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Four Myths About Bank & Credit Union Slogans

Here’s a companion to The Financial Brand’s compilation, The Biggest List of Financial Slogans Ever.

Let’s take a look at the types of financial slogans out there, and four myths people commonly apply when picking a financial slogan.

Myth #1: Great slogans have to be short.

Reality: While having a short slogan can aid memorability, the majority of financial slogans are 4- or 5-words long.

The most important factor defining a slogan’s greatness seems to be its underlying concept. Does it tell a story? Sometimes, the story you may want to tell will take more than four or five words.

  • “There’s some things money can’t buy. For everything else, there’s Mastercard.”

Myth #2: One type of tagline is better than another.

Reality: There are four things a great slogan should be — unique, relevant, credible and memorable. Other than that, there are no rules.

Unfortunately, many slogans fail one or more of these criteria. Some because they use vapid or common terms. Some have a message that doesn’t mean much. And others fail the credibility test because the brand doesn’t live up to the slogan’s promise.

Check out NationalCity. They are a good example of a financial institution delivering on its slogan, “Banking Made Simple.”

For the thousands upon thousands of taglines that have been- and are being used in the financial industry, they all fall into one of a few basic categories:

  1. Extend a promise. U.S. Bank. – “Five Star Service Guaranteed”
  2. Convey a benefit. American Express – “Do more.”
  3. Amplify a difference. AIG – “We know money.”
  4. Acknowledge a truth. Abbey National Bank – “Because life’s complicated enough.”
  5. Express character or personality. Merrill Lynch – “Be bullish.”
  6. Reflect values or focus. First Citizens Bank – “We value relationships.”
  7. Three. Word. Tagline. Standard Bank – “Simpler. Better. Faster.”
  8. Serve as a rallying cry. WaMu – “Whoo hoo!”
  9. Ask a question? Capital One – “What’s in your wallet?”

Many of the most effective slogans share one trait in particular: They have been used consistently for many years.

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Myth #3: Financial slogans need to sound financial.

Reality: “Sounding financial” is a surefire way to blend in.

Here is a visual map of the most common words used in financial slogans:

This visual map was created from the slogans listed in The Biggest List of Financial Slogans Ever. The words that occur most commonly are relatively larger in scale. The most common words are bank, money, people, make, banking, better, life, together, tomorrow, ideas, know, first, get, just, financial, things, etc.

You can almost mashup any two or three words in the cluster and you’re well on your way to making a slogan that sounds financial.

Myth #4: You must have a slogan.

Reality: No you don’t.

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All content © 2014 by The Financial Brand and may not be reproduced by any means without permission.

Comments

  1. Love the tag cloud. Guessing it came from Wordle.net?

    Keep defying those myths about financial branding. You’re doing the entire industry a favor.

    My favorite of your four is the last item. Lots of people get caught up in being ‘creative’ and sloganizing brands when they shouldn’t. As you mention, having a slogan is not essential, but it can provide value for your brand if you do it right.

  2. Yes Mike, the cloud came from Wordle.net. A very cool tool.

  3. Very interesting edition to your earlier post. This is a very enlightening dual-post to read because it helps me think about all the slogans I have worked on and seen in the past while enabling me (and everyone else in the industry) to create better slogans in the future.

    I also love the tag cloud! I have never heard of Wordle, so I am very excited to have been introduced to this super neato tool.

    Thanks for the great post!

  4. Thanks Melina. It started as a simple concept. I was going to outline the types of financial taglines out there and give a few examples… By the time I was done, I had more than enough for two articles.

  5. Fair point about Mastercard’s longish slogan, but the far more memorable catch-phrase is a single word — “Priceless.”

  6. The Wordle cloud is amazing. I cite this example:

    http://tinyurl.com/6jmer6

    Get it?

    Loved the article, Jeffry. A lesson a LOT of people need.

  7. @Eric – Priceless is one of those rare slogans that transcended the world of advertising by becoming part of pop-culture — a marketer’s dream.

    The interesting thing about both Priceless and …For everything else, there’s Mastercard is that they are saying the same thing and supporting the same basic concept. The only difference is that the old, longer version tells the whole story by itself, while the new, shorter one is a one-word summary of a story that requires greater context.

    I wonder what the results would be if you asked 500 people, “Who uses the slogan ‘Priceless’?” I wonder how many would say “Mastercard” even after you described one of the spots — “You know, the announcer at the end says, ‘Getting to see all 48 baseball parks…Priceless’?”

    @Jimmy – That’s subtle, but funny.

  8. Really enjoyed this article/post.

    I was fortunate enough to be part of creative team behind “Shining Solutions” for Central Star as well as “Exceptional Service. Extraordinary People.” for Enrichment FCU in Oakridge, TN and a few others.

    I think you’re spot-on with your Myth’s listed above. So often Board members and upper management try to stear the creative to a more stuffy, financial approach to a tagline/slogan. I think each financial institution has it’s own unique DNA, and this needs to permeate everything it does – especially the slogan.

  9. Thanks for compiling the list of bank and credit union taglines and providing a vehicle for others to be submitted. I’m a major believer in the necessity of a tagline. After all, it costs nothing to have one and it can become an integral part of your company name and logo. I,too, have been collecting bank and credit union taglines for several years. The list contains some taglines not on your list. You can find it at http://www.actonfs.com/blog. In your guide to developing a tagline you might want to mention the importance of avoiding taglines that are too promissory or unbelievable. One such example that comes to mind is “The world’s greatest bank” used by Umpqua Bank. On the other hand, “America’s Most Convenient Bank” now used by TD Bank is easily supported. Over the years I’ve found that too many bank and credit union taglines are basically meaningless. A lot of thought needs to be given to selecting a great tagline. And above all, once you have a great one, to the extent possible, never change it. And while it rarely applies to banks and credit unions, another tagline category is “explains the business you are in.” Often, a company name doesn’t tell the consumer what business you are in. For example, when amazon.com was first started, the tagline was “World’s largest bookstore.” Nobody knew what an amazon.com was but everybody knows what a large bookstore is. Of course, now that amazon.com has gotten into other lines of business, the original tagline becomes obsolete. Thanks, again, for focusing a light on the role and importance of a tagline.

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