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Slogans and phrases

by Robert Docter, Editor-In-Chief –

In glittering tinsel as in human sentiment is indelibly written this undying fact:
“The only things in life truly worth having are the things we give away.”

The Salvation Army has been carrying that message to the world for the past century and a half. It speaks volumes about the sender —about an ethic—about a point of view concerning a well-lived life—about charity, which is love.

It’s not a “slogan.” It’s a fact—a reality that many different organizations embrace as they work to achieve their own mission.

I like Army slogans that seem to reveal the altruism of the Army—that immediately communicate what we’re all about—that we’re worldwide, made up of multi-national populations of every race—that we’re imbued with an energy that drives us, not only to give “things” away, but also to lend our selves to others without expectation of anything in return.

We are motivated by the plaintive cry of the babe of Bethlehem whose life radiated a similar message for mankind.

We present ourselves to the general public primarily with our actions. We communicate our commitments with our behavior. We show our love for mankind in the dimensions of our caring.

Maybe that’s why my favorite slogan about the Army is the single word:

It’s probably a motto more than a slogan. It communicates our ideals, our commitments, our hopes for mankind, the driving force of our love for all people everywhere. It’s not very well known by the general public, but those who seek us out know that it exists—and not just at the Christmas season.

So, what is a slogan? In his book Creative Advertising, Charles Whittier says a slogan is “a statement of such merit about a product or service that it is worthy of continuous repetition in advertising, is worthwhile for the public to remember, and is phrased in such a way that the public is likely to remember it.”

It’s what the public takes away with them after an interaction.

The Army has many phrases that most of us tend to accept as slogans. I’ve been staring at one over the bell of my horn during this Christmas season. It’s the sign on the top of the kettle stand.

This comes close to being a fine Christmas slogan. It’s simple, neat, believable, memorable, motivates action, and says enough about our belief system that people relate it to a facet of the Army’s work. It says “Give!”—and that’s exactly what we want to have happen. This statement asks those who view it to do something.

It might be a two slogan sign. It also bears another expression—a phrase for a particular time that says:

This explores the “why” of giving. It fits well with the top of the sign—is definitely a soft-sell, a very soft-sell, non-competitive, but very true. It also gives some hint that Christmas kettle funds will be used the year around to meet the needs of those in distress.

We have another statement or slogan that generates an image of the Army and also identifies our mission very well. It says:

I’ve always liked this one because it’s so “us.” It doesn’t seek action by anyone or even stimulate giving. It simply explains what we’re all about. It’s simple, straightforward and concise. It definitely provides the reader-viewer-observer with a notion of our personality. We worship God and we help people. In an age of feminism the “man” line might stir some questions and we have to assume that the reader interprets it as “mankind.” It differentiates us from other charities and sends a message that we can be trusted. It is not competitive. It’s probably a little hard to remember, and some get the “heart” and “hand” mixed up. One does not see it in print very much anymore.

Another historic “slogan” presents a point of view concerning humanity. The cover of Diane Winston’s book Red-Hot and Righteous: the Urban Religion of The Salvation Army has a poster used in a fundraising campaign as the United States entered World War I in 1919. It trumpets the belief that:

This strikes me as a hope for humanity—a desire to inform people that there is a “rescue” available that concerns itself with both social and spiritual issues. It says we believe in the saving power of God’s grace and are willing to expend energy to any and all to assist desperate people in dealing with heavy social problems.

We also have another expression, phrase, slogan, “promise,” currently driven by some highly creative people who work with National Headquarters. We find it sprinkled on signs, shirts, hats, coats and mostly on any Army correspondence sent anywhere. It is supposed to be a “new brand”—a “promise,” I suppose, of commitment and assistance. The promise part is printed under separate cover and is not easily available— although NEW FRONTIER printed it in its entirety in the June 11, 2005 issue. The brand-slogan-promise includes the traditional red shield over the phrase:

I’m not particularly enamored with this one. I think it comes across as a little pretentious with a hint of competitiveness. Somehow, it just doesn’t say “us” to me. I know many seem to like it, so I wear my shirt with that logo emblazoned on my left breast—but not if I’m going to a coordinating council or a United Way meeting. It seems to need an explanation to give accurate meaning to the expression.

I think I’ll stick to OTHERS.

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