Whatever happened to the advertising slogan? It hasn’t disappeared; you still see endlines under quite a few logos.

McDonalds still says “I’m lovin’ it”. Barack Obama used “Change you can believe in” to help him get elected. And a lot of local brands here in the UK continue to use endlines/straplines/slogans or whatever you want to call those little groups of words.

But it seems to me there are a lot fewer of them about these days. And the ones that are used tend to serve just as positioning statements – e.g. HP Invent or Peugeot Motion & Emotion – rather than as catchy slogans.

Many brands use endlines half-heartedly. They don’t take them seriously as a branding tool. The lines just fill the space under the logo, as if the brand manager doesn’t care whether they can own those words or people remember them.

Below are some examples to show what I mean – a random selection taken from ads in this past Sunday Times’ colour supplement.

Do you think these endlines are good?

(For a furniture store) You’re in safe hands

(For Croatia tourism) Sounds good

(For a furniture maker) Designed for you

I believe the endlines above are far too generic to be ownable. And they’re too bland to be memorable. The ads featuring them would probably have been better without any words at all next to their logos.

Apple's old endline. Currently they don't use one

Of course, some famous brands have decided to dispense with their endlines.

Apple, for example, used to say “Think different”. Now everyone has seen plenty of evidence that Apple thinks differently. (And besides, so many people are buying Apple products these days that, in a way, the line no longer makes sense.) So Apple has decided to sign off its adds with just the apple graphic and no words.

Then there’s Nike’s “Just do it”. They did it for so long that the brand no longer needs to use the endline. We all think of it when we see the Nike swoosh.


VW 1960s ad: no endline, no logo - not even a product shot

VW has done the opposite to Apple and Nike. Back in the 1960s it didn’t have an endline. (Sometimes it didn’t even have a logo in its ads. How many advertisers can you imagine doing that these days?) For the past decade or so, though, VW in the UK has used a number of different endlines. These range from “Born out of obsession” to the more recent “Das Auto”.

So, what is the purpose of an endline?

An endline is a summation of what your brand stands for. On an ad it reinforces the message and helps you remember it.


Recently though,  I was reminded that an endline performs another very important function:

An endline is a rudder for your brand, steering its course

A good endline helps steer your brand. Photographer: Elsie esq. Click photo

I’ve been helping a client develop their brand tone of voice with a style of copy that will have a certain tone.

Right now, their copy lacks a personality. It isn’t distinctive, and its tone could easily drift around.

The trouble is, the brand doesn’t have an endline. I believe having one would be a big step to solving the problem with the copy.

Just like a rudder steering a ship, a good, strong endline will determine a copy’s direction and help keep it on course.

What is a good endline?

An effective strapline is inextricably linked with the brand. It should be catchy or touch an emotion.

Some endlines are clearly branded, e.g. for Typhoo tea, “You only get an ‘oo’ with Typhoo”. Others, like “Just do it”, only become permanently connected with the brand name in our minds after the brand has been heavily advertised.

The best endlines sit at the end of an ad and complement everything that precedes them. They often spark off ideas, and become central to a campaign – e.g. The last place you want to go (Dixons), Smell like a man, man (Old Spice), Be Stupid (Diesel) – rather than just being an afterthought.

A great endline that generated an advertising campaign

Here are two great endlines that sparked off long-running campaigns:

Australians wouldn’t give a XXXX for any other beer

Heineken refreshes the parts other beers cannot reach

Notice how long those lines are – they’re proper slogans – compared with endlines today, which tend to be three or four words at the most. I think the lines above are more memorable than a lot of those shorter ones, don’t you?

Of course, there are great short ones, too, like John Lewis’s Never Knowingly Undersold, but it’s not one that sparks off advertising ideas, is it?

What is a bad endline?

It’s one you can’t own or that isn’t memorable. If the line contains a promise or positioning that others in your market can rightfully use, make sure you don’t use it. And if it doesn’t express a memorable idea, or strike an emotional chord, find some different words.

So, when should you use an endline?

You may already have a brand that’s so distinctive, like Innocent, a UK fruit drinks company, or so famous, like Nike, that it doesn’t need an endline. At least not for now. Innocent just uses a product description (“little tasty drinks” – not really a slogan).

However, if your brand is relatively new in its market, or you need to change its positioning, or your copy lacks a distinctive tone of voice, then an endline could make a big difference to your brand’s development.

Even if you don’t do much advertising, a good, strong endline on your website and stationery will help your prospective customers understand what your brand stands for.

If you need help with your endline, please email me, or call me on: ………………… …. +44 (0) 7754 537 428

Your comments are welcome

Would you like to share a brilliant endline? Do you disagree with anything I’ve said? Please add your thoughts below.

Further reading

I recommend this excellent article by Al Ries, Strength In Length: The Long Slogan Advantage at Branding Strategy Insider





1 reply
  1. Katherine Jones
    Katherine Jones says:

    Great article! Good to see there are others out there acknowledging the value of a good endline and how essential they can be to a brand’s development.

    I agree, some endlines can be uninspiring but a good stand out slogan can breathe new life into a brand and make it stand out from competitors.

    I run a company called AdSlogans (http://www.adslogans.com). We were founded 20 years ago because we realised the importance of how slogans can play a defining role in creating an enduring image for a brand.

    AdSlogans do not create slogans. Our main purpose is to carry out research into the prior or current usage of slogans on behalf of advertising agencies looking to launch new campaigns. It is important to check whether your slogan idea is original and to avoid possible duplication with a competitor.

    You may be interested to look at our Hall of Fame which recognises over 125 slogans for their originality and dates back from the 1890’s to the present. We also run a Slogan of the Year competition which provides new inductees every year.

    My own personal favourite endline of recent times is ‘The last place you want to go’ for Dixons. An award winning campaign which caused some controversy ensuring a great deal of press coverage.

    Katherine Jones

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