Excellent Corporate Slogans and Mottos Analyzed

In September I wrote an article that included some really interesting and famous corporate mottos of huge companies, such as Microsoft, IBM, Intel, McDonalds, LG and many more. But, it was rather a compilation of really interesting company slogans, without going into further detail or evaluation. This time, I have picked just a couple of the most intriguing and thought-provoking corporate slogans (or advertising slogans) and analyzed these company sayings a bit more in-depth.

First off, what exactly makes a good corporate slogan? What differentiates an effective and successful corporate motto from a meaningless slogan?

To answer this question I have to speak a bit verbosely here, about the intentions behind a company motto. The purpose of advertising slogans and corporate mottos is to draw attention on a company (or on one of its products) and to emphasize the outstandingly positive characteristics of the corporation – the unique selling proposition of the company as a whole, if you so want. The intention behind every one of these short phrases is to make it so catchy that it is easy to remember and nearly unforgettable, so that people will start to associate the communicated characteristics in the slogan with the corporation that stands behind the slogan. Furthermore, the goal of an advertising slogan is to elicit a desire within the customer or to draw the customers attention on a specific (important) aspect of the product.

An excellent corporate motto is easy to remember and communicates the uniqueness of its company in a pretty straightforward, focused and clear manner. The most successful corporate mottos are based on the specialty of the corporation (means that they are not unrelated/unspecifc) and communicate its visions and objectives in order to elicit sympathy with the public and to give its customer a pretty good reason to identify themselves with the company.

An example for a meaningless or even misleading corporate slogan can be found in Cingular’s “now the new AT&T” or in LG’s “Life’s Good”, whereas a very successful and catchy slogan can be found in Disneyland’s “the happiest place on earth”, just to give you an impression of both of the sides. Another very misleading slogan was Microsoft’s “where do you want to go today?” that would have been (in my opinion) the perfect motto for an airline that flies you around the globe – wherever you want to go and whenever you want to – at low cost, but not for a computer software company. I’m sure that Microsoft’s marketing specialists had their well-thought through reasons when creating this slogan, but the concept of the motto didn’t make any sense for a regular customer who had to sit at home on his personal computer, whenever he used the software of the company.

Excellent Corporate Mottos Analyzed

Adidas – “Impossible is nothing”

PunchlineAdidas – “Impossible is Nothing”, Photo by onion83

Adidas introduced its mainstream marketing slogan “Impossible is nothing” in the year 2004 with the intention to capture the essence of the adidas brand in one catchy short phrase. The slogan became the concept behind their brand positioning “forever sport” and aimed to communicate adidas’ passion for sport emotionally.

“As an athlete you always strive to go further, break new grounds, surpass your limits. So do we as a brand, to achieve our mission to be the leading sports brand in the world.”
~ Erich Stamminger, President of adidas America

The advertising slogan subverts the well-known phrase “Nothing is impossible” – a motivational cliché – and substitutes the word order of “nothing” and “impossible” to create a grammatically puzzling phrase.

When analyzing adidas’ advertising slogan superficially it obviously implies that the impossible is to be considered nothing, just like saying that accomplishing the impossible is not a big deal, or even considered to be easy, when wearing shoes and clothes of the German sportswear manufacturer. The slogan is clearly not intended to communicate the same message as, “Nothing is impossible”, which can be reversed to “everything is possible”. Instead, when using the phrase, “it’s nothing” we mean that something is very easy for us to accomplish, so to say that reaching the impossible is not just possible, but also extremely easy.

Adidas’ advertising slogan was a clever chosen phrase that basically says, “Of course I can do the impossible. That’s nothing for me!” The slogan does not only encourage athletes participating in championships like the Olympics to break records that were considered to be impossible to break, but also communicates adidas’ belief that professionals and hobby sportsmen can go beyond the impossible.

Nokia – “Connecting People”

Nokia Connecting PeopleNokia – “Connecting People”, Photo by Micky.!

The Nokia Corporation – that has been active in the telecommunication business since the 1960s – introduced its company motto “Connecting People” in 1992 and hasn’t changed the successful slogan for nearly two decades. Although the slogan consists only of two words it clearly communicates the company’s vision – to connect people with each other, no matter how far the distance in between them – in a straightforward manner that is easy to remember.

