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The Good, The Bad and The Ugly of Three-Word Slogans

Hands up all those who are bored of the three-word/three phase slogans now?

Our newspaper headlines and broadcast updates have been flooded in recent weeks, with campaigning rhetoric distilled into three words (or three demands).


We’ve seen Stay At Home (and it’s longer fuller cousin of Stay home, protect the NHS, save lives).

We’ve had Stay Alert, Control the Virus, Save Lives.

And then there’s been Back To Work.

Oh and, Don’t Kill Granny.

And not to mention Build Back Better.

Or of course, Test And Trace.

So what’s the deal with short snappy messaging of this nature?


Do they actually work as a method of sweeping the population along with the author of the communication? Do they have sufficient effect with every brand and business wanting to prompt a particular behaviour?


Well, the truth is, they’re a pretty obvious way of penetrating our psyche and implanting a directive in a short-form manner which more of us are likely to remember.


When the messaging of any brand or campaign has the outside chance of being a little complex, misunderstood, or overlooked, then the simpler we can keep it for our intended audience – and the most memorable – the better.


And of course, let’s not forget that by coming up with straplines and campaign phrases of this nature, we also achieve a great deal in respect of onward media delivery.


After all, something explained in short and sharp sentences, ideally with the simplest of word structure, is a headline writer’s dream.


You might of course be very cynical about the effectiveness of such a tactic, but have a think about the three worders you actually do remember.


For example, you can probably recall Tony Blair’s insistent Education, Education, Education.

Or Churchill’s Britain Needs You.

Or maybe Her Majesty’s (borrowed) We’ll Meet Again.

And, let’s not forget – it’s not merely a mantra designed for politicians and royals.


What’s one of the top global brands which springs to mind when you think of a company who smashes it out of the park for being memorable?


Yes, Nike.

And where do they sit on three words?

JUST. DO. IT

But do we have patience for many more three-word phrases from the British government?


Good question.


I guess we’ll just….

WAIT AND SEE.

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