Wisdom from the most unexpected places: corporate slogans

Those who know me know that I have five passions: aviation, people, food, language, and branding. Admit it, you too change the channel when the ads come on. But have you ever stayed tuned and actually watched? Have you ever taken the mental challenge to look past the “buy my stuff!” part of the ads to look for deeper underlying meanings? You too!? Great! In that case, hold on tight! Cause we’re about to go searching for the best wisdom to be imparted:


Reebok | “I am what I am” 

At first glance, this may seem like  load of waffle from a multi-million dollar company. And it is. But take a second glance, then a third and you can start to see some of the benefit to the meaning of the words themselves rather than their use. It’s among the most common pieces of advice that can ever be passed down from one human to another: why pretend to be something or someone when you can be yourself! In our day and age, many of us are far from content in our own bodies, lives, and situations but we do little to really get down and find out the real cause–part of that involves acknowledging our current state, our current comfort levels with it, and making a decision on whether or not to change. It may end up that you like yourself as is: then great! It may end up that you aren’t entirely content. Well then, keep digging further to find out what the problem is and tackle it head on like an 18 wheeler towards a deer in Minnesota! (Too soon…? Sorry, Bambi…)

Adidas | “Impossible is Nothing”

In “The Phantom Tollbooth” by Norton Juster, there’s some good dialogue:

“As the cheering continued, Rhyme leaned forward and touched Milo gently on the shoulder. 
“They’re cheering for you,” she said with a smile. 
“But I could never have done it,” he objected, “without everyone else’s help.” 
“That may be true,” said Reason gravely, “but you had the courage to try; and what you can do is often simply a matter of what you *will* do.” 
“That’s why,” said Azaz, “there was one very important thing about your quest that we couldn’t discuss until you returned. 
“I remember,” said Milo eagerly. “Tell me now.” 
“It was impossible,” said the king, looking at the Mathemagician. 
“Completely impossible,” said the Mathemagician, looking at the king. 
“Do you mean—-” said the bug, who suddenly felt a bit faint. 
“Yes, indeed,” they repeated together; “but if we’d told you then, you might not have gone—and, as you’ve discovered, so many things are possible just as long as you don’t know they’re impossible.” 
And for the remainder of the ride Milo didn’t utter a sound.” 

Fact is, if you don’t know that something is impossible–but know that you have to do it you will try. You will think. And even if you fail you may (read: will) come up with something worthwhile. But you first have to get out there and do it. People said that the Boeing 747 wouldn’t fly, they said that rock and roll would never be a big genre, and they were proven wrong.

AT&T | “Reach Out and Touch Someone”

There are so many human stories waiting just outside those door and just past that screen. All you have to do it close the laptop, put on your smartest pair of britches and get out there. With a whole world to explore, what, I ask are you doing inside? In fact, what am I doing inside?

Diesel Jeans | “Be Stupid”

I’m gonna let this video do most of the talking for me here. But the big takeaway here is to take risks. Irregardless [sic] of your concept of smarts, it pays off in bucket loads to do for the sake of doing. Again, it’s not the results that are important here, it’s the process and the lessons. In life there’s only so much that can be learned from the pages of a book or the tutelage of a mentor; in fact, part of the job description of a mentor is to let you fail so that you learn lessons. Be stupid, but be stupid in an intelligent way.

Bartle Bogle Hegarty | “When the world zigs, zag”

It seems natural to include the slogan for an advertising firm on here. But again, think. As creatures of habit, we go with the flow more often than we actually create our own path. Being different isn’t always a bad thing. In fact, it rarely is, those small variations in our lives are what makes us so delightfully human. Our flaws are our greatest asset simply because they provide us with a launching point. Out propensity to make mistakes means that we will never run out of opportunities to improve and we should always seek to obtain that continuous improvement. So yes, while the world is zigging, make sure that you identify the proper course and zag your way towards it.

IKEA | “Live unböring”

A while ago, my girlfriend and I went on a fun date to IKEA in my hometown. Why? CAUSE IT’S AWESOME! But mostly because it was a thing to do that was off the beaten path. C’mon, give the poor, tortured path a break and stray from it a little. Find your own little adventures, they don’t have to be complicated either: always pass a store on the way to work and have always wondered what they sold? Find a friend and go! Feeling hungry? Turn off Yelp and enter that restaurant with the green roof! Just do something!

Virgin Atlantic Airways | “More experience than our name suggests”

We can thank Sir Richard Branson for this gem. This list wouldn’t be complete without an aviation reference and what a reference it is! It’s risqué, it’s daring, and it’s correct. Chances are, we’re all known for something. Each of us has a highly valuable and visible talent. But we also have other that are waiting just below the surface. Whether we know it or not, something in our lives has supplied us with some skill that is a diamond in the rough–just waiting to be hand-crafted into a beautifully cut gem. We just need to dig that experience out of whatever hole in our heads we stored it in and get started. We all know more than we think we do, we just don’t know we do. Sure, it’s kind a catch-22, but so is every other personal-growth related…thing.

Coty Perfume | “If you want to catch someone’s attention, whisper”

This is an older slogan but one that speaks volumes. We’re constantly being bombarded with tons of gimmicks. So much so that it’s becoming increasingly overwhelming. This is part of the reason that minimalism and minimalist design is coming (back?) into vogue: people are being screamed at! A good life skill that I’m trying to pick up is one of improved tact. Knowing what to say when with the right amount of force to apply the right amount of leverage to get stuff done. Knowing when and how to whisper is integral to getting there. Wanna join my quest?

Did I leave out a slogan? Let me know!


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