither positioned the airline nor communicates a benefit. The slogan is a “given” if you’re an airline. It is clearly a platitude.

Then yesterday, a blogger from Selengor, Malaysia, linked up to my site. I followed the link to “A Hermit’s Muse” where I found a nice, iconoclastic “recreational” site. I was curious why she, the hermit, would want to link to my site. I found while scanning the page a link in the right hand column to a site known as “Sloganizer”.

Was this why she’d linked up? Don’t know, but I followed the link and came upon a “randomizer” site which suggested it was the answer to all me tagline worries. All I had to do was type in a “keyword” (name, descriptor, concept, etc.), push “submit” and the site would supply a slogan. “Wow”, I though, “What a great idea.”

So I tried it out.

I typed in “branding” as the keyword and got the following:

 “Branding makes dreams come true”

That didn’t really work for me  – there was no differentiation, just a vacuous, impossible promise. So I tried another time and got:

 “You can’t stop branding”

No good. So again I tried. This time it regurgitated:

 “Branding moments”

What? One more time got me this gem:

“Branding nonstop”

I quit after another half-dozen tries.

So here’s my point: this demonstration of “a thousand monkeys” approach to slogan writing was flawed from the beginning. There was no way the compiler of this database could know (and probably didn’t care) how to differentiate a generic product/service/event, or even impart a distinct benefit. He or she just thought up or borrowed cute phrases that copywriting hacks have foisted upon their clients for years. The creator of this clever – and dangerous if taken seriously – site has actually developed a “platitude generator”.

Like many real-life copywriters, this exercise relys on “clever” as a substitute for “relevant”, “meaningful” and “engaging”. 

You might want to go to the Sloganizer site and try it out on your product, concept, feature, etc. You might get lucky. But I think the lesson learned will be twofold: first know what differentiates your offering from competitors, and two, create a tagline that communicates that difference with power and credibility.

Martin Jelsema

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