Sam Horn - Intrigue

Friday, July 28, 2006

Is Your Slogan Memorable?

An article in The July 18th issue of USA Today addressed an alarming statistic. In the last ten years, 500 children have been killed in their own driveways – by someone “backing over” them by mistake.

This article discussed pending legislation that would require new standards for rear visibility on all vehicles including larger rear-view mirrors and sensors that sound a warning beep when the car is backing up (much like garbage trucks use.)

Kudos to the Safe Kids Worldwide program for giving their public education campaign a concise, compelling slogan.

What is their memorable slogan? “Spot the Tot.”

Truman Capote said, “ I’ve known all my life that I could take a bunch of words and throw them up in the air and they would come down just right.”

Good for Capote. For most of us, coming up with the right title and tagline takes longer. It’s worth the effort though because when we take the time to craft our message into words that rhyme, our message will be remembered over time.

If I asked you to think of the two instinctive human responses to danger, you might dredge up something you first heard decades ago in school . . . “fight or flight.” Part of why that phrase is so memorable is because it condenses an entire concept into a tight sound-bite featuring two rhyming words.

Are you developing a slogan for your cause, campaign, or company? Experiment with your key words until they settle into a phrase that features words that rhyme. Doing so, (i.e., "Shop until you drop") will help your message get noticed and get remembered.

Want more ways to craft slogans that get your point across in memorable ways? Visit for info about Sam’s upcoming book POP! Stand Out in any Crowd that provides 25 ways to develop Purposeful, Original, Pithy slogans that get your ideas and offerings the attention (and support and sales) they deserve.

Sunday, July 02, 2006

Heard This Laugh-Out-Loud Song Title?

I was listening to a jazz station on my way to play a round of golf with my buddies today, and caught the tail end of the name of a song they were about to play by Wynton Marsalis.

It instantly became my all-time favorite song title. Ready?

I Heard You Twice the First Time.

What a GREAT line.

Let’s analyze why it works so well.

1. It turns a common phrase on its head by replacing one of the core words with a substitute. You think you know where the title is going – and then it takes a verbal left turn. That’s the essence of humor. When we expect one thing and the communicator surprises us with something unexpected, it elicits an almost involuntary smile, chuckle, or guffaw

2. The substituted word is similar to the original word because it has also one syllable and a "long i." A verbal twist on a cliché works better when the new word sounds like the original word because there's a slight delay while we wonder, "Did I hear what I just heard?" When we discover we've been cleverly fooled, we are intellectually tickled.

3. Like good art, this line keeps revealing new layers the more we think about it. It has another “gotcha” by playing off the numbers twice and first. You can’t really hear someone twice the first time – however most of us “get” this anyway because most of us have been subjected to a long-winded monologue or a person who repeats everything they say.

4. This simple line also “says a lot in a little.” Comedian Steven Wright said, “My grandfather invented Cliff- Notes. It was in . .. well, to make a long story short.” This song title makes a l-o-n-g story short – 7 words to be exact – however we are eager to hear, as popular broadcaster Paul Harvey would say, “ . . . the rest of the story.”

That's the hallmark of a good title -- it gets your project's foot in your target audience's mental door and they can't wait to find out more.

What are some of your favorite song titles? They could be clever, laugh-out-loud funny, or evocative.

Submit them to this blog and I will feature the winner (with your permission) in an upcoming blog and give you a $50 gift certificate to be used for any of my books and CD’s at