Rhyme is probably not the first thing you think about when you’re improving your English for your business, but it can be really useful. Just think about how many rhyming slogans you know. This blog talks about how to use rhymes in Business English. Find out how they work and why and how to use them.
Remember these slogans?
These advertising slogans are very familiar to me, even years later:
Wherever you go, go Texaco. [rhymes on the ‘o’: go, go, -co]
Gillette, the best a man can get. [rhymes on the ‘et’: -ette and get and repeats the G sound]
Beanz Meanz Heinz [full rhyme between beanz and meanz, half-rhyme with Heinz. Uses the -z to join the 3 words together]
Grace. Space. Pace. (Jaguar) [ Full rhymes on -ace.]
So, rhyming can be really useful for your marketing. This blog talks about the advantages of rhymes, some techniques for how to use them, gives you some practical links and some words of warning too. At the end of the blog, you can join the conversation.
What advantages does rhyme have?
Why should you use rhymes in Business English? Well, there’s four advantages:
- It’s easier to remember something that rhymes.
- We tend to think that something which rhymes must be true.
- Good use of language can enhance our image.
- We can use rhymes for special effects like humour.
Let’s look at these in some more detail.
Rhyme makes words easier to remember
I knew the first 2 slogans without having to look anything up. Why would I be interested in a men’s shaving product? Not being a man, I have no direct need for their products, but I did remember the slogan, many years later. Of course, they had a massive advertising budget, but others had equally large budgets and I don’t remember them.
Rhymes are easier to remember than non-rhymes. There’s a reason we learnt songs as children – rhyme helps us remember new things.
I also make use of rhymes during my lessons. My clients get used to me saying “Last is past”, to help them to remember when to use particular tenses. And they know what I mean by the “Naked No” (and why it’s a Naked No No). You can use rhymes as a hook to help people remember more.
As far as I’m concerned, the great rhyming master was Dr Seuss. I can probably repeat the entire book of ‘Green Eggs and Ham’ in one go, having read it endlessly to my son when he was young (he’s called Samir, Sam for short, that’s the name of the main character). Dr Seuss uses rhyme to broaden kids vocabulary and to let them have fun with language. In Green Eggs and Ham (in 2001, the 4th best-selling English language children’s book of all time), he managed to write a book using only 50 words. He was also quite a philosopher. If you don’t know these books, and especially if you have small kids around, check them out. They make reading bedtime stories fun for you too.
So, if you want your marketing message to be remembered, think how you can use rhymes in Business English.
If it rhymes, it must be true.
When I lived in Germany, I was amused by the many rhymes that German uses to express truths about life. This is summed up perfectly by ‘Sprichwort, wahr Wort’ [‘A proverb is always true’]. Dutch has the same habit ‘Bezint eer ge begint’ [Look before you leap].
I often wondered why it is that we think things are more true if they rhyme. It turns out that it’s to do with how easily we can take in the information. If something is easy to take in, we can remember it more easily and it can slip past our critical thought processes. So, it’s more likely to seem true.
It helps our marketing, if our message is felt to be true. That’s another good reason to use rhymes in Business English.
Effective use of language
Effective use of language makes a visit to your site/video’s more enjoyable. And if it’s more enjoyable, people are more likely to come back. Throw in something memorable and they might not forget your instantly when they move onto the next thing.
You can use rhyme at the end of sentences or parts of sentences, but also in other ways. Here are some examples:
Have a break, have a Kit Kat
This one repeats 2 words ‘Have a’ and then connects the 2 other words together: break = Kit Kat, so having a Kit Kat helps you relax.
Maybe she’s born with it, maybe it’s Maybelline.
This uses the same technique, repeating the Maybe. It also does some clever, as Maybe is also in the word Maybelline. It makes you think about the positive effect that make up can have on your appearance.
The Make Up of Make Up Artists
Max Factor repeats Make Up in this slogan, suggesting that they sell the product for the people in the know.
Use rhymes for special effects like humour.
Rhyme can helps us expect things, which we can then turn into jokes. That can make our experience of a company more positive.
Let’s look at an example:
Imagine you are selling sewing products. You know there is a proverb in English ‘A stitch in time saves nine’. That means that you should also do things on time, to avoid making more work for yourself.
What about if you change something in this proverb. Everyone who knows the proverb is expecting ‘nine’ at the end. So, anything else will gain extra attention.
You get the idea.
This is quite tricky to do and definitely not beginners’ English. It’s easy to get strange results, but if you get it right, there could be a great pay off.
If you want to make your own rhymes, try this link. It gives you lots of rhymes to play with.
Music and rhyme
In the Gilette example, I also remember the tune. Music can further enhance our ability to remember. Jingles and sonds can be the ultimate memory tools.
Notice, by the way, how Gilette has changed ‘The best a man can get’ into the more recent ‘The best a man can be’. Clever stuff. Change only 1 word, so keep the recognition, but update the message.
Please don’t use rhyme all the time
Rhyme can be a great way to engage and be remembered, but you do need to do it well. These kinds of techniques could backfire if you don’t do them well. So, please be careful when using rhyme. Get your rhymes checked by a native speaker. How do they sound? Does the native speaker understand what you’re saying? Does it sound good? Or weird?
And please don’t overdo the rhymes. One could be fun, more is not done.
Where else can you look for rhymes in advertising?
Want to read some more about rhyming in marketing and advertising? Try these links:
And this one is fun too. Don’t forget to have these checked by a native speaker though:
What do you think about rhymes?
What are your thoughts about using rhymes in English? Join the conversation below.
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