A slogan or tagline is a striking or memorable phrase used in advertising. An effective slogan has the ‘firepower’ to make consumers stop and think… and ever after recall your brand when they see or hear the phrase.
A slogan can play a key role in building your reputation and identity – but if poorly thought out, a slogan can send the wrong message, dilute your brand and even drive customers away.
In today’s media-saturated marketplace, it’s vital to create a slogan that cuts through the noise and sets your business apart from the competition. It doesn’t have to be complex. In fact, a simple phrase is often better, as long as it is memorable.
Think distinctive when you want to trademark a phrase
The global computer company, Apple’s slogan is “Think different.” If you want to register a trademark for your slogan, our advice is “Say it different.”
Distinctiveness and originality is also what gives your slogan its legal punch – and helps it qualify for trademark registration! Read our article, Can I trademark a phrase? to see examples of phrases that do not meet the criteria for trademark registration.
The more unconventional your slogan, in the context in which it is used, the more likely it is to be considered distinctive and the more likely you can protect it as a trademark.
For example, “Fast and effective relief from headaches” is unlikely to be distinctive if it is used by a company selling pain medication. But the same phrase might well be distinctive if used by an accounting firm because the message, in that context, is not literal!
In Why trademarks are important for brand protection, we give an excellent example of a small business owner, who used an original slogan, “A superhero has my back” firstly to distinguish her clothing brand from others, but also to protect her brand! Having a trademark registration for the slogan empowered her to quickly take action when a corporate retailer put that phrase on their own range clothing.
8 tips to trademark a phrase that’s unique
Here are 8 tips to trademark a phrase plus some trademark slogan examples used by well-known brand owners to help you create your own original and memorable phrase:
1. Come up with a metaphoric tagline
- Gives you wings (Red Bull)
- Unleash your mojo (Virgin Holidays)
2. Include original, fanciful or made-up words
- It’s fingerlickin’ good (KFC)
- They’re GR-R-REAT! (Kellogg Frosties)
3. Choose unconventional grammar or spelling
- Beanz Meanz Heinz (Heinz)
- Think Different (Apple)
4. Put a new spin on a well-known saying
- Lord of the Wings (for fast food)
- From Thought to Finish (Ernst & Young)
5. Make it amusing, unusual or thought-provoking
- Let your fingers do the walking (Yellow Pages)
- More experience than our name suggests. (Virgin Atlantic)
6. Make a clever play on words
- Liquid Engineering (BP)
- Mile High Tea (Virgin Atlantic)
7. Include your registered trademark in your slogan
This is likely to make the phrase distinctive and registrable. Many brand owners use this technique:
- Everyone deserves quality food. Everyone deserves Waitrose.
- She’s next, empowered by Visa.
8. Use your slogan as part of a stylised logo
Meeting the criteria to trademark a phrase can be challenging. If your phrase is unlikely to qualify as a trademark, to make sure you get a level of protection for your slogan, you could apply for a logo trademark.
Here are some examples of companies that have registered trademarks for logos that incorporate their slogans.
Whatever you do, find a way to get registered trademark protection for your slogan or phrase in one form or another. A tagline can be a critical part of your strategy to distinguish your brand in a crowded marketplace – and a registered trademark gives you robust, countrywide protection for your brand.