The Power of Words

Words That _ Sell

‘Money makes the world go round’, so the saying goes. To survive, every business needs to generate an income, and to do that they need to sell. Whether a product or service, a company can only guarantee longevity if they can consistently persuade people to buy.

To do that, we use words that sell. From that memorable slogan, to the ad that appears before your YouTube video, and the posters on the Underground: they’re all designed to sell. The very best examples of this don’t happen by accident. Instead, words are carefully chosen to excite, evoke, connect, inspire, explain and persuade.

The right words, used in the right way, can see sales figures soar. Here are some examples of words that have done just that:


In 1988, Nike’s sales were at $800 million; by 1998, they exceeded $9.2 billion. So how did Nike outperform its competitors and increase its market share from 18% to 43%? They did it with three small words: “Just Do It”. The power of these words lie in their ability to resonate with runners and gym goers on an emotional level. The phrase encapsulates the drive felt by those who exercise, to push through and get on with it. Now 28 years old, and the most profitable tagline of all time, it is unlikely “Just Do It” will be replaced anytime soon.

Share a Coke

To paraphrase Dale Carnegie, author of How to Win Friends and Influence People, there is no sweeter sound to any person’s ear than the sound of their own name.

Coca Cola ran with this idea for their infamous ‘Share a Coke’ campaign. They removed their iconic logo on bottles and cans, and replaced it with people’s names. The campaign was first introduced in Australia in 2011, and was hugely successful, leading to a 7% increase in sales. It was subsequently rolled out in over 80 countries worldwide, reversing the eleven-year downward trend of soda sales in the US. The success of this campaign is an excellent reminder of the impact of personalised communication in marketing.


Ever popular with bargain hunters, discount supermarket chain, Lidl, is renowned for its low prices. To further increase sales and compete with major supermarkets, Lidl had to appeal to a wider range of people. They needed to dispel the myth that low prices meant low quality. So in 2014, Lidl launched its #LidlSurprises campaign, cleverly using people’s own negative image of the brand to highlight its quality.

One of their TV adverts displayed a tweet from a man called Chris: “I worry where Lidl get their seafood. I don’t want to find it’s from a ditch”. Following this, the advert shadowed Chris as he joined a fishing boat sourcing mussels for Lidl. The film showed the seafood being sustainably caught in clear, blue waters in Scotland, and captured Chris’ surprise and changed perceptions of the brand in a playful and light-hearted way.

The campaign also used customers’ tweets on posters. For example, Scott Balcony’s “Lidl are doing a Chianti and it’s well nice. There; I’ve said it.” Seeing his Tweet in-store, Scott shared a photo of the poster on Twitter, stating, “Lidl have used my Tweet in their stores. This is the greatest moment of my life.” Other customers began Tweeting and sharing using #LidlSurprises, and so Lidl’s customers became the campaigners themselves, and continued to feed the campaign.

Using customers’ own words enabled them to become part of the campaign in a fun way, creating a closer bond with the brand. Their authentic words presented customers with recommendations from people like them, instead of slogans and taglines thought up by a PR or marketing firm, which proved more persuasive.

In 2014, Lidl’s revenue reached £4bn, up from £2bn in 2010. That year Lidl reported their best Christmas to date, in terms of sales, which was largely attributed to the campaign’s success in changing people’s perceptions of the brand.

Next month: contain yourself, it’s words that excite.

Written by: Stephanie Humphries