What’s in a slogan? Everything, stupid

Ramsey Naja is chief creative officer, JWT MENA

I normally have my hair done at a place called Coiffure de Paris. Now, this is embarrassing, whichever way you look at it. Worse still, on Foursquare, I am the Mayor of Coiffure de Paris, which suggests that I am either sexually confused or have a poor sense of direction.

In fact, my hairdresser’s name is nothing more than a typical example of pretentiousness meeting predictability, and this, in essence, is a recipe for bad copywriting. This is not necessarily attributable to copywriters themselves, but to that strangely anachronistic desire that many businesses have, to announce themselves with wishful thinking, knee-jerk names and, worst of all, wishy-washy slogans, all of which contrive to deny any commercial intent on their part.

You see, it is one thing to call your business “Greener Grass” if you sell lawn pesticides, make fences, or simply run an Amsterdam coffee shop, but quite another when you start saying things such as “We have high standards!” in brush script bold italic. For some reason, few people mind groan-inducing names, and yet, when it comes to the slogan, the benchmark shifts dramatically. It may be because a slogan suggests a promise – a heartfelt pledge to do exactly what you wish to be done. As such, slogans are either ignored because they are utterly bland, or used as the basis for complaint letters when they are specific.

So, do we actually need slogans today? Do we really think that this company “cares as much as you do”, “works as much as you do” or gives you the lifestyle you actually wished you had? Do we actually give a damn if this store is “knowingly undersold” or not – whatever that means – or actually believe that a good shave is the best thing a man can get? Like hell we do. In an age when consumers are not just being cynical but holding you accountable, promises will only work when backed by blog reviews and actual experiences, or are simply… honest: “It is what your mom would have given you if your mom was a man”. Now, that’s a slogan.

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