Is Your Brand Effective? Take the Slogan Line Test

By Graeme Newell 

-You can influence your brand, but your customers ultimately own your brand.
-Take the seven question brand test.
-Effective branding plans are all about addressing customer needs, not a description of your product attributes.

Do you have a clearly defined brand position or just a catchy slogan with little product positioning behind it?

In last week’s column, I talked about the specific differences between a slogan and a brand. A slogan is not a brand. The job of a slogan is to clearly convey the brand position, not to drive it. The branding process should identify a laser-focused brand position first, then establish a slogan line to concisely convey the essence of that brand. A brand will clearly describe either the rational or emotional attachment to the viewer – not spout a list of product attributes.


Every product line has a brand, but a slogan line is optional. As a matter of fact, most products don’t have slogans.

You Do Not Own Your Brand
Brand positions can be influenced by advertising, but customers ultimately decide a product’s brand. Much to her chagrin, Britney Spears has a very defined brand position.

Word-of-mouth is the most powerful branding force on the planet. Without any advertising, Mother Teresa, Hitler, Congress, Santa, Hippies, and God all have incredibly defined brand positions. Advertising can facilitate a branding position, but it cannot drive it. Customers do that.

Sometimes a brand agrees with the company line and other times it doesn’t. For example, the delivery service DHL has a very established brand position – that of being unreliable and only used by companies that will tolerate bad service to save a few bucks. DHL is spending millions on advertising trying to convince customers that this well established brand is wrong.

Slogans are a Brand Moniker, Not a Brand
Slogans are an add-on to a strong brand position. They are meant to encapsulate and heighten the branding’s core emotional drivers.

-Nike has a brand of tenacity and perseverance. Its slogan is “Just do it.”

-Best Buy has a brand of helpful advice and making the complex simple. Its slogan is, “Thousands of possibilities. Get yours.”

-Motorola has a brand of cool and hip style that connects people in innovative new ways. Its slogan is “Hello Moto.”

So test your brand….

One on one, ask each person in your department to describe the station’s brand position in two sentences or less. If the person recites the slogan line back to you, ask them “what does that really mean?” Listen carefully to the things they include, and even more importantly, the things they leave out. Here is what to look for:

1) Do you hear consistency from the entire staff?

Do you get many different answers or is the staff accurately describing your brand position? Most people will simply repeat your slogan, but not understand the meaning behind the phrase.

2) How quickly do they answer?

Does it roll right off their tongue or do they struggle to figure it out?

3) Do you get different answers from different departments?

Does the newsroom have one view of the station and the promotion department has another? What about sales, engineering and production?

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Graeme Newell is a broadcast and web marketing specialist who serves as the president and founder of 602 communications. You can reach Graeme at