25 Mar/15

Slogan

The fact that Mr. Kipling has “exceedingly good cakes” or that the British public should “keep calm and carry on” demonstrate the effectiveness of today’s word. While a slogan may not be as important as building a quality product- British Leyland had plenty of slogans- a well-known slogan can be highly important in creating brand awareness and the essential link with potential consumers.

To properly identify this word though, perhaps we might use a slogan that will be popularly used over the world today: Kiss me, I’m Irish. Originally, the term slogan, or previously “slogorne,” comes from the Gaelic sluagh-ghairm (army cry or the more familiar battle cry) that was used by the Scottish and Irish clans. Logically, this makes sense when you consider the intention of modern slogans to get a target group to understand and identify with a certain ideal or product through the use of a singular, effective phrase or visualisation.

Aside from their obvious importance in the business world, slogans can also be a force in shaping social and political issues. For example, few phrases have been able to capture the solidarity and mortification of recent terrorist attacks in Western Europe like “je suis Charlie”. Moreover, when talking about wealth disparity, few use the terms “rich and poor” anymore, while the slogan most often used is “the 1% and the 99%.” In politics, a slogan that sticks with people and excites the base of party supporters is essential: whether Labour’s “A Better Plan. A Better Future” slogan will translate into a better showing than some of the somewhat misguided and lukewarm slogans of 2010, like “Don’t let him (Cameron) take Britain back to the 1980s,” remains to be seen.

When it originally arrived in English, the word maintained its source meaning, as can be seen in its first known usage by Gavin Douglas in a 1513 vernacular translation of Vergil’s Aeneid, “The slogorne, war-cry, or the watch cry.” According to James Maidment, the first usage of slogan in a non-traditional meaning occurred in 1704 in A Book of Scottish Pasquils, stating that “Your slogans are falsehood and plunder.” As time progressed though, the use of slogans has not diminished, as Lord Macaulay wrote in 1859, “The popular slogans on both sides were indefatigably repeated;” however, there’s always a risk of becoming overloaded, as Pritchett wrote in A Cab at the Door, “All sects have their jargon and Father, eager as an advertising man is for slogans, had picked them all up and lived by them.”