James Holmes

Your Chance to Rebrand The U.S. Navy

How would you ‘sell’ the USN and market its ‘brand’? The Naval Diplomat asks his readers…

James R. Holmes

Over at the U.S. NavalInstituteblog, RearAdmiralJamesG. FoggoIII of the Chief of Naval Operations Staff asks whether the U.S. Navy should rebrand itself, replacing the current recruiting slogan “A Global Force for Good” with something that better, and more appealingly, conveys what American sea power is all about. Never one to shrink from a fearless stance, the Naval Diplomat says: maybe.

Our students often roll their eyes at it, but my main gripe about “A Global Force for Good” is not the slogan itself but the recruiting commercials that promote it. They’re good commercials on an individual basis. They show navy personnel rendering disaster and humanitarian relief, something in which seafarers can justly take pride. That’s good stuff. Problem is, that’s all they show. That partial picture leaves the navy looking a mite diffident about its battle function—about pummeling the nation’s foes at the behest of elected leaders. An organization that appears ashamed of its primary function has trouble firing imaginations.

Actually, the navy has floated and discarded some trial balloons over the past few years that would make excellent brands for the service. One short-lived venture from 2004 was “Life, LibertyandthePursuitofAllWhoThreatenIt.” I liked that one. It fit with the zeitgeist of the post-9/11 years. Admittedly, it’s probably a tad too vengeful-sounding for today, when the United States is exiting from the conflicts of those years, and when the republic’s next majorstrategiccompetitor is no friend to liberty and would interpret such a slogan as yet more incontrovertible proof of American enmity. The time for that slogan may have come and gone.

Better, the navy briefly flirted with a poster earlier this year that showed an aircraft carrier conducting flight operations at night. The caption read: “SLEEP TIGHT.” Not bad, eh? It’s short and punchy. It spans the range of combat and non-combat missions. It would excite enthusiasm among youngsters who want to make a positive difference in the world. It would remind American citizens and their leaders that the United States remains a maritime nation that depends on seagoing forces for its forward defense. It would reassure foreign allies and friends that the United States will honor its commitments to them.

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What’s not to like? As messaging, a slogan that conveys something true about the U.S. Navy to many audiences in two words works for me. Why “SLEEP TIGHT” made so little headway escapes me. What say you?