Mottos: What They Are and Are Not

8 mins read

This article explains what a company motto is and also what it is not, along with examples of each.

What makes a business memorable? If you were to try and think of your favourite companies and brands, there are many different things that may pop in your mind that you associate with them. For some companies you may picture an image or a colour, while others you may picture the products or services you interact with. For some of the strongest brands it is a phrase that will pop into your mind; this memorable phrase is usually their motto. Let’s take a look at what a motto is and isn’t, along with examples to better understand the good the bad and the ugly for business mottos.

What is a Motto?

Your motto, also called a slogan, is a short descriptive phrase that represents the ideals or beliefs your company represents. The motto for many businesses often becomes the tagline they are recognized for. Your business motto outlines what you want your venture to be and should inspire stakeholders to achieve desirable outcomes. The purpose of a business motto is mainly for marketing your brand and company. While your logo is part of the visual representation of your brand, your motto is the verbal representation. Most of all, your motto should be short and memorable. The simpler you can keep your motto, the easier it will be for people to remember.

Here are two examples of strong company mottos:

“Just do it.”

This is arguably one of the most memorable business mottos. When someone asks to think of a company tagline, this is most likely one of the first brands that will pop into people’s minds. That alone says enough about the strength of Nike’s motto, job well done! Beyond that, the motto supports what Nike promotes as a brand. Being mainly involved in activewear and sportswear, they are telling people to get moving and get active – just do it!

“I’m Lovin’ It.”

This motto is so effective we can hear the theme music playing as we think about it! If the goal of a motto is to be memorable and allow consumers to associate it with the company, then McDonald’s has aced it with their business motto. This is also a great example of a brand that has a highly recognized visual logo to accompany their strong motto. When we see the golden arches, we think “I’m Lovin’ It”, and when we hear “I’m Lovin’ It”, we picture the golden arches – both of which end with most people’s mouths watering from imagining the McDonald’s food they want to consume.

What isn’t a Motto?

A motto is not simply made by putting words together that sound good or catchy. While the slogan “keep it simple, stupid” can be considered memorable by many people, it can also be seen as offensive to some, while being irrelevant to others. A motto is not just a memorable phrase; it must also be a phrase that people associate with your brand or company. A motto must be a saying that your brand is recognized for. Truly, what’s the point of someone remembering a catchy phrase you’ve come up with if they don’t think of your brand as well?

A Motto is not:

    • A full sentence
    • Random words that sound good together with no meaning
    • A full-page description of your business
    • A Vision Statement
    • A Mission Statement
    • Similar to other brand’s mottos – be unique!
    • Your company story
    • Inconsistent – you want this to be your business motto for the long-haul
    • Something to forget after writing – should be promoted to everyone in the organization for alignment, and should be memorable

Here are 2 examples of mottos that do not fulfill their purpose:

“Delivering customer-centric e-commerce solutions.”

This motto tells consumers what the company does with absolutely no excitement. After reading this, it’s easily forgotten! This is more of a mission statement, as it is telling the consumer what the company is wanting to achieve. Also, using a term such as e-commerce in the motto would not be a good idea as many people do not understand or know what e-commerce is. If people are having to work hard to figure out what your marketing is trying to say, they may choose a competitor who explains things plainly. This could have been made into a simple, understandable, and memorable motto with “Made to get paid”.

“We have the best products and provide the best service.”

This is an example of a motto that is far from memorable. Nothing about that sentence is exciting, and it doesn’t leave the reader wanting to know more about the company or brand. Most companies think they have the best products and services, or else why would they have started their business in the first place. The motto doesn’t intrigue us to find out why they have the best products or services. The motto should leave us wanting to know more about what the company provides if we don’t already know, there is nothing in this statement to peak curiosity.

Is Your Motto Memorable?

You now have more information about what exactly a business motto is, and what a motto isn’t. While it may look like a simple phrase to some, we understand that it is tricky to express what you want about your company in 4 or 5 words while at the same time trying to make it catchy enough to be memorable. While it may seem like a daunting equation to crack, you can make it happen with the right formula including some time, effort, and thinking. If you have yet to create a motto for your company, we hope that this article has provided you some valuable insight into what goals your motto should accomplish. If your company already has a motto, then we challenge you to ask the following question: “Is our company’s motto memorable?”

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