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communication skills Glasgow - Nike

Will your slogan succeed or fail?

Strong and stable.

It’s a simple message from Prime Minister Theresa May…but it’s the opposite of what her Government has become.

So former PM John Major makes a good point in a speech in London that it’s time to bin “puerile” slogans in favour of more honest policies that address the needs of the nation.

Slogans have been used for more than a century to capture a mood or idea that politicians or organisations want to get across.

Some of the most effective have been advertising slogans, several of which were popular as I was growing up in the ’60s and ’70s.

“Have a break – have a Kit Kat”

“Beanz Meanz Heinz”

“Let your fingers do the walking”

Slogan success

communication skills edinburgh kit kat.

The success of a slogan depends on three things:

  1.  People can remember it
  2.  They can repeat it
  3.  They believe in it

In that respect, the last two US Presidents had winning slogans.

Barack Obama’s “Yes We Can” in 2008.

And Donald Trump’s “Make America Great Again” in 2016.

However, history will show that the much-admired Obama got stuck in the legislative mud with many of his reforming ideas.

The world holds its breath to see just how great Trump is making America.

And that’s the issue that Sir John Major is addressing.

Empty promises

communicatio skills edinburgh trump.

If a slogan is an empty promise, it will become a millstone around the promoter’s neck.

It’s likely Theresa May will have fallen out of love with “strong and stable”.

Sir John now concedes his “Back to Basics” derailed social policies.

The sex scandals that engulfed his 1990s government were the opposite of the “family values” he was promoting with his slogan.

Problems with brevity

commmunication skills edinburgh black lives matter.

The biggest challenge in creating a slogan is often capturing a complex idea in very few words – sometimes just three.

So “Black Lives Matter” and #MeToo make the point effectively.

The Lib Dems’ “Change Britain’s Future” slogan at the 2017 election, however, was just too vague to be meaningful.

As a party, they were almost wiped out in Westminster.

You could lay the same charge at Hillary Clinton’s 2016 campaign slogan, which was…? (exactly).

When we run our training courses in Glasgow, Edinburgh and across the world, we discuss slogans, brand values and core beliefs with clients regularly.

The ones they’ve settled on have often been provided by an external consultant.

Trouble is, employees have difficulty remembering, repeating and believing in them.

Paint your vision

communication skills edinburgh cityscape.

Our alternative is a simple three-step process:

  1. Give examples of your successes
  2. Explain why what you did worked
  3. Paint a vision of what you want to do next

We’ve written extensively on this here.

This proves highly-effective on our change management courses, presentation skills courses and media training courses.

It captures what the individual or organisation wants to get across to a wider audience.

It often takes more than a three-word slogan to create a vision of the future.

So if yours is simplistic and vague, replace it with our plan for clear communication.

And if you’re hesitating about switching tack, here’s some advice from Nike:

Just do it.


Bill McFarlan is the Executive Chairman of Pink Elephant Communications in Glasgow.

You can view his full profile here


Photo credit: renaissancechambara / CC BY; pburka / CC BY-SA; Gage Skidmore / CC BY-SA; renaissancechambara / CC BY; all via

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