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5 Forgotten English Class Terms That Transform a Slogan from Bland to Bold


Write a slogan for your business using a few tricks that would make any high school English teacher proud.
A woman sits outside preparing to write with pencil and paper.

Remember asking your English teacher “When am I ever going to use this?” as she went over yet another poetic term? Her answer probably wasn't “When you are developing a slogan for your own home business”—but that would've been a good response. (Come on, be honest, how long have you been staring at that blank sheet of paper?)

A good slogan will capture the essence of the company—but an accurate slogan will fall flat if it's not catchy. Those long-forgotten terms from your English class are a great way to liven up a boring company catch phrase. Here's a refresher on five terms that can give your savorless slogan a big boost (Like the way that sounds? Good, because #1 is alliteration).

Alliteration

Repeating sounds tend to make phrases roll smoothly off of the tongue. Alliteration is when those sounds are repeated at the beginning of the words. Boeing's “Forever New Frontiers” slogan is only three words long, but two of those words begin with the same sound. The alliteration gives helps the phrase flow and makes a simple phrase memorable.

Consonance and Assonance

Repeated sounds don't have to be just at the beginning of words, however. Consonance (consonants) and assonance (vowels) is the repetition of sounds within the words. Many famous slogans use consonance and assonance. Capital One's “What's in Your Wallet” repeats the "W" sound near the opening and the end of the phrase. “Cooks Who Know Trust Crisco” uses both with the "C" sound and long "O." Just like using alliteration, consonance and assonance helps a phrase flow.

Rhyme

Perhaps the first thing you thought of when you read “poetic term” was rhyme. Not all poetry has to rhyme, but rhyme can make a slogan more memorable. Just take “Oh Thank Heaven for 7-11!” for example. Rhymes don't have to be bold and obvious, however. Slant rhymes are “almost rhymes” and they can make a slogan stand out, too.

Rhythm

Remember making all those marks above the words in a line of poetry? Rhythm truly makes a slogan memorable—how many slogans set to music can you remember? Say the words in a possible slogan out load, paying attention to the rise and fall and the rhythm of the words. Can you imagine it set to music? If you can't, it needs more work on rhythm. Keep jotting down different word combinations until you find a rhythm you are happy with. Rhythm can give your slogan energy or bog it down.

Connotation

When you've settled on the words that have the right rhythm and the right rhyme, make sure they have the right connotation. A word's connotation deals not with the meaning of a word, but with the feelings behind it. Big and ginormous, small and scrawny—these sets have the same meaning, but completely different connotations. Make sure the words that have the right rhythm, alliteration etc. also have the right connotation. How do you want your customers to feel about your company? Make sure the words in your slogan portray that.

Having difficulty coming up the right words? Use a thesaurus and jot down the terms that describe your company, your goal and your product or service. Note words that rhyme or contain similar sounds and start from there.

Those forgotten terms from your English class can help your slogan stand out, but, please, don't use all five in one slogan. All good slogans will have the right connotations and a good rhythm, but using rhyme, alliteration, assonance and consonance in one slogan will most likely just weigh it down. Once you find one you like, test it out on some friends. What do they think of when they hear it? Can they repeat it back to you ten minutes later or is it easily forgotten?

And then, perhaps you should look up your old English teacher and tell him you actually used all those lessons.

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