Usually, I write my weekly blog, look to see if I receive any comments and then, within a couple of days, I’m thinking about what to cover in the next one. But not this week.
Last Tuesday, I posted a blog about the Four-Way Test, 24 simple words that form the motto by which Rotarians strive to live their lives and it got me thinking about how certain words, mottos, sayings, phrases and slogans can affect us and the way we view things.
I’m sure you’ve all heard the quotes:
“No one can make you feel inferior without your consent.”
– Eleanor Roosevelt
“You’ve gotta dance like there’s nobody watching,
Love like you’ll never be hurt,
Sing like there’s nobody listening,
And live like it’s heaven on earth.”
– William W. Purkey
“I’ve learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.”- Mava Angelou
"That which does not kill us makes us stronger.” – Friedrich Nietzsche
For some reason, quotes like these have been repeated over and over again. They resonate with us at certain times and seem to portray exactly what we might want to say. I also got to thinking about the way Mission Statements are written in order to define your purpose, inspire and still be attainable and Vision statements that are focused on the future and express the values and hopes of your business.
If we have a business, we look for the most impactful way to advertise our products and services. We seek to come up with slogans that people will remember and recognise asconnected to our product. Wouldn’t it be great if we could think of a slogan as memorable as one of these? “For Everything Else, There’s MasterCard”, Ronseal – “It Does Exactly What it Says on the Tin”, Nike – “Just Do It” and Apple’s “Think Different”.
The way we use words can express our feelings, our opinions and our values. That’s why we have to choose them carefully. So much damage can be done to us personally and in business if we are not conscious of the way our words can be interpreted. We all know that words can be misinterpreted, especially if they are written down.
As Alyssa Mertes explains, in her article “Top 10 Effective and Ineffective Advertising Slogans” on the Quality Logo Products website September 2011, sometimes companies get it wrong.
From her piece, I’ve chosen these examples:
“Volkswagen: “Relieves Gas Pains.”
Whether or not it was intentional, there’s a very distracting double innuendo in their slogan. Humor works well for an advertisement or slogan if that’s part of the brand’s personality. However, Volkswagen has never been known to be particularly comical as a company.
Old Spice: “Smell Better Than Yourself.”
This slogan is a real head-scratcher to say the least. How can you possibly smell better than yourself? It is strongly implied that, on a basic level, you don’t typically smell all that great. After using Old Spice products you’ll smell better, but by how much? There’s way too much thinking behind this slogan.
Hoover: “It Beats as it Sweeps as it Cleans.”
Nine times out of ten, a catchy song can make even the worst situation a little bit better. Unfortunately, that’s not the case with “It Beats as it Sweeps as it Cleans.” The jingle is extremely strange and lacks any kind of rhythm whatsoever. Just like your Aunt Cheryl when she tried doing the Cha Cha Slide at your wedding.”
Whether we are trying to convey the aims of your business, your organisation or other aspect of your life, we have to make sure we are conveying the right message and it pays to make it a positive one and ensure that it doesn’t offend or make false claims.
If you are engaged in writing a slogan, a statement about your business or some other avenue you are pursuing, it really wouldn’t hurt to go back to the words of that Four –Way Test and use them as a guideline: Is it the Truth? Is it fair to all concerned? Will it build goodwill and better friendships? Will it be beneficial to all concerned?
About the Author
Martin Parnell is the Best-Selling author of MARATHON QUEST and RUNNING TO THE EDGE and his final book in the Marathon Trilogy, THE SECRET MARATHON-Empowering women and girls in Afghanistan through sport, was released on October 30th 2018. He speaks on having a “Finish the Race Attitude – Overcoming Obstacles to Achieve Your Full Potential” and has written for, or been covered by CNN, BBC, CBC, The Huffington Post, The Globe and Mail, The National Post, Runners World, Men’s Journal, Canadian Business, and Maclean’s.
In a five year period, from 2010 to 2014, Martin completed 10 extreme endurance “Quests” including running 250 marathons in one year and raising $1.3m for the humanitarian organization Right To Play. In 2016 he ran the Marathon of Afghanistan in support of Afghan women and girls running for equality. Find out more about Martin at www.martinparnell.com and see what he can do for you in the long run.