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New research determines why consumers like, or dislike, slogans
By our News Team | 2023
Research team identifies five linguistic properties that have opposing effects on whether a slogan is liked or remembered.
A new study by two US universities – Missouri and Arizona – has uncovered the word properties that make slogans effective. The researchers found that the attributes that make a slogan easier to process lead to it being more likable but less memorable, and vice versa.
The work has been published in the peer-reviewed Journal of Consumer Research.
Photo courtesy of Pixabay
Previous research has recommended that slogans should be creative or capture the soul of the brand. But the authors found that people preferred slogans that are shorter, omit the brand name, and use words that are linguistically frequent and abstract.
In contrast, slogans are less liked, but better remembered, if they are long, include the brand name, and feature unusual and concrete words.
The paper, co-authored by Professor Zachary Estes, sheds light on the trade-offs that brands face when crafting a new slogan. It also offers marketers practical advice on choosing appropriate words, as well as guidance on how to write slogans that are either likable or memorable, in line with their strategic goals.
The researchers identified five linguistic properties that had opposing effects on whether a slogan was liked and remembered: length, brand name, word frequency, perceptual distinctiveness, and abstractness.
Longer slogans are easier to remember
Slogans that were longer and included the brand name were more frequently remembered but liked less. Conversely, slogans that included words that are more frequently used and abstract were better liked, but less well remembered.
This is because consumers fixate less often, and for less time, on slogan words that are frequently used and more abstract. As a result, when consumers come across fluent slogans, they are more likely to ‘like’ and click on the ads, but remember them less accurately.
As a result, the authors suggest that brands which need to gain recognition may consider using words that are difficult to process (i.e., rare and concrete words) while established brands may want to use words that are easy to process, (i.e., those that are common and abstract).
“Brands spend a lot of time and money creating and communicating slogans that consumers will like and remember,” says Professor Estes.
” For instance, BMW could make its slogan easier to remember by changing it from ‘The ultimate driving machine’ to ‘BMW is the peak driving machine’, but that would also make it harder to like. In fact, our research can be viewed as the ultimate slogan machine, and we hope that it will help marketers choose the best words for their brand.”
You can read more about the research here.
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