a

The Evolution of a Brand's Slogan

Examines the evolution of several global brands that have continually incorporated the companies' visions, values, historical evolution and cultural differences into their slogans.

by Jennifer Post Stoudt

photo

When actress Lea Michele flips her silky, smooth brown hair and utters “Because I’m worth it,” she’s selling more than just L’Oreal make-up and hair color. 

According to economics major Chak Hei (Bill) Chan ’15, Michele is also selling power and feminist rights, two concepts the company values.  

With guidance from Professor Jayanthi Rajan, M.B.A., Chan conducted an Albright Creative Research Experience (ACRE) project during January Interim titled “The Evolution of a Brand’s Advertising Slogan.” By analyzing the factors that contribute to the success of brand advertising slogans— short phrases used to sell a product and increase how memorable it is— and using the case study method, the project examines the evolution of several global brands that have continually incorporated the companies’ visions, values, historical evolution and cultural differences into their slogans.  

Chan grew up in Hong Kong watching commercials with catchy advertising slogans like “Just do it” (Nike) and “I’m loving it” (McDonald’s). Eager to learn more about how companies develop these slogans, the international student emailed all of the faculty in Albright’s business and marketing department to ask if someone would be interested in working with him.

Chan’s ambition intrigued Rajan. She did not know him and was a bit skeptical because Chan had never taken a marketing class. But, she says, “he was really willing to do it.” So she signed on.

Rajan and Chan studied numerous slogans and their evolution, but Chan’s favorite, he says, is Xbox360’s “Life is short, play more” because it “brilliantly expresses hedonism and encourages people to enjoy the moment.”

 “‘When it rains it pours’ has a perfect, synergistic effect with the picture printed on the canister of Morton Salt, which is a girl wearing a yellow coat with an umbrella, and holding a can of Morton Salt with an open spout from which the salt is falling out,” says Chan. The Morton Salt umbrella girl and slogan first appeared in 1914, according to the company’s website. Both convey the company’s most important message: that its salt still flows in humid weather.  

Citigroup’s “Let’s get it right” shows a proactive approach to remedying the perception of banks as greedy and self-interested in the wake of 2008’s financial crisis. “Citigroup changed its slogan to show its determination to correct its wrong mindset and fix its operating system to avoid future crises,” Chan says. “It aptly incorporates the company’s vision.”

Looking at the cultural meanings that certain slogans carried was especially interesting for Chan and Rajan. For instance, says Rajan, “French mobile phone company Orange came up with the highly successful tagline ‘The future is bright - the future is Orange,’ which, while popular with much of the English-speaking world, didn’t play well in Northern Ireland, where the color is closely associated with Orange Order, the Protestant loyalists. Many Irish Catholics took exception to the campaign.”

When Rajan suggested they take a look at Taco Bell’s switch from “Think outside the bun” to “Live Mas,” cultural differences became even more apparent. Chan had never heard of Taco Bell because the company is not in Hong Kong. “It was interesting for me to have to take a step back and rethink our research,” says Rajan. “We chose to research FedEx, ‘The world on time,’ instead.”

Chan says Rajan has been a helpful adviser as well as a good friend. “I have learned some insightful perspectives towards the research, as well as how to cite resources and classify information,” he says.

Chan and Rajan are currently working on finalizing their report, which is due at the end of February.