The Science of a Great Slogan

November 27, 2007

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Whether it’s writing a billboard ad, news story or blog post, the most important part is nailing your headline message. It’s your witty slogan or hard hitting headline that will grab attention. Then once you’ve hooked people’s interest you can start reeling them towards your call for action.

But perfecting the impact of your slogan or headline can also be the most agonizing part of composing your copy, and is getting harder all the time.

If you were to listen to the panic on the falling effectiveness of advertising you’d think the days of clever metaphors and witty wordplay in copywriting were numbered. The consensus being that people are saturated with so many ads that they’ve simply become oblivious to the daily downpour of slogans and sales messages.

But devices such as metaphor, alliteration and rhyme are just too effective to ever die. If people are getting ad weary then this just raises the bar for copywriters to think up ever more ingenious ways of breaking their language’s rules, and spark interest with each combination of five or so words.

The best way of selling might be through education and informative value. But there will always be room for an inventive strapline or two.

However, finding the right combination of words to hook people onto your message can be a tricky puzzle. Some ad writers might like to think that the next great tagline will just materialize when they’re out walking the dog, or relaxing in the garden to recharge their alpha waves.

In reality, however, a great slogan will often only appear after hours of brainstorming, and many reams of paper.

Wouldn’t life be great if there was a scientific approach that could be applied to how a strapline is formulated? What are the principles that explain why a certain combination of words can sell millions of trainers, and others just leave people cold?

Well, I was directed via N3W Media’s blog to an article by Nick Padmore in which he uses a list of the 115 best slogans, headlines and taglines to assess their defining characteristics. Then through a process of elimination, Nick concludes what is the greatest piece of ad copy of all time.

So, was it the US Army’s ‘Be all you can be’, AT&T’s ‘Reach out and touch someone’ or Felix’s ‘Cat’s like Felix like Felix’?

Just follow the link for insight into a true professional’s infatuation with the English language, and discover what is ‘The Greatest Copy Shot Ever Written’.

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7 Comments. Leave new

Excellent article! I think there is a lot to be said regarding statistical analysis of the words you use in your headlines and slogans. Currently, I am using something called Glyphius (not an affiliate link) which uses statistical analysis to compare headlines and to help you choose the most effective one.

Hi Maria,

This is another headline analyzer I’ve used from time to time:

http://www.aminstitute.com/headline/index.htm

Previously I’ve been a bit skeptical of such tools, preferring to trust my instincts. However, as they get more sophisticated I’m sure they’ll become useful for tightening areas you might have missed.

Matt.

Freelance Writing Jobs - The Internet’s #1 Freelance Writer Community » Blog Archive » Weekend Link Love for December 1st, 2007
December 1, 2007 6:41 pm

[…] The Science of a Great Slogan at The Copywriter’s Crucible. […]

Can Using Science Teach Us to Write Better Headlines? | The Copywriter's Crucible
December 6, 2007 12:25 am

[…] week, I wrote about the scientific approach taken by Nick Padmore towards writing slogans. He systematically compiled a set of the guiding principles that defined […]

Forum for writers
January 23, 2008 5:56 pm

Very interesting article. I guess it would be interesting to read for members of writing forum. I’ve posted part of your article here: http://www.writersclub.net/nuts_and_bolts_of_writing/the_science_of_a_great_slogan-t126.0.html
You are welcome to share your opinion at the forum :)

Hi there,

Just came across this blog tonight and found this article really interesting.

Has anyone every heard of a software program called ‘Ad Cracker’? Anyone used it for coming up with headline, slogan ideas?

Tks

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