Choosing a campaign slogan that represents why you are running for office can be a difficult decision. A campaign slogan should encapsulate why you are running and what you hope to accomplish all within a few words. Above all, the campaign slogan needs to be memorable and consistent with your campaign messaging.
Essentially, you need to pick a few words that summarize your campaign and what you hope to accomplish in a memorable and easy to understand way. If this sounds easy to you, or you have picked one out already, let me offer a few thoughts on how you can strategically pick a campaign slogan that you can feel confident about.
Creating a campaign slogan is more than picking out something that sounds good or recycling a political cliché you have seen on another candidate’s sign. Picking out a campaign slogan should be completed only after carefully considering why you are running and what you hope to accomplish along with comparing and contrasting your candidacy with your opponent(s).
Let’s kick this off by examining a few key points that you must consider when choosing your campaign slogan for your political campaign.
5 Tips for Choosing an Effective Campaign Slogan
1. Consistency with campaign messaging
If you have not heard of the “rule of 7”, it basically describes the need for someone to hear something seven times before they remember it. Your goal should be to embed your campaign slogan in every voter’s mind so when they fill out their ballot they can associate your name with that key phrase. Taking this into consideration, think about what phrase you could attach to your campaign that would motivate someone to vote for you.
Think of your campaign slogan as a thesis statement for your campaign. All other campaign messages and material should support your thesis for your campaign. If there is a disconnect between your campaign slogan and your supporting materials, both will be diluted, and voters may be confused at the polls.
2. It must be self-explanatory
Probably the most common mistake when choosing a campaign slogan is vagueness and lack of clarity. Campaign slogans should be self-explanatory and leave no room for misinterpretation. Avoid clichés. A bad example of this might be John Smith for Change. This type of cliché leaves room for interpretation. It is also vague and would leave voters wondering, what kind of change? Be very practical with choosing a campaign slogan. Focus on either your personality or what you hope to accomplish. An example of a campaign slogan that focuses on the issues would be: More Jobs. Less Government. It is very clear what this candidate stands for and leaves room for this candidate to create branches of campaign messaging off that. An example of a campaign slogan that focuses on a personality would be: Experience and Integrity. This too would allow you to branch off messaging and would very easily transition into your story and experience.
Overall, make sure your campaign slogan is clear, specific, and self-explanatory.
3. Be authentic
Authenticity must be present in you campaign. So many candidates struggle with coming across as relatable. Be yourself! Authenticity should be reflected in all campaign materials, but it can be hard to be authentic when the slogan of your campaign is generic and unrelatable. Ask friends and neighbors about issues that matter to them. Inquire about what is on their mind, what they would want changed, and what they would like to see in a leader. Use their feedback when crafting your campaign slogan. Choosing a campaign slogan that can be relatable and authentic, is extremely desirable.
I previously managed a state legislature campaign in the city of Bozeman MT. Bozeman is the most politically diverse city in the state and often flips between the two parties. While the city is home to a core group of Republicans and Democrats, there were significantly more voters who just wanted someone they could trust to do a good job and listen to their concerns. With this in mind, the candidate I was working for chose the campaign slogan, Bozeman’s Voice. The goal of this slogan was to ensure the voters that she would listen to their concerns and act as a voice for them if elected. Voters related to this slogan and the candidate tried to epitomize it as she knocked on doors and asked people what mattered most to them.
Be authentic. Voters do not like candidates who appear to be something they aren’t or appear as if they don’t understand their voters.
4. Keep it simple
This point is self-explanatory. Don’t over complicate it. Pick a campaign slogan that is simple so that everyone can understand what you are portraying and trying to accomplish. If it is over complicated, voters will be left confused and unsure of what you are trying to say. Try to keep your slogan under five words.
5. Make it memorable
When Obama ran for president in 2012, everyone knew his campaign slogan, Hope and Change. It was memorable in part because of its frequency of use (which we will talk about in a second) but also because it is catchy. Trump’s Making America Great Again is also one of the most memorable campaign slogans in presidential history. Both of these campaign slogans are memorable because of their combination of tips 1-4 listed above. Both Obama and Trump used their campaign slogan as a springboard for their campaign messaging which in part made it more memorable.
There is no sure way to test whether or not a campaign slogan is memorable, but I would recommend picking 2-3 finalists for your campaign slogan and sending them out to friends, family, and neighbors to see which one they respond to most. Ask them a series of questions: which one is most self-explanatory, which one is most authentic, which one is most simple, and which one is most memorable? Take all feedback seriously and use it to reach your final decision.
Example Campaign Slogans
Initially I planned on listing out some of the best campaign slogans I have seen. However, I have changed my mind, strictly because I don’t want candidates to take the easy road and pick a slogan that sounds good without putting in the effort to discover which one works best for their campaign. Picking a good campaign slogan isn’t easy. It takes thought, research, testing, and patience. It is much more than picking one off a list of examples. If you are picking a campaign slogan off a list, you are doing it the wrong way. Put in the effort and find a campaign slogan that truly encapsulates why you are running and why voters should care.
Where to use campaign slogan
You’ve got a campaign slogan you are happy with? Great! Let’s talk about how to use this campaign slogan throughout your campaign. Here are three of the most common questions:
Should I put my campaign slogan on my yard signs?
You definitely can. Unfortunately, you don’t have much room to work with on campaign signs. I’ve seen it work both ways. On one hand, having your campaign slogan on your sign can help engrain your messaging in your voter’s minds. On the other hand, it may dilute your signs and make them less impactful and too wordy.
Here is how I suggest deciding if you should put your campaign slogan on your yard signs: 1. If your slogan is more than four words, It doesn’t fit on a yard sign. 2. If your campaign slogan doesn’t fit with your logo/design, don’t put it on your yard sign. 3. Obtain a sketch of a yard sign with and without the campaign slogan and compare the two. Share it with family and friends. If the majority think it looks better without the slogan, don’t put it on the yard sign.
I encourage candidates to pick a campaign slogan that could be effectively used on a campaign yard sign because I believe that it could help the candidate reach voters with their campaign message. However, if you can’t make that happen, then it’s not the end of the world. There are plenty of other places to use your campaign slogan.
Using your campaign slogan on campaign materials.
All campaign materials should relate back to the campaign slogan. A voter probably won’t remember your life story, where you stand on most the issues, or everything you hope to accomplish if elected. If voters remember your name and campaign slogan, that is a huge win for your campaign. Your campaign slogan should serve as a springboard for all future campaign materials including, literature, ads, emails, speeches, etc.
Always tie everything back to your campaign slogan either directly, by repeating it, or indirectly, by supporting its message.
Using your campaign slogan on your campaign website.
Your campaign slogan should most definitely be used on your campaign website. As mentioned above, you should relate every possible medium used to communicate with voters back to the campaign slogan. Campaign websites should be viewed as the hub of your campaign. As voters wish to learn more about you and your campaign they should be able to find more on your website. If you are trying to figure out where to start on your campaign website, I recommend reading our blog, campaign websites 101.
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Best of luck to you and your campaign!