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1. The Mouthworm

Advertisers are particularly vulnerable to getting popular slogans stuck in their heads and riffing on them as opposed to creating a compelling story. That leads to DirecTV's "Fans don't let fans watch only 4 NFL games on cable" and Fox Reality Channel's "All reality, all the time."

2. The Big Picture

When Wal-Mart CEO Lee Scott announced that the world's largest retailer would be a good steward of the environment, the message didn't get boiled down into a slogan. Rather, the sustainability initiative was framed within the company's larger story of saving its customers money so they can live better.

3. The Rallying Cry

In 2007, Citi adopted a new slogan, "Let's get it done," with the hope that the new line would motivate employees to assist in the bank's turnaround. The slogan alone — reminiscent of Larry the Cable Guy's "git-r-done" — fell flat. When Vikram Pandit took over as CEO a year ago, he reinstated the bank's tagline, "The Citi never sleeps," but tied it into a larger story of how Citi's functions turn customers' dreams into reality.

A version of this article appeared in the December/January 2009 issue of Fast Company magazine.