creative haberdashery

Memorial Day’s long-lost brand voice



Memorial Day may be the unofficial start of summer, but it has a much bigger brand story.

USA Today’s Memorial Day story has these main topics:

  • Travel Tips
  • Weather Updates

Granted, they are both important topics. I myself have used Memorial Day as a great excuse to travel, sleep in, or do way too much gardening over a 3-day weekend. And if Memorial Day were really about those things, I’d say the brand voice is in good shape.

But Memorial Day has more organic origins, centered around the US Civil War. There is more than one theory about where it actually began, but the purpose has always been clear: to honor those who have died while in service to the US Armed Forces.

Here are five thoughts about how Memorial Day could begin to recapture its brand voice:

  1. Give it a catchphrase. I know that sounds frivolous, but I’m serious. Something like, “Together we honor,” or “Reflect, respect, remember.” Then freely give away the artwork and encourage folks to use it on everything from t-shirts to ads for t-bone steaks.
  2. Look to history. Originally, Memorial Day was called “Decoration Day,” when the graves of our fallen military were decorated with flowers and flags. While this practice continues at US military graveyards, how often do we see it at a local level? Why not honor the graves of people who died for our freedom . . . even if we never knew them?
  3. Embrace the party.Civil-War-Grand-Review Obviously, the sparkle of a 3-day weekend is here to stay. Let’s add some activities that remind us about the real brand story. Consider outdoor decorating contests, patriotic baking competitions and products that donate back to our servicemen and women. Special commemorative Memorial Day Coke soda bottles, anyone?
  4. Remember to remember. Most of us won’t even think about our fallen military on Memorial Day Monday. How about using the membership of fraternal organizations to publicize a time on Memorial Day Monday when we all pause for a moment of silence in recognition of those who made the ultimate sacrifice? Imagine neighborhoods country-wide silenced by a shared moment of reflection. Kinda spooky. But cool.
  5. Make it public. Classify Memorial Day as an eligible subject for a public service campaign and let Madison Avenue lose on it. Get inside of people’s heads. What Baby Boomer doesn’t remember “Give a Hoot, Don’t Pollute?” or,”Only You Can Prevent Forrest Fires.” They worked because they were created by people with a talent for these things.

Now, as for the political ramifications, and you can bet there will be some, let’s all take a step back, shall we? None of us (at least no one want to know) thinks war is a good thing. So despite the urge we might have to stew about the validity of this conflict or that, I think we can all agree on the most important thing: soldiers die while doing their duty. Let’s do ours by giving them back their voice.

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