Eller College of Management Reveals Research Results on Brand Slogans for Improved Marketing Strategy

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A recent study co-authored by Caleb Warren, Susan and Philip Hagenah Associate Professor in Marketing at the University of Arizona Eller College of Management, aims to determine how words, and which words, can best make an impact on brand marketing. Warren, in addition to colleagues Brady Hodges and Zachary Estes, found that brands face a trade-off when crafting slogans – whether they are remembered or whether they are liked.

In their study, Warren and his associates aimed to answer the question of which words are best to include to be most effective in marketing slogans. They did so by dissecting the properties of words in brand slogans to see which predict whether consumers like and remember the slogan.

They began by asking samples of students and online workers to tell them how much they liked or disliked a subset of 820 real brand slogans. Later, they gave the study participants a surprise recognition test to see which slogans they remembered seeing earlier.

“Interestingly, we found that the properties that make a slogan easier to process (i.e., more fluent) make it more likable but less memorable, and vice versa,” says Warren. “Specifically, five linguistic properties had opposing effects on whether a slogan was liked and remembered: length, brand name, word frequency, perceptual distinctiveness and abstractness. Slogans that were longer and included the brand name (Like a good neighbor, State Farm is there vs. Like a neighbor) were remembered more but liked less. Conversely, slogans including words that are more frequently used (bad breath vs. halitosis), perceptually distinct (ultimate vs. best) and abstract (disease vs. halitosis) were more liked but remembered less.”

They also tested whether changing words in a slogan could make it more memorable or more liked — and whether it would make consumers more likely to engage with a brand. Overall, they found that consumers tend to like and engage with slogans that are relatively short, don’t mention the brand, and use frequent, distinct, and abstract words.

Ultimately, they found companies must choose if they want to be remembered or liked via their brand strategies.