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These Three Words

Three Words web3

I often find myself mesmerized by commercials. Even though I am not involved in the video side of advertising, I will pause my DVR at certain time frames of a commercial and analyze the graphic elements used in a single frame translating it in my mind and thinking of how to recreate it – wondering how it would display itself in print or on the web. With this fascination I have noticed a growing trend among many advertisers, the use of the three word slogan or tagline.

Often a company will use a tagline with their brand or product to reinforce it. But what makes an effective tagline? From my research I found that effective taglines follow these guidelines: they create an emotional connection with their target audience; are short, simple, and easy to remember; honestly reflect the company brand or product; and present a positive attitude.

But why the growing trend of only using three words? Why not use seven or ten? suggests that four or five word taglines are the most memorable. My own theory was that with the excessive amounts of information we have available and short attention spans, companies decided that shorter was better. But then I learned about the infamous rule of three as explained here by Communication Specialist Lisa B. Marshall.

The rule of three is a very general rule in speaking, in writing, and in music, that states that concepts or ideas presented in threes are inherently more interesting, more enjoyable, and more memorable.

It’s no accident that the number three is pervasive in well-known stories: the three little pigs, the three musketeers, or the three wise men.

It’s no accident that you are likely familiar with these three-part quotes: “Life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness; “sex, drugs, & rock n’ roll”; “truth, justice, and the American way” (of course, these are the causes for which Superman fights).

It’s no accident that good stories have a beginning, middle, and end and that video games, films, and literature are often written as three connected works in the form of a trilogy.

My improv coach, Kristin Schier, explained the rule of three this way.  She said, “The first time you say something, it’s an incident, the second time you say something, it’s a co-incidence, but the third time you say something, it becomes a pattern”. In fact, she’s right, three is the smallest number of elements you need to create a pattern (or break a pattern).

Here are a few companies that I’ve noticed using the three word slogan/tagline. As you can see its use encompasses many industries and products.

PrintAudiPepsi07Subaru_LG_8.CMYK_Ver_R1LowesGERed LobsterGatoradeCentury 21ToyotaCoronaBudWalt DisneyAvis

Land RoverJCPennyBuffalo Wild WingsMcDonaldsNikeCoke Give It BackSherwin WilliamsSportsCenter

Honorable mention:

  •    Nissan- Innovation That Exists
  •    Ace- The Helpful Place
  •    E- Pop of Culture
  •    Reebok- Live With Fire
  •    WWE- Then, Now, Forever
  •    Toyota- Let’s Go Places
  •    Men’s Wearhouse- Let’s Go Places

For more information about taglines from the past, visit TaglineGuru.

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