Community / Marketing

Ubuntu Slogan?

In mid-June, I was getting ramped up for a summer of street marketing. The key lesson learned at last year’s marketing event was that trying to explain Ubuntu or Ubuntu Vancouver in one sentence was tough. Really tough! This year I decided we need a catch phrase/slogan. The journey to find a slogan has been even harder.  In June, we started our street marketing and test drove a few slogans but none really resonated with the public. The most common look we got was one of confusion.

After writing up a slurry of slogans I thought to myself, why am I re-inventing the wheel? Ubuntu must already have a slogan. So I began my Google search and this is what I found:

Original Slogan: Ubuntu – Linux for Human Beings

New Slogan: I couldn’t find a consensus as to what it is but I did find the following.

Ubuntu Wiki – Slogan Ideas
Real computers for real people
Ubuntu: Friendly computing
The community IS the computer
Ubuntu: Do what YOU want
Ubuntu – Humanity Shared
Ubuntu – Together we can
Ubuntu: Africans don’t know what it means either.
Ubuntu: Resistance is futile. Smile 🙂
Ubuntu – Linux for everyone
Ubuntu: an ancient African word for I am sick of compiling Gentoo
Ubuntu: Technology of Future
Ubuntu: Technology of Space Travelers
Ubuntu: Linux Now!

Ubuntu Brainstorm -Idea 3552
PC for Humans
An operating system for Humans
Computers for Humans

Doctor Mo’s Blog
Once you go root, you never reboot

PC & Tech Authority
Learn as if you were to live forever

Ubuntu – Official Site
Ubuntu for You
(I”m not entirely sure that this is the current slogan as its not explicit on the website)

With that being said my search mainly hit to Linux for Human Beings and the consensus in the community is that it’s good so why change it.

Time for a Test

Get up from your desk, go outside on the street, find a stranger and ask them this question: Do you know what Ubuntu is?

You are going to get this response: No, What is it?

You say: Its Linux for Human Beings

Watch the face – Yep that scrunched up, puzzled, not interested look is what you are going to get.

Pick another stranger and try any of the slogans listed above – go ahead, give it a whirl.

Same response?

What are you doing still reading!?! – Get up! Go do it!

Welcome back! Interesting huh?

If I said any of the above slogans to strangers at local festivals and farmer’s markets I can guarantee we (Ubuntu Vancouver) wouldn’t get any sign ups.  I don’t blame them sounds dull doesn’t it.

My challenge was to come up with new slogan for Ubuntu that I could explain in one sentence to a stranger. And I came up with a list of words that can not be used in that sentence.


Why not these words? The preconceptions surrounding these words make it difficult for the listener to be open enough to hear what is being said. Thus tainting their understanding of the message I’m trying to convey.

The Mechanics of a Slogan

What do you notice about the following slogans?
Make yourself heard – (Ericsson)
Finger-lickin’ good – (Kentucky Fried Chicken)
Moving at the speed of business – (UPS)

They answer three basic questions:
Who are you?
What do you do?
What is your unique way of doing it?

Got it, answer 3 questions in one sentence- simple right? hahaha… 😛

It’s been about 4 weeks since I started mulling this over. I came to the conclusion that two separate slogans are needed. One solely for Ubuntu and the other solely for Ubuntu Vancouver LoCo.

First let’s tackle Ubuntu. Another post will follow for Ubuntu Vancouver LoCo.

After many laps in my local outdoor pool – yep that’s where I come up with this stuff -while swimming my morning laps. Try it!

I’ve come up with a list that I think has some potential.

A) Ubuntu. Take Control of Your Technology

B) Ubuntu is Technology Evolved

C) Ubuntu. Your Every Day Technology

D) Ubuntu – Techno Evolution

E) Ubuntu. Choose to Change

I’m looking for positive and constructive feedback. Oh and before you give the feedback – Do the Test! You can’t possibly understand the weird stuff I hear unless you get on the street and ask.


22 thoughts on “Ubuntu Slogan?

