Slogans can make or break your campaign.

Question 1 on the Maine ballot is a complex one that affects people’s lives in a profound way. It’s also polarizing, with each side providing compelling emotional stories to support their beliefs.

Believe me when I tell you that the success of No on 1, securing 73% of the votes, was based largely on their slogan. Protect Maine Children addresses their beliefs in a clear, emotional, and unifying way. No one can argue that we all want to protect our children.

What the Yes on 1 campaign failed to convey was that Mainers have already been protecting children for 200 years, voluntarily, and with civil liberties intact. Maine kids are healthy, hardy, outdoorsy… and had Yes on 1 won, also free.

And since we can learn a lot more from our failures than from successes, here are ways the Yes on 1 campaign failed and the marketing lessons we can learn from that. Consider these points when coming up with slogans for your companies and organizations.

  1. Clarity. Yes on 1 had two slogans. Reject Big Pharma and Restore Medical Freedom muddied the waters with one too many messages. One strong message is better than several diluted ones.
  2. Emotion. The words “Big Pharma” and “Medical Freedom” are cold and distant concepts. Protect Maine Children exuded a warmth that comes from the heart, never mind that the way they propose to do so is by mandating medical procedures on a rigid schedule. Get to the heart of your mission and bring it home.
  3. Unity. The words “Big Pharma” and “Medical” are polarizing and divisive. Some people consider the medical world to be their savior, while others have been hurt by their procedures. Yes on 1 needed a slogan that would unify Mainers. A statement that says, “People like us do things this way.

So what would the process of brainstorming a slogan be like? Let’s begin by filling in the blank, “Mainers ___.”

Mainers protect their children. Great one, already taken.

Mainers defend freedom. Good one, and on the 200th anniversary of the birth of this state, a great one to uphold. How can we make it warmer and bring it home?

Mainers defend the freedom of Maine families.

Shorter and punchier version. Defend Maine families.

Now think about your company’s or organization’s slogan. Can it be better?

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