When people started to re-analyze Nokia’s slogan in recent years, I’ve noticed that there was the basic tenor and criticism that a company couldn’t connect people, as they would have to connect with each other for themselves. A statement that is surely correct, but in order to fully grasp and understand the intentions behind Nokia’s corporate slogan we have to go back in time to the year of the market introduction. The catchy motto was being introduced in 1992, when Nokia started to exit from the cable business to direct the company’s focus on telecommunications – specifically via mobile devices. I find it utterly important to stress out that back in the beginning of the 1990s; there simply was no device available to easily connect people with each other, besides (cable!) telephones and letters. So, the vast majority of humans was dependent on fixed phone lines (or letters) in order to communicate with others over big distances. It was a stroke of genius of the Nokia Corporation to position itself with the slogan, “Connecting People” in a clever way as the corporation that provided facilities for people to stay in touch with each other and to close huge distances in between each other – without being dependent on letters and telephone connections.

Nokia’s subtly chosen corporate slogan communicates the vision of its corporation in an elegant and remarkable manner, with the use of only two words. But, something that is even more remarkable is that Nokia adhered to its slogan and had a huge proportion in the development of the 1990s and 2000s in the mobile device industry and allowed many people to connect with each other in an easy way.

Apple – “Think Different”

ad-campaign-differentApple – “Think Different”, Photo by nilson

Apple’s advertising slogan, “Think Different” was being created by the advertising agency TBWA\Chiat\Day that also coined Adidas’ slogan “Impossible is Nothing”, hence the similarity of the two phrases that look both grammatically incorrect, at first sight. The “Think Different” advertising campaign included a TV-commercial that featured the footage of icons of the 20th century, such as Albert Einstein, Buckminster Fuller, John Lennon and Martin Luther King, amongst many others.

Here’s to the crazy ones. The misfits. The rebels. The troublemakers. The round pegs in the square holes. The ones who see things differently. They’re not fond of rules. And they have no respect for the status quo. You can quote them, disagree with them, glorify or vilify them. About the only thing you can’t do is ignore them. Because they change things. They push the human race forward. And while some may see them as the crazy ones, we see genius. Because the people who are crazy enough to think they can change the world, are the ones who do.
© Apple Inc, “Think Different” ad campaign

The “Think Different” ad campaign debuted in 1997, nearly one year after Steve Jobs had returned to the company, and it was highly successful in rejuvenating Apple’s image in the public and earned numerous awards. One reason that the slogan was so memorable lies in the slightly irritating and grammatically puzzling formulation of the phrase, “Think Different”, which was being criticized as grammatically incorrect by the “grammar police”, soon after its publication. The critics argued that, due to the fact that “think” is a verb, the usage of the adjective “different” was incorrect, as “Think Differently” would have been the grammatically correct formulation. Nevertheless, the criticism couldn’t stop the positive development of the slogan and the outstandingly positive receptions it received.

“The ads are for people who don’t care what the computer does, but care about what they can do with the computer.”
~ Allen Olivo, Apple’s senior director for worldwide marketing communications

Apple’s “Think Different” advertising slogan was a turning point for the company as a whole and it became a cult – or even a lifestyle if you so want – to think differently than the vast majority that was using Microsoft’s products. Steve Jobs established with its slogan a “counter-culture” image of Apple and with it came the re-emergence of the company as an important player in the computer and “tech-lifestyle” industry within the following decade. I believe, one of the reasons that the slogan was such an excellent choice lies in the fact that it encouraged potential apple customers to “Think Different”, as in: “Think (about buying a computer that is somehow) Different (than the rest and it offers you possibilities none of the others has thought of, because we think different and so can you!”

Kentucky Fried Chicken – “Finger Lickin’ Good”

KFC's taglineKFC – “Finger Lickin’ Good”, Photo by Marufish

The genesis of KFC’s corporate motto “Finger Lickin’ Good” is remarkable, especially when considering that the slogan originated coincidentally from a spontaneous real-life situation and not from the labs of an advertising agency. The story tells, that the Founder of Kentucky Fried Chicken, Harland David Sanders (Colonel Sanders) noticed, back in the 1930s, how people were licking their fingers after finishing their dinner, as they couldn’t get enough of Colonel Sanders’ secret flavor recipe that included 11 herbs and spices, hence the “finger lickin’ good.” Nevertheless, it took nearly two decades until the corporate slogan was being introduced in the 1950s, after KFC’s manager Ken Harbough explained, “Well it’s finger lickin’ good”, as the sole reason why KFC showed a man eating his chicken and licking his fingers in an TV commercial that was broadcasted in the USA. From this point onwards, the slogan became one of the most recognized slogans in the world and was one of the most successful advertising mottos in the 20th century.