  1. I can only imagine how difficult it must be to come up with something like this… I for one have always loved the original Ubuntu slogan…

  2. This is a really good idea! A slogan, in addition to being a catchphrase that will put a “Ubuntu” stamp in a newbie’s mind right after hearing it, is a good way to help the community members federate around a clear idea.
    You’ve done a good research, and it’s nice to have all of other’s ideas on the same page.
    The A,B,C,D, E you quoted at the end are not quite Ubuntu as I see it, I think there’s *one* side of ubuntu there, but not all of them. As the ubuntu logo was just one guy alone.
    1)Ubuntu, as its logo might represent it, relies on community, on crowdsourcing, on helping others discover, use and fix.
    2)It’s also based on open-source, on freedom (Linux, GNU, GPL)
    3)And, as your potential slogan say, it’s willing to change things, to bring something new.
    Thus, we should have a logo containing (or not) some kind of pun on

    share, community, world, other, us, people, …


    free, freedom, open, liberty, unleash (ing), unbound, release, loosen, liberated…
    (I really don’t know why wouldn’t we use “free”; it’s very powerful! It contains both the idea of freedom *and* gratuity…it’s very efficient, and i don’t see much preconceptions on this one as long as there isn’t “software” right next to it)


    (R)Evolution, change, power, on the move, better, new, modern, fresh, advanced,…

    I can get a really good one for now, but I’ll think about it for an hour or two, and it’ll come to me (or right after a good siesta :D).

  3. My sister, when first encountering Ubuntu, asked me what ‘Linux’ meant, so ‘linux for human beings’ as a slogan might be a bit beyond the general understanding of the “200 million” aimed for.

    I’ve been working on a series of short adverts for Ubuntu over the last few months aimed at people like my sister or brother: people who don’t know what linux is, but would benefit from using Ubuntu. So i drew up some ideas…

    Ubuntu. It just works.
    Ubuntu. Do what you do.
    Ubuntu. Life made easier.

    I found them all a bit too vague, so I plumped with something more dynamic.

    Ubuntu. work/social/fun/life made easy.

    The first three words appear depending on the ‘type’ of feature i’m showing off. During the close of the ad it slides out to show the rest in succession, resting on ‘life’.

    it’s no amazing, but it means more than ‘linux for human beings’ to the kind of people i’m aiming the ads at.

  4. you are awesome, I wish you started posting to the planet earlier, really enjoyed this :-).

    IMO, free/freedom should be used in the slogan, but i totally agree with the rest of the forbidden words.

    many tech companies choose to emphasize the advancement of the product and to show that it is the future of X and Y….
    seems like lately it’s less about appearance, privacy etc. and more about the advancement and the spot of the product in the future.
    see microsoft’s latest slogan for example “Be What’s Next”, compared to the previous slogans which where more about now and today.

    so I think the next ubuntu slogan should state that ubuntu is the future of OS, and more then that, it should say that the future is better with ubuntu (now words like; freedom, open, simple, progress, individual, safety and more… can be put to use)

  5. How many brand names and slogans are really meaningful or useful in the context you’ve given? Imagine in some parallel universe where people don’t know about Microsoft or Apple, and you try out your test scenario:

    What is Apple? Think Different.
    What’s Windows 7? Windows 7 was my idea.

    I bet you’d get confused responses to those, too. Of course, you could certainly come up with a good slogan using your method, but I think it limits the scope unnecessarily.

    For what it’s worth, “linux for human beings” is not too bad, but users of other distributions tend to find it a bit pretentious and insulting.

    • Thank you for your comment Arilou.

      I agree that most slogans aren’t very meaningful; However we are trying to get people to associate Ubuntu with a phrase that defines what it is. This exercise of trying to find that phrase can be helpful in defining and creating that meaning.

      The abstract slogans Apple and Windows are able to get away with today are due to the fact that they started very early on to build that meaning and perception behind it. I’m quite certain when Apple released ‘Think Different’ it was perceived as strange.

      Possibly the user base you are trying to attract will resonate with the slogan ‘Linux for Human Beings.’ The users I’m trying to attract either:
      -Do not understand the meaning
      -Have a negative connotation with the word Linux

      I realized that I should have stated the purpose of creating a slogan and will address this in my next post.

      And just out of personal curiosity how many strangers did you talk to on the street yesterday?

