“What is it? It is not a logo. It is not a tag line. It is not a slogan. It is not to be passed off as just another public relations campaign….”

In Evangeline Booth’s classic book, The War Romance of The Salvation Army, published immediately following World War 1, she wrote in the foreword the following:

“In presenting the narrative of some of the doings of The Salvation Army during the world’s greatest conflict for liberty, I am but answering the insistent call of a most generous and appreciative public.

“When moved to activity by the apparent need, there was never a thought that our humble services would awaken the widespread admiration that has developed. In fact, we did not expect anything further than appreciative recognition from those immediately benefited, and the knowledge that our people have proved so useful is an abundant compensation for all toil and sacrifice, for service is our watchword, and there is no reward equal to that of doing the most good to the most people in the most need.”

Public relations was alive and well in 1919 and The Salvation Army was doing the most good! That four word phrase has now been spoken, printed, repeated, and debated across all four U.S. territories during the past six months. What is it? It is not a logo. It is not a tag line. It is not a slogan. It is not to be passed off as just another public relations campaign, though that certainly was the catalyst for its creation. In the end it will be all of these components, systematically integrated into a coordinated plan by which we will have the entire national Salvation Army delivering and modeling one consistent message.

As a branding strategy it is a promise-a promise not to be broken. It is a promise that we are collectively making to the American public, and if consistently fulfilled and lived, this promise will revolutionize our culture today, whether it is internal or external. It is the brand known as The Salvation Army-the time has come for us to make an intentional impact on the contemporary culture we are called to serve today; we can no longer be content with living off the glories of the past….

Being the brand

There can be no denying the fact that the phrase was developed as a communications platform intended for creating greater public awareness and understanding of the work of The Salvation Army in the United States, and ultimately to help us raise more money. Therefore, if we want the American public to believe it, then we must be it.

We may be ripe for a significant cultural shift internally. We will need to firmly implant a reformed culture of accountability and responsibility by integrating into our daily operations genuine respect for all stakeholders and a driving core value of fiscal responsibility that is always in the best interest of the people we serve and not for ourselves. Trust will be sustained through accurate reporting of the bottom line, financially and statistically, defended clearly by understood outcome measurements.

The branding promise must become the culture throughout our entire organization, coast to coast, top to bottom. It is a promise we make to our stakeholders. We must understand who we are as The Salvation Army, and then be it, if we are going to effectively engage new supporters across the country.

We must be committed to being united and consistent in our messaging and in the daily lifestyle fulfillment of this branding promise. Every soldier. Every employee. Every volunteer. Every officer. All must be living, modeling, and speaking the brand. This consistency includes how we present ourselves in print, in dress, in lifestyle, in stationery, on our business cards, in web sites, in signage, in our business management practices, in our treatment of employees, clients, and donors, in the daily operations of our program centers. We want the public to begin to believe it because they see it in our everyday behavior.

I know that there has been internal debate about the branding promise. Some have expressed concern about our right to say we are doing the most good. Some feel that the statement is arrogant or bragging. Some believe that we will insult other organizations that work within the same communities where we serve. If we see the phrase only as a public relations campaign, then in some communities the concerns may be justified.

If we have any expectation of success then the promise must carry significant spiritual implications for each of us. As the communications concepts have been developed we also worked to create a manifesto that would help us to understand why we make the promise. Please read the manifesto on [pages 8-9]; I pray that you will determine in your own heart whether you can live the promise or communicate the promise. If not, then don’t even attempt it.

-Excerpted in part from Caring magazine
-Major George Hood is the national community relations and development secretary for The Salvation Army in the U.S.

Doing the Most Good: Our Manifesto

I am doing the most good.

I am hope.
I am compassion.
I am strength.
I am faith.

I am doing the most good.

I serve a community.
A region.
A nation.
A world.
I serve heroes.
I serve victims.
I serve a sovereign God.

I am doing the most good.

I am an Army.
Drafted by the Creator.
Commissioned by a man who defied death.
My enemies are despair and destruction.
My ammunition is grace and mercy.
My allies are generosity and benevolence.
I am an Army.
Helping others be all they can be.

I am doing the most good.

I feed empty stomachs and hungry souls.
I rebuild ruined homes and shattered lives.
I am a willing listener for a veteran with stories to tell.
I am a bottled water and an encouraging smile for a weary firefighter.
I am an answered prayer.
A silver lining.
A second chance.

I am doing the most good.

I am a humble steward of other people’s generosity.
I am a grateful courier of a stranger’s kindness.
I am the faithful executor of others’ goodwill.
I take responsibility seriously.
I am blessed.
I am a blessing.

I am The Salvation Army.
I am doing the most good.