By Buddy Blouin
For many Gen X and Millenials, the slogan “Be all that you can be” was and continues to be synonymous with the U.S. Army. But following its run from 1981 through 2001, the marketing campaign would finally be replaced. Now, in 2023, it looks like the slogan is making a comeback. It’s a well-known fact by now that recruitment is not going the way the Army is counting on lately, and it's a long way from meeting its goals. Tensions are rising around the world and recruitment is getting harder and harder. But with the “Be all you can be” slogan making another appearance, the branch is hoping to reverse this trend. However, if you think this is all about bringing nostalgia to a new generation with little to no connection to the phrase, you’d be wrong. This isn’t just a comeback, it’s a total reinvention and it’s part of the overarching efforts to boost enlistment numbers for Soldiers.

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The Branch Whose Slogan Is “Be All You Can Be”

The Army is known for its “Be all you can be” tagline, which resonates not only as a call to service but also as a call to self-improvement. It had a 30-year run originally, and now after a little over 20 years off, the largest U.S. military branch is looking to repurpose it for the future. To be all that you can be in the Army, first you have to become a Soldier. A notion that is not lost on the force. Falling about 15,000 Soldiers short of its recruitment goals, or 25%, new efforts are being deployed to increase these numbers and put the branch back on track to reach its goals. Times change and with it so do approaches, but the idea of moving forward has the Army looking backward. The war in Ukraine continues and tensions grow higher in the Pacific. A new marketing campaign isn’t only welcomed but seems a bit necessary for times like these.

A Change in Marketing Due to Recruitment Woes

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Lwx-2R9swDg The Army's “Be all that you can be” mantra is dripping with nostalgia for previous generations, but the target of recruitment is Gen Z. Officials understand this yet are persisting with the tried and true anthem regardless. This is coming after a ton of market research to help improve recruitment numbers. Both the “What’s Your Warrior,” and “The Calling,” taglines didn’t sit well with audiences, and therefore, were ineffective as a result. The process involved looking at more than 200 taglines that would become narrowed down to 20 and submitted for testing among target audiences. 14,000 people were surveyed, and eventually, it was narrowed down to just three. But the clear winner would emerge as it did once before. “Be all that you can be” resonates throughout various generations and this trend looks to continue. However, the Army is continuing to move forward and looking to reinvent the tag rather than rely on its power of yesteryear.

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The Army's Focus on Reinvention Over Nostalgia

Nostalgia is on the rise and you don’t have to look far for proof. From throwback themes and pieces of media completely constructed around the ‘80s and ‘90s, it’s easy to see. There are songs using samples, old marketing campaigns coming back, etc. So, it would make sense to think that the idea of being all you can be is within that trend, but the Army insists that it’s not. Yes, the slogan is back, but it’s not here to throw out the same exact message, but rather evolve with the times. This idea has yet to fully be explored as the announcement is still fresh, but it makes sense. Army recruits are typically in or just out of high school. The youngest Millennials are in their late-mid twenties at this point. Instead of looking to the past, rather than the wording of course, it’s interesting to watch this marketing campaign unfold for the present and future. There has been a lot of research dedicated to the cause and now only time will tell if the results pay off.

How to Be All That You Can Be

If you’re looking to serve, take on a new challenge, see the world, improve yourself, or whatever your reason may be, joining the Army is a pretty straightforward process. Those getting started will need to simply reach out to a local recruiter who can help them define their career path. For those interested in becoming an officer, the recruiter can also explain your eligibility options. If you do decide to enlist, your next step is to report to a military entrance processing station (MEPS). It’s there that you will complete various pre-enlistment requirements over the next day or two. This is when you’ll take the ASVAB test, have your physical exam, meet with a career counselor, and if you’re accepted, where you'll take the oath of enlistment. Afterward, you’ll receive orders to report for basic training, which typically begins within a few weeks. There are delayed entry programs, and in these instances, you will receive orders for basic training within a year and can return home in the meantime. To be all that you can be in the Army is a great way to develop yourself as a person while fulfilling a patriotic path of service. Uncle Sam still needs Soldiers and if you’re up for the challenge, it can be a very rewarding experience both within military life and afterward in the civilian world.

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