  6. I vote for “Ubuntu. Take Control of Your Technology”. I think we had some pretty good response to this in our first couple of trials.

    • It’s not just about technology anymore. Look at what is happening in the mobile world. You buy a mobile phone, you are not even root on it. Your files are now hosted in the cloud, and you don’t full control on them (see the new Dropbox terms & conditions…). It’s not only technology, it’s our files, our data, our lives. Ubuntu is not only about technology, its values are way beyond that. “Take control” leaves much to imagination. And a slogan should be very short I think.

      • I’m also comfortable with “Ubuntu. Take Control”, but agree that it’s nebulous. What exactly are we taking control of? Do people even realize they don’t have control? We’d have to test this out.

      • I know it’s a bit vague. But when Nike uses “Just do it”, they don’t say what either. Same for Apple “Think Different”. Of course, I’m not 100% sure people understand what’s going on with their files with the new technologies, but when talking with users of Apple products for instance, you often hear them talking about some limitations : “i have to jailbreak to do what I want”, “Itunes is converting all my files, and I can’t synch on two computers”, etc… And I always think it’s better not to underestimate people. If you explain too much, it’s like saying “let me explain, as you may not be clever enough to get it”.

    • Thanks for the link! I’m going to check it out today!
      Hard is right! But hopefully with help and public testing we’ll be able to find a good one!

  7. “E) Ubuntu. Choose to Change.” implicitly assumes that the recipient of the message is not using Ubuntu, which becomes less interesting as the number of users increases. It may additionally be interpreted to indicate that Ubuntu changes: while many people find some changes welcome, and dynamic environments pleasant, they may either find that Ubuntu doesn’t change enough for them, or alternately, falsely believe that there is some incessant change that may affect “stability”. To me, these attributes make it unsuitable as a selection.

    When choosing a slogan, it is important not only to ensure that one is usefully communicating who, what, how, but also that one is constructing something that will be well-received by several audiences, including

    a) Those who have no idea what you are talking about
    b) Those who understand the product/service and have selected an alternate provider
    c) Those who are current users of a product/service
    d) Those who provide the product/service

    All of your suggestions are likely more clearly understood by audience a) than previously used slogans, which tended to be overly focused on audiences b) and c), but it is worth repeating the experiment by testing potential slogans against the other audiences.

    If you have something that works in the farmers market (a), at an industry conference (b), within a LoCo (c), and to Ubuntu Developers (d), you have success: something shared by the slogans you quote. For example, I’ll attempt to role-play interpretations from various audiences to “Finger-lickin’ good” (note that real responses may differ):

    a) It’s something good, which makes you lick your fingers? Must be a foodstuff. Probably a bit greasy, but with pleasing spices. Hmm. Maybe I’ll try some one day.

    b) I’ve just finished eating, but I’m not licking my fingers. Maybe my food wasn’t good enough. Perhaps I’ll try something else next time.

    c) Heh. I am licking my fingers. This must be good. (Note that this association may successfully override the opinion after the meal: the associated semantic sense that “finger lickin'” is good can well override potential gastronomic discomfort, following standard mind-over-matter modelling)

    d) Yep. Everyone seems to be licking their fingers. I’m proud to be producing food so many people find good.

    In each case, the interpreter is able to interpret the slogan in a way that is appropriate to their context, and that creates a useful interpretation that results in both increased preference for the product and improved product.

    Returning to the context of Ubuntu, the class of responses that are desired need consideration. One potential set would be:

    a) Ubuntu sounds interesting: I should look into it.
    b) My computer doesn’t do that: maybe I should change
    c) I’m glad I use Ubuntu: anything else wouldn’t meet the needs of my friends and I as well.
    d) I’m proud to be producing this: I wouldn’t use anything else, and I’m glad nobody else needs to do so.

  8. I’m totally with Pasaprépa: It’s not only about technology, it’s about how we bring it to the users, and how we help them use/understand it.

    I think it should be something like:
    Ubuntu: The future is free.

    I think it should really emphasize the fact that Ubuntu is a way to stay up-to-date with the latest technologies (hence “future”, “forward”,…), but not alone, and with “freedom”.

  9. Pingback: Avantaje și dezavantaje linux « La Grig

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