Slogans condense the essence of entire brands into singular phrases.
To help inspire your slogan writing skills, we compiled a list of the greatest slogans ever… along with their origins – some of which you’d never expect!
1. Nike – Just Do It
… was inspired by a heinous criminal
“Just Do It” challenges athletes to rise to the occasion in the face of overwhelming adversity.
This motivational slogan has rather grim origins – it was inspired by the last words of Utah killer Gary Gilmore, who said “let’s do this” as he faced a firing squad.
The slogan has been used for almost 30 years and is attributed with helping Nike triumph over Reebok in the ‘Sneaker War’ of the 80’s.
2. Kit Kat – Have a break, have a Kit Kat
… was coined to sell chocolate to the workforce
Agency: JWT Orland
Kit Kat was conceptualized in 1937 as a chocolate bar that men could take to the workplace and enjoy during breaktimes.
From the get-go, Kit Kat ads used the word “Break” to signify both breaktime and breaking a finger off the Kit Kat bar… but it wasn’t until 1957 that the iconic slogan was coined.
In spite of losing the iconic slogan after a brief legal battle in 2004, Kit Kat recently reclaimed the line and proudly uses the same slogan it had nearly 60 years ago.
Read next: Kit Kat’s marketing strategy
3. California Milk Processor Board – Got Milk?
…was popularized by Michael Bay (yes, THAT Michael Bay)
Agency: Goodby Silverstein & Partners
“Got Milk” began as a tagline from a series of ads featuring people struggling uncomfortably after having dry or sticky treats without any milk to wash it down.
The slogan almost didn’t make the cut. Staff at the ad agency deemed it “lazy” and “grammatically incorrect”. The first run of award-winning ads with this slogan were directed by Michael Bay.
A year after the slogan was introduced, a total of 2.8 billion gallons of milk were sold in the California region.
4. M&Ms – Melts in your mouth, not in your hand
… is the world’s favourite slogan
Agency: Ted Bates
This slogan debuted in 1954 with Peanut M&Ms. It was coined to set their candies apart from its competitors, whose candies would leave unpleasant sticky messes on consumers’ fingers.
A survey by researchers from Texas Tech University recently found that M&M’s slogan was the most well liked slogan in history of advertising.
5. De Beers – A Diamond is forever
… was born in a moment of desperation
Agency: N.W. Ayer
This famous slogan was coined in a moment of desperation after Frances Gerety found that she had forgotten to include a signature line in her series of advertisements for De Beers.
The slogan worked. After just two years, sales of diamonds in the United states rose by 55%, and diamond engagement rings had become a cultural mainstay.
“A Diamond Is Forever” was named Slogan Of The Century by Advertising Age in 1999 – two weeks before it’s copywriter died at the age of 83.
6. Avis – We Try Harder
… was inspired by being the number one loser
Agency: Doyle Dane Bernbach
In 1962, Avis fully embraced its position as America’s 2nd largest car rental company with the slogan “We Try Harder”.
In the following year, the campaign helped the company go from losing $3.2m to turning a profit of $1.2m for the first time in over 13 years.
After five decades, Avis finally retired the tagline in favor of “It’s Your Space”.
7. Wheaties – Breakfast of Champions
… had a hold on 90% of NBA players
Since 1933, Wheaties has featured pictures of famous athletes on its cereal boxes with the slogan “Breakfast Of Champions”.
The box designs and slogan made the brand synonymous with professional sports – countless athletes wanted to be identified as “Champions”.
In the 1939 All-Star NBA game, 46 of the 51 players endorsed Wheaties.
8. L’oreal – Because you’re worth it
… was pivotal in gender equality
Agency: McCann Erickson
L’Oreal’s slogan began as “Because I’m Worth It”, and was the first ever advertising slogan written from a woman’s perspective.
The slogan evolved into “Because You’re Worth It” after market research showed some women found the original line too boastful for their tastes.
It further evolved in 2009 into “Because we’re worth it”, following an effort to brand L’Oreal as a lifestyle and philosophy for empowered women.
9. Las Vegas Conventions And Visitor’s Authority – What Happens Here, Stays Here
… a calculated move in the city of gamblers
Agency: R&R Partners
A year’s worth of research by the Las Vegas Conventions And Visitor’s Authority found the emotional bond between Las Vegas and it’s customers was freedom – particularly the freedom to do what they couldn’t have done at home.
“What Happens Here, Stays Here” was coined to brand Las Vegas as a place people could go wild without consequence.
Every $1 spent on advertising campaigns with this slogan has generated $26 in returns for the city.
10. Gillette – The Best a Man Can Get
… fixed nearly a century of brand confusion
In its early years, Gillette’s advertising efforts fumbled between promoting the brand’s masculinity and the quality of its products.
“The Best a Man Can Get” combined the two facets into one and revitalized the brand.
The slogan, translated in 14 languages, was widely used for over a decade and allowed Gillette to dominate the shaving industry.