Proof Content logo transparent background

How to Write Memorable Key Messaging Part One – Portability

There is a rough consensus that for language to be memorable, there must be elements of recognition – people should be able to retain and recognise the message; and production – people should be motivated to refer to it in relevant situations1.


What do you notice about these slogans or taglines, they all share a common trait:

  • “Should’ve gone to Specsavers”
  • “Just do it”
  • “Because you’re worth it”
  • “I’m lovin’ it”
  • “Red Bull gives you wings”
  • “Breakfast of champions”
  • “I can’t believe it’s not butter!”

Once you know, you know – they’re all portable. They can be used in any situation, connected to the brand or not.

Shouldagone – the GOAT of Portable Slogans

Alone & with friends

Consider the all-time greatest B2C slogan ever: “Should’ve gone to Specsavers”. There is so much beauty here it almost brings a tear to my should’ve gone eye.

First up – any time, literally any time, eyesight fails to deliver, this phrase gets rolled out across the nation. Missed a turning sign? Should’ve gone. Can’t read a menu? Should’ve gone. Can’t read the 6pt font your web designer thinks is cool? Should’ve gone. Curious choice of fling? Should’ve gone.

It’s so perfectly ingrained, we say it to ourselves as a self-berating curse. It’s become a mantra, a line of self-hypnosis repeated silently inside, reminding us where we should’ve gone.

We say it with and to friends, every time reinforcing the social proof of the should’ve gone. I know I should’ve gone and now Joe’s told me as well.

Pre-supposes everything

Pre-supposition in a marketing message is a powerful thing. It sneaks a pre-existing situation, condition or attribute into the brain, where there may not have been one in the first place.

By saying “Should’ve gone to Specsavers” – you’re being set up with a) you have an eyesight problem that should’ve been corrected b) wherever you went before, if anywhere, wasn’t good enough – because you should’ve gone to the other place.

It’s like a magician’s force for copywriting – whether you need glasses or not, went to Boots or shopped online – your existing condition is wrong because the earworm that is should’ve gone tells you so.

In fact, every time you misread a word, missed a signal or misplaced your keys the afterword of should’ve gone is tagged on.

It actually has the place brand embedded in it

This stuff makes us want to dance around a campfire and raise our (drinking) glasses. In our Key Messaging process, Specsavers is a destination brand archetype. It’s somewhere you have to go to consume its service.

That’s a concrete idea that we can easily latch onto as humans. Solid and three-dimensional.

Now look again – gone to Specsavers. Genius. It’s a destination brand reinforced by using the verb to go, you’re told where to go exactly, and finally, you’re triggered to repeat this to yourself a hundred times a day.

Drop the mic, Specsavers!


Returning to the also-rans, also-genius – let’s look at where and how they are triggered:

“Just do it” – any moment ever requiring a pause for self-belief and courage to break past.

“Because you’re worth it” – any time you’ve ever hesitated for a millisecond before warming up the credit card on the affordable aspirational warpath.

“I’m lovin’ it” – any time you express enthusiastic approval for yourself or others.

“Red Bull gives you wings” – mostly at the refrigerated drinks cabinet in the motorway services on the way home from a long client meeting.

“I can’t believe it’s not butter!” – almost as clever as should’ve gone, this brand not only harnesses the trigger of experience disbelief but turns it into their actual brand name.

Honourable mention – Breakfast of Champions

Every time I roll up to the checkout person with a less than nutritionally perfect basket of food, my friends cringe just before “breakfast of champions!” rolls off my tongue. Just seems funny for a Dr Pepper, a bag of crisps and a watermelon being bought at 9pm in Tesco.

What I didn’t know – this was (still is outside of the UK) a tagline for a brand called Wheeties back in 1935. Almost a century old, their portable, triggered slogan has travelled far through time and space to take its place in our shared lexicon.

B2B Copywriting Slogans

Portable slogans work for B2B copywriting too. Although harder to find examples as good as Specsavers’. 90% are feature-based formulas around “The [something something] to do [something else]”. But Slack takes a crack with “Where Work Happens” – it’s a bit portable and makes use of a couple of other psychological linguistic tricks (disfluency, if you must know).

In Shortness and Light

  • Make your slogan portable – one that can be said in situations other than you intend
  • Connect it to a trigger – preferably one that happens all the time to your target market

Should’ve called Proof Content 🙂

  1. Richard Jackson Harris, Abigail J. Werth, Kyle E. Bures, and Chelsea M. Bartel. Social movie quoting: What, why, and how? Ciencias Psicologicas, 2(1):35–45, 2008[]
Image of glasses - slogan portability

No pulp, just juice:

Join our excellent mailing list for clever content:

Find the words that define the brand you love with PRISM – our Key Messaging process.

Join our Mailing list!

Get our lovely jubbly tips and tricks and useful writing licks:  

Proof Content logo square