In business, branding is everything.
A lot of thought goes into a company’s choice of name, trademark and slogan, and that slogan – the catchy way that it expresses its values, vision and purpose – influences how the organization is seen by its employees and customers.
Well-chosen slogans are sticky. We automatically associate them with the brand. Nike: Just do it. Kentucky Fried Chicken: Finger lickin’ good. Coke: It’s the real thing.
Those sticky ideas get into our heads – sometimes through creative commercials and advertising campaigns; often through shear repetition. They can have greater impact when spoken by charismatic or influential personalities.
Over time, we just accept them as part of our daily landscape, soundscape and mindscape. We eventually stop questioning their validity.
Therein lies the danger of slogans. We quickly adopt them as habits of thought. They shape our beliefs and influence how we see the world.
As children, memorable phrases can help us learn important rules and good behaviour. “I” before “e” except after “c”. Look both ways before you cross the street; use your eyes and use your ears, before you use your feet. An apple a day keeps the doctor away.
Through the power of habit, what we repeatedly think becomes our inclination. The connections between specific neurons are reinforced over time and like a well-travelled path become engrained.
This is fine when those habitual thoughts are true and useful. Unfortunately, we all carry personal slogans adopted from the past. They may have been said first by influential people, like parents or teachers, or you may have come up with them through past experiences. They are reinforced by self-talk: what we say to ourselves that shapes our opinions, feelings and actions.
Negative self-slogans that are never totally true and don’t help anyone include: “I’ll never be happy.” “I can’t control myself.” “I’m a loser.” “I can’t win.” “I’m not good enough.” “There’s something wrong with me.” “Those people are different.”
Negative self-slogans can limit your thoughts, narrow your perspective, shape your emotions and keep you from trying.
What are your limiting beliefs about yourself and others? In what ways are you heeding the slogans of past advertising campaigns of companies long out of business? Some of the things we bring forward from the past no longer apply or may never have been true. If you need help identifying negative self-talk, do what businesses do. Put together a small focus group of your best friends. Ask them what negative phrases you regularly use.
Try out some new slogans. Here are some of mine. “Be an agent of positive change.” “We were made to move. When we don’t, our health suffers; when we do, we thrive.” “Of the things within your control, the best predictors of your future health are the habits you practice today.” “Help yourself to happiness by helping others.” “Give more than you get.”