Political Slogans: Creating a Compelling Campaign Slogan

by Joe Garecht

There are three simple communications devices that every campaign needs: a message, issues that support the message, and an effective campaign slogan. In this post, we are going to address the third in that list: how does a campaign create an effective and compelling political slogan?

1. Tie it to Your Message

When designing a campaign slogan, the first thing to keep in mind is the campaign’s message – what is the big picture message of the campaign? (The message should be created before the slogan. For more information about creating a campaign message, read How to Craft Your Campaign’s Message). Your campaign slogan needs to tie into your overall campaign message. Ideally, your slogan captures all of the spirit of your message in a snappier, more succinct form.

For example, if the campaign message is, “John Bateman will keep us safe by adding three new full-time officers to our police force, and by toughening our town’s anti-drug laws.” Your campaign slogan might be, “John Bateman: Safer Streets, Stronger Community.”

As another example, if the campaign message is, “John Bateman will protect our town’s quality of life by strengthening our conservation efforts for our streams and rivers, setting aside more open space, and opening new playgrounds, “ then your campaign slogan might be, “Clean Water, Healthy Families. John Bateman for Mayor.”

2. Tap into Core Human Values

Good campaign slogans, like good campaign messages, tap into core human wants, needs, and values. What are core human values? They are those things that everyone wants and can agree on, even if we disagree on how to make those values a reality. These values are also usually emotional, generating a “deep-down” response from voters. Some of these core values include:

  • Safety and security
  • Making sure our children have a better life than we did
  • Being able to provide for our families
  • Feeling like the world is a just and fair place
  • Having enough to eat, a place to sleep, and a good school for our kids

3. Make it Memorable

Once you have sketched out the basics of your campaign slogan, figured out how to tie it to your message, and tapped into core human wants and needs, you will need to phrase your slogan in a way that makes it easy to remember. It needs to be short enough to be said in one breath, and snappy enough to be easy to say over and over again.

Memorable slogans often use short “phrase bursts,” a staccato style that breaks up a longer sentence into easily-recalled phrases. The two slogan examples we used above used this style:

  • John Bateman: Safer Streets, Stronger Community
  • Clean Water, Healthy Families. John Bateman for Mayor.

Another way to make your slogan memorable is to make it super-interesting. If a voter is intrigued by your slogan (but still understands it… don’t make it too intriguing!) then he or she is likely to remember it. For example, a former candidate for DA and City Controller in Philadelphia who were Republicans, when most of the city power players were Democrats, used this interesting slogan: “We need these guys to watch those guys.” That’s memorable!

Finally, some campaigns have had great success using alliteration to make their slogans memorable. An example of this would be: “Safe Streets. Strong Schools. John Bateman for Mayor.” This can work well, but be careful not to overdo it or make it sound too cheesy.

4. Get the Word Out

The last key to creating compelling campaign slogan is getting the word out. A slogan won’t do you much good if your create it and then put it away. If you’ve designed a great tagline, use your campaign slogan on all of your campaign materials, at the end of all of your ads, in your direct mail… everywhere. People remember things best when the hear them over and over again.  (For more information on using repetition in your campaign, read: A Guide to Raising Your Name ID).

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