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The Slogan Trap

 

Disciplines > Brand management > The Slogan Trap

Description | Example | Discussion | See also

 

Description

Brands often use slogans as a part of the messaging. There is a danger that slogans can have a reverse effect, causing consumers to act in way contrary to the intended action.

Example

The Walmart brand says 'thriftiness', but their slogan 'Save money. Live better' actually encourages indulgence.

Discussion

Laran et al (2011) exposed subjects to luxury brands and then asked their spending intent. The subjects said they would spend on average 26% more than a control condition, which is what you might expect from a luxury brand. However, after reading luxury brand slogans (eg. 'Luxury, you deserve it'), they intended spending 26% less than the control.

The reverse was also found to be true.  After exposure to low-cost brands they decided to spend 37% less, but after reading low-cost slogans (eg. 'Dress for less'), they intended spending 29% more.

This seems to be caused by reverse priming, where the subjects realize that they are being manipulated and react against this, trying to correct the bias that they feel has been forced into their heads. The problem is that they over-react and end up with a choice that passes the neutral point, going well into negative territory. It is also possible that they do this deliberately as a punitive betrayal response.

This is an example of the Elaboration Likelihood Model in action, whereby the brand item itself is processed unquestioningly by the unconscious peripheral route. The slogan, however, being words, require more conscious central attention and meet with suspicion. Paradoxically, being a short message, this allows greater critical attention to it.

The implication is that great care is needed when crafting slogans. One route is creativity as it was found that subjects rating slogans as being more creative spent 58% more. The implication is that when they evaluate the slogan as simple manipulation, they react against it. But when the slogan has a more fun element to it, subjects will forgive the persuasive intent having been entertained and so reciprocating by accepting the message.

See also

Slogans (in Propaganda), Priming, Slogan (general), Reverse Psychology

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