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

Brand Slogans

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.

Dr Kin Kariisa

Group CEO - Next Media

Dr. Kin Kariisa is an extraordinary force at the helm of Next Media Services, a conglomerate encompassing NBS TV, Nile Post, Sanyuka TV, Next Radio, Salam TV, Next Communication, Next Productions, and an array of other influential enterprises. His dynamic role as Chief Executive Officer exemplifies his unwavering commitment to shaping media, business, and community landscapes.
With an esteemed academic journey, Dr. Kariisa’s accolades include an Honorary PhD in exemplary community service from the United Graduate College inTexas, an MBA from United States International University in Nairobi, Kenya, a Master’s degree in Computer Engineering from Huazong University in China, and a Bachelor’s degree in Statistics from Makerere University.
Dr. Kariisa pursued PhD research in Computer Security and Identity Management at Security of Systems Group, Radboud University in Nijmegen, Netherlands. As a dynamic educator, he has shared his expertise as a lecturer of e-Government and Information Security at both Makerere University and Radboud University.

Dr Kin did his PhD research in Computer Security and Identity Management at Security of Systems Group, Radbond University in Nigmegen, Netherlands. He previously served as a lecturer of e-Government and Information Security at Makerere University in Kampala, Uganda and Radbond University in Netherlands.

Dr Kin did his postgraduate courses in Strategic Business Management, Strategic Leadership Communication and Strategies for Leading Successful Change Initiatives at Harvard University, Boston USA.

  • Other current and previous roles played by Dr Kin Kariisa:
  • Lecturer of e-Government and Information Security to graduate students at Makerere University, Kampala and Radbond University in the Netherlands
  • Director of Eco Bank Uganda Limited, one of the largest banks in Africa
  • Chairman of the National Association of Broadcasters, an umbrella industry association for all Television, Radio and online broadcasters in Uganda.
  • Chairman of Board of Directors of Nile Hotel International, that owns the leading hotel in Uganda, Kampala Serena Hotel.
  • Chairman of Board of Directors of Soliton Telmec Uganda, the leading telecom company in Optic fibre business managing over 80% of optic fibre in Uganda.