I’ve spent a good part of my business life trying to get fickle consumers to remember the brands I work for.
We work within organisations to hone strategy and to create a great brief for our creative agencies to come up with fantastic advertising to persuade consumers and then align the commercial activities to create a great experience for our consumers. But the most visible manifestation of the brand is the slogan.
New research reveals that, contrary to popular belief, brand slogans don’t need to be short in order for people to like them.
According to the study, published in the Journal of Business Research, there are three primary factors that determine whether people like a given slogan:
– Clarity of message
– Familiarity with the brand
With my own experience in developing advertising lines for brands such as Tiger beer, such research resonates with me. The best slogan I was associated with was developed, or reborn by the Singapore DDB team for Tiger beer- “What time is it; Its Tiger time”. This brief catchy slogan resonated with Singapore consumers in the early 2000s. It wasn’t 100% original as the 1940s and 50s slogan for the brand was ” It’s Time for a Tiger”, and this harking back to an evident truth about the brand made the slogan more memorable. It was also a time when technology was starting to impinge on everyday life, and this simple call to action enabled people to meet in person rather than just phone or text each other. Guys always need an excuse for a beer; and Tiger Time gave them that.
But back to the research, and what’s interesting is the study found that while repeated exposure can help people remember a slogan better, people are unlikely to have a more positive reaction to it simply because they have seen it more frequently.
Creating a jingle around a slogan, like McDonald’s “I’m Lovin’ It,” does not have an effect on whether people will like it, the study found. Thats interesting as we spent an inordinate amount of time trying to create jingles or catchy tunes to go with our brand ads.
In order to get their data, the researchers surveyed 595 US residents people about 150 well-known US slogans, asking them questions about whether they liked the slogans and to rate them on qualities like clarity and simplicity. They then assessed the relative importance of slogan characteristics, media expenditure, and respondent characteristics as antecedents of slogan likeability. The findings suggest that the liking for a slogan may be unrelated to media expenditure, and driven largely by the clarity of the message, the exposition of the benefits, rhymes, and creativity. Further, in sharp contrast to industry practice and conventional belief, the study finds that jingles or brevity have no systematic effects on the likeability of slogans.
So back to my experience and Tiger beer.
So what do I think that’s worked- “Give that man a beer, No give that man a Tiger” was certainly a great slogan for the 1990s (until we translated it into Spanish for our Asian consumers). “Its Tiger time” worked its way through several iterations in the 2000s, as different brand managers sought to make their mark by changing the slogan slightly- but having a time and making time for beer and mates certainly was effective. “Winning the World Over” was a great slogan from the 1990s as well, and has been reused in the 2000s. For Asian consumers unsure of the quality of local brands, world acclaim- that Tiger beer had won almost 50 Gold medals – worked to reassure consumers of their choice.
But one things that stands out in Tiger’s marketing history and that is the consistent inconsistency the brand was forced to displayed.
“Just do it” “Ultimate driving machine” and other slogans work because they are relevant to consumer and brand, distinctive to the brand, motivating to consumers and CONSISTENT across decades.
The biggest threat. I see, to building great brands are the managers that are tasked with custodianship of the brands and the managers inconsistent approach to creating and then using appropriate messages. We marketing people love novelty live for novelty and get bored with our own advertising much more quickly than consumers. The real skill in marketing is taking a well proven slogan and strategy and reinventing how you can use it. And while this is partly highlighted in this research, consistency of message, for me, really sets brands apart.
What are your views on Tiger beer advertising or on ad slogans in general, please share.