Question – are you a slogan writer? That was a trick question and the answer is yes.
At least in a sense, as long as you:
- Have a LinkedIn profile
- Accept the premise that a slogan, at its core, is just the phrase that you most often see next to a brand’s logo
Because on LinkedIn, the phrase most often seen next to your personal brand’s logo (your photo and name) is what LinkedIn labels your “headline”. And you probably wrote it.
I don’t know too much about writing slogans for LinkedIn profiles, but I do have experience writing slogans for complex, niche technology businesses.
I want to take you through the creative process I’ve used to write slogans. I’ll aso share a Google slide worksheet (link down below) that helps explain the mechanics of this process.
First though, some useful base operating assumptions related to coming up with slogans for niche tech brands:
- Most people in your target market have probably never heard of you
- Even if they have heard of you, they probably can’t describe what you do – at least not in the way you’d like
- If you don’t use a slogan, people will make one up for you in their head
Based on those rules of engagement, here’s my general advice on slogans:
- Firstly, always use one; not to use a slogan is a tragic missed opportunity. Never let your logo out the door if it’s not wearing a slogan
- Write it as a description of your business; a good starting point is “X for Y positioning” – parts 1 and 2 of this 7-part brand messaging formula.
- Make it complement and extend the message contained in the logo
- Be as pithy as possible, but don’t be afraid of a long slogan
- Don’t be afraid to be boring – conversely, don’t attempt funny, cute, or catchy. That’s for consumer brands.
- Don’t design your slogan – write it. Write it with zero regard with how/whether it complements the existing visual design elements that are part of your brand.
- Lastly, don’t be afraid to iterate new versions of your slogan as your business – or at least your positioning – evolves
Armed with that advice, let me share with you some of the specific techniques I use to ideate slogans:
- First, review customer interviews for words they use to describe you. This is a high-value opportunity for you, because no one else ever does it
- Look at examples from similar firms. Browse the usual directories: Crunchbase.com, Clutch.co, AngelList, etc. Let me know if you notice any patterns.
- Write or rewrite slogans for a couple of business similar to yours, asking yourself, “What is the essential thing I need to know about this company?”, as if you were cataloging these companies in your notebook for future reference
- Look at other slogans in completely different contexts – consumer brands, slogans written in different languages, slogans written a century ago, slogans belonging to fictional brands in movies, books, and TV shows
Ok… that’s an abbreviated ideation research process. Now down to the actual mechanics:
- Put together various “X for Y” slogan ideas. I like to use a 3×4 grid, to create 12 slogans. I also like the technique of writing not just “good” slogans, but “bad” slogans. Bad, or “worst possible”, ideas can be thought-provoking – not always, but in this case yes
- Here’s a really important tip on mechanics – write the slogan “in place”, right next to your logo. You may have a visual designer improve on your work, but try to make it pleasing to look at for you
- Select a few slogans you like from the two steps above, then write them out by hand; try using your non-dominant hand, and let yourself alter the slogans as you write them out. Alternatively, try holding your pen “on side”, as does an artist who works with paint
- Print everything out – look at printouts and at your handwritten notebook before you go to sleep
To understand this process, I’m providing you with a link to a worksheet from my free email course on marketing ideation. Feel free to make a copy for yourself.
If nothing else, the work described up to this point will yield plenty of slogan ideas – the last parts of this process including choosing what ideas to choose to think about, and refine, and finally what ideas to present back to your group (co-workers, partners, clients, customers, etc.). That peer review piece is so important to all this work, of course – thank you so much for your thoughts on that!
Curious as to your thoughts on the example slogans in the worksheet itself – what makes the BAD ones bad? (Assuming you agree that they are bad).
We should also discuss some of the ideation techniques built into the worksheet so you can extrapolate them from this process and apply them to the kind of creative work you do.