Inclusive, Inspirational Marketing Campaigns: Three Simple Things All Businesses Can Learn From Sports Slogans

These three tips from sports marketing campaigns can help your business. Slogans, taglines, failed attempts to be clever—we have all fallen victim to the roller coaster of marketing campaigns that bombard us day in and day out. Most of the time, we just disregard them. But when campaigns are completely off base, grammatically appalling or just plain incorrect, they give us pause.  When one such gem crosses my path, I tend to blurt out mid-conversation, “Wait, that doesn’t even make sense!” or “Seriously?” or “What the …” and then cannot seem to stop obsessing about the misuse of a word, horrid attempt at humor or major miss.

While we can bash and criticize until the cows come home—which is a commonly misused idiom because where I’m from, the cows come home quite often—I cannot seem to shake the recent “wins” among sports marketing campaigns. Granted, I am enamored by the sports world—Runner’s World addict, college football junkie (Husker bred, Duck educated) and proud resident of Broncos Country. But with weak clichés and disjointed slogans more prevalent than posts about Richard Sherman, even the non-sports observer must admit that these campaigns hit home runs when most are striking out:

  • United in Orange: Whether you are from Broncos Country or not, after this past Sunday, you most likely know what “United in Orange” means. Created last season, the slogan unites more than fans—it rallies supporters and even non-football followers behind a team (the Denver Broncos, for those of you who live on Mars). The beauty of the slogan is that, at the end of the day, we’re all together supporting a team … and a dream. Prior to the AFC Championship Game, clients sent emails with signatures “Go Broncos” and grocery shoppers were clad in team gear. Denver International Airport touted signage and a greeting from John Elway, while Friday rallies in downtown Denver became customary in January.
  • Boston Strong: Turning a tragedy into a collective effort to support the victims  of the Boston Marathon bombing, “Boston Strong” has echoed support and united people from around the world. From shirts to buses to benefit concerts, the slogan has spanned products, generations and countries. And while the bombing was nearly 10 months ago, the rally cry continues to connect, move and motivate. Just recently, the Massachusetts House passed a bill to allow motorists to buy “Boston Strong” license plates with proceeds going to victims of the bombing. While the slogan is not incredibly original (“Colorado Strong” popped up during the 2012 wildfires), it works.
  • Win the Day: Originating at the University of New Hampshire and then adopted as the University of Oregon slogan under Chip Kelly in 2007, “Win the Day” continues to pervade the Ducks football program. While the team’s uniforms change more often than the weather patterns, the Ducks have stayed committed to “Win the Day” as it captures the essence of their program and the passion of their fans.

Three Tips for Slogans … and Solid Marketing Campaigns

So what can you learn about these three sports campaigns when it comes to your brand or slogan?

It’s really quite simple:

  • Think inclusion not seclusion. While we all want to pretend like we’re in a prestigious club once in a while, the reality is that we’re all better together. Consider impact through inclusiveness. “Boston Strong” might initially hit home with runners or Boston residents, but, at the end of the day, it connects us all.
  • Consider the phrase, “Less is more.” Stop trying to put every feature about your company or product into your tagline. Keep it simple. Of the examples I used above, the maximum number of words used is three. Think Twitter on a super diet. Better yet, start thinking in the hashtag vernacular.
  • Be clever …  but not too cliché. Seriously, how many more campaigns are going to use “Got ______?” while trying to be original? Okay, I used “Boston Strong” as an example above, which some could argue is cliché since slogans like “Colorado Strong” exist … the point to remember is that rarely will using a phrase like “Got ____” or “______ Strong” work in future campaigns. However, while originality is priceless, don’t spend countless hours trying to figure “it” out  only to waste valuable time and end up with garbage (not to mention giving yourself a headache). Give it time. It will come to you. Or, it will come to someone like me so you can focus on what you do best.

Thoughts? Let me know. While I type a big game, I’m as eager for insight and tips as a rookie playing Short-Season A ball.

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