Myth #1: Great banking slogans have to be short.
Reality: While having a short slogan can aid memorability, the majority of financial slogans are between three and five words long. The average slogan or tagline in banking has four words. In fact, only 12% of bank and credit union slogans are two words long, and The Financial Brand has only found eight slogans in the entire banking world that are just one word long.
The most important factor defining a slogan’s greatness is its underlying concept. Does it make a promise? Does it convey a benefit? Does it tell a story? Sometimes, the story you may want to tell will take more than four or five words. This famous slogan for Mastercard is a whopping 12 words long:
- “There’s some things money can’t buy. For everything else, there’s Mastercard.”
Check out The Financial Brand’s database of over 1,100 slogans and taglines for banks and credit unions around the world.
Myth #2: One type of slogan is better than another.
Reality: Many people argue that a slogan should be “catchy,” but that’s a very subjective concept. What makes a slogan catchy? Rhyming? Alliteration?
There are really only four criteria that go into a great slogan or tagline. The best slogans are 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.
Before PNC bought National City Bank, National City had one of the best brands in banking. National City was a great example of a bank that delivered on its brand slogan, “Banking Made Simple.” Simplifying banking is a great brand promise, because most consumers think banking sucks, and they’d prefer to spend as little time managing their finances as possible. What’s more, National City was fully committed to this brand promise. They did everything they could to simplify banking tasks — chopping out steps, streamlining processes, making more intuitive interfaces, keeping forms short, etc.
For the thousands upon thousands of slogans and taglines that have been- and are being used in the financial industry, they all fall into one of a few basic categories:
- Extend a promise. U.S. Bank. – “Five Star Service Guaranteed”
- Convey a benefit. American Express – “Do more.”
- Amplify a difference. AIG – “We know money.”
- Acknowledge a truth. Abbey National Bank – “Because life’s complicated enough.”
- Express character or personality. Merrill Lynch – “Be bullish.”
- Reflect values or focus. First Citizens Bank – “We value relationships.”
- Three. Word. Tagline. Standard Bank – “Simpler. Better. Faster.”
- Serve as a rallying cry. WaMu – “Whoo hoo!”
- 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. Nearly one-third of all bank and credit union slogans include the word “bank” or “financial.” This is counterproductive. After all, one of the central tenets of branding is to stand out and create differentiation. You’re supposed to “zig” when everyone else is “zagging.” If every financial institution looks the same, sounds the same, says the same things, and sells the same stuff, consumers can’t tell one financial institution from another. This is how banks and credit unions turn into a commoditized category, where the only factor in people’s decisions hinges on price — interest rates and fees.
Here is a word cloud of the most common words used in bank and credit union slogans:
This visual map was created from the slogans listed in The Financial Brand’s massive database of bank and credit union taglines. The words that occur most commonly in financial slogans are relatively larger in scale. The words used most frequently include 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. There is no “branding rule” that says every bank and credit union absolutely must have a slogan, tagline, or catchphrase. However, slogans are very useful branding tools that smart marketers use to shape people’s perceptions of their brand, and influence people’s feelings about the organization. Using a slogan or tagline consistently over the years is a great way to associate your brand with a specific marketing message that can help you differentiate your company’s brand.