Words To Live By

Sloganeering

An effective slogan should be brief. Keidel notes that many one-word slogans have been successful, such as Hertz's "Exactly." Six to eight words is the maximum number he suggests.

Short or long, a slogan should encapsulate the essence of the firm. "It should be unique to the company, and it should represent the company's cornerstone," says Paul Miesing, a management professor at Albany State University of New York.

One way to get some guidance when creating your slogan is to look at the slogans used by your competitors. Ideally, yours should say something different from theirs, staking out an area that rivals have ignored.

Slogan-crafting involves more than just developing a catchy saying, however. As a mini vision statement, your slogan should state exactly why your company is unique and how it will remain that way. For that reason, slogan designers use some of the same brainstorming tools, such as weekend management retreats, that vision statement writers do.

Soliciting input from employees is important, too. Don't let high-level managers come up with a slogan on their own, advises Andrew DuBrin, a management professor at the Rochester Institute of Technology in New York. "It's best if employees have some input," DuBrin says. "That will help you use it as a tool for team-building and motivation."

One way to encourage employee suggestions is through a contest. That was the technique Ford used to select its long-standing "Quality" slogan. However, DuBrin cautions, don't commit yourself to accepting one of the entries. "I suspect employees would probably come up with a nice slogan," he says. "But let them know that if they don't come up with something good, you won't use it."

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This article was originally published in the September 1998 print edition of Entrepreneur with the headline: Words To Live By.

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