In the 1950s, Kentucky Fried Chicken was mainly targeting with their advertising efforts the American South, hence the dropped “g” in “lickin’,” which is colloquial in the Southern dialect and reflected the way the founder, Colonel Sanders, was speaking. One of the reasons that made the slogan so successful that KFC kept it for more than half a century as an ad slogan lies in the fact that nearly everyone ate chicken without the aid of cutlery but with his hands and automatically licked his greasy fingers afterwards.

KFC’s “Finger Lickin’ Good” is widely accepted as one of the most successful ad slogans in the 20th century and became one of the most recognized slogans in the world. As of February, 20th 2011, KFC announced that it would abandon its successful slogan and replace it with “so good,” as an effort to establish a healthier image in the public.

Wheaties – “Breakfast for Champions”

wheaties punchline

Wheaties - "Breakfast of the Champions" by tape

Wheaties – the genuine cereal producer – has become an American icon throughout the 80+ years of its existence and is nowadays well-known for the orange box that features the most celebrated athletes from all kinds of sports, such as basketball, golf, baseball, wrestling and ice hockey on the front of the cereal packages. The advertising slogan, “Breakfast for Champions”, isn’t just a tagline, it has become the link that connects the ambitions of kids to become athletes one day as well with the desire for a “secret ingredient” to achieve sports greatness, like their famous role models.

The companies association with sports commenced in the late 1920s, when Wheaties started an advertising campaign for Minneapolis’ minor league baseball team that included the sponsorship of radio broadcasts and the southern billboard in the stadium. The corporation’s famous tagline, “Breakfast for Champions,” that hasn’t been changed ever since, was invented by Knox Reeves, an executive of the advertising agency based in Minneapolis that created Wheaties’ ads.

Wheaties tagline “Breakfast for Champions” has proven to be tremendously successful, especially when famous athletes, such as Babe Ruth, Bob Feller and Johnny Weissmuller testified that Wheaties’ cereal was truly the breakfast for the champions.

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  1. Maria Callas (Reply) on Mar 4, 2011

    These are great. I cannot recall what was Amazon’s first?

    • Steve (Reply) on Mar 4, 2011

      I might be mistaken, but I think their first slogan was, “Earth’s Biggest Selection,” introduced in the 90ies. And the corporate motto for Amazon’s employee’s is “work hard, have fun, make history.”

  2. Mahmud (Reply) on Aug 1, 2011

    The article was indeed very insightful. Thanks Steve!! :)

    However, I do have an observation and feedback. I do agree that ‘Think Different’ sounds grammatically puzzling, but it’s not grammatical incorrect. Despite ‘Different’ has its use commonly as an adjective, it is also an adverb and so can be used as an adverb as well. For further reference, you can check any dictionary around your or the link given below:

    ww.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/different

    Anyway, thanks for the article once again. Keep up the good work! Cheers! :)

    • Steve (Reply) on Aug 5, 2011

      Thanks for your input Mahmud!

  3. Mahmud (Reply) on Aug 1, 2011

    … around you* …

    Sorry for the typo.. :)

  4. Reshma (Reply) on Nov 13, 2011

    Hey Steve,

    After reading your article on mottos i have got a picture about the techniques of making a motto but I would like your suggestions for mottos for our company. We are a group of companies dealing with document attestation, educational consultancy, HRM services, IT services, Material banking, Infrastructure development etc.
    Can you think of a common motto which would represent all these company goals and services??
    Do respond!

    Thank you.

    • Steve (Reply) on Nov 13, 2011

      Hey Reshma, that’s quite difficult as I have not the necessary overview of the group of companies you are representing and the various different aspects of them. But in general, the slogan should be carefully chosen and include the goals and visions of only one company. Also it’s important that they are memorable, straight to the point and share the vision of your company.

      Here are some suggestions:

        “Name of the company group” – Stronger together
        “Name of the company group” – We are building the future
        “Name of the company group” – Consulting solutions
        “Name of the company group” – Making the difficult simple
        “Name of the company group” – Join us in creating the future of tomorrow
        “Name of the company group” – Connecting the best businesses
        “Name of the company group” – Simply the best companies

      These are just some suggestion, but please keep in mind that they are all very vague as I really have not the overview over the companies nor your company.

  5. rizki (Reply) on Jan 14, 2012

    so good…. may i get the some point about ur tittle….as the comparing fr my thesis,,,,or can u give me the some of journal that have correlation about this topic,,tq mr


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