.comment-link {margin-left:.6em;} Making Sense: e-Digest of Brand Thinking

Wednesday, July 13, 2005

A good brand to have in a war

Think of some top American brands. What names come to mind? Coca-Cola? Starbucks? Nike? Well, here's one you might have missed: The United States Marine Corps (USMC). Recently, I did some writing for the Marines' new Web site. I was struck by how perfect the USMC brand architecture was.

Here are some points to consider: First, the Marine Corps' brand heritage goes back to 1775 (way before Coca-Cola's). Second, the USMC brand has attained nothing less than cult status with its target audience ("Once a Marine, always a Marine"). Third, the Corps' ethos not only defines the Marine Corps, it separates it from the other branches of military service ("The Few. The Brave. The Marines."). Fourth, the Marine Corps offers their "customers"(recruits and potential recruits) an authentic experience: the "transformation" of a raw recruit into a Marine. Fifth, there are revered symbols and icons (like the Eagle, Globe & Anchor and the blood stripe on Dress Blues) that connect today's Marine with those who came before. Finally, there is the Marine slogan, Semper Fi (Always Faithful), which binds Marines together (as opposed to the Army's "Army of one" concept).

"The value of the USMC brand is strengthened by the fact that they have always remained true to who and what they are," says Monty Wyne, former Creative Director on the Marine Corps for J. Walter Thompson. "They have never changed their story."

Monty describes the Corps this way: "It's an elite group of men and women who have proven themselves worthy of the title Marine. The Marine Corps is a tough club to join and it's definitely not for everyone. What continues to add value to the brand are the young men and women who meet the difficult challenges of boot camp and become Marines."

Monty confessed that he did not write the famous Marine Corps slogan, "We're looking for a few good men." It originated during the Revolutionary War and was printed on early recruiting posters.


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