Army brings back ‘Be All You Can Be’ recruiting pitch to reach new generation of young Americans
Stars and Stripes March 8, 2023
WASHINGTON — The Army is reaching back for a nostalgic slogan that service leaders believe will help solve modern recruiting troubles — “Be All You Can Be.”
Service leaders have set an ambitious target of recruiting 65,000 new soldiers in 2023 and bringing back the slogan includes refreshing the Army brand with a slightly different logo.
Army officials said Wednesday at the launch event at the National Press Club in Washington that they chose “Be All You Can Be” out of hundreds of other possible slogans.
Army Secretary Christine Wormuth said the slogan was picked not only for its nostalgic value but because the data showed it had the most positive response.
“All of the military services are facing the most challenging recruiting landscape in decades,” Wormuth said. “So, it is a perfect time to be launching our new brand, launching our reinvented tagline ‘Be All You Can Be.’ And as a child of the ‘80s, I am super excited.”
The famous motto was first used by the Army in 1981 and served the branch for two decades before the service moved on to the slogan “Army of One” in 2001 and then “Army Strong” five years later.
At the event, the Army debuted two videos for the resurrected slogan that featured actor Jonathan Majors, who stars in the new films “Devotion” and “Creed III” and has appeared in other Hollywood hits such as “Hostiles” with Christian Bale and “The Harder They Fall” with Idris Elba.
“As an actor, there’s an idea of a social contract. You have a duty as an artist to promote, to instill and to demonstrate a higher way of living,” Majors said Wednesday. “I’m deeply honored to stand here with you guys. … I thank you for allowing me to come here, and go Army.”
The Army said the rebrand is the result of a multiyear, research-driven process with the aim of reflecting today’s men and women in uniform and serving the needs of the future generation.
Wednesday’s event also included a group of several new young Army enlistees taking their enlistment oath, administered by Gen. James McConville, Army’s chief of staff.
"'Be All You Can Be' is a phrase that has inspired many generations of soldiers, and its promise still rings true today," McConville said. "This is the message for the moment and for the future."
The rebrand includes a slight touch-up for the Army’s logo. The former logo featured a star inside a box. The new version is a bolder-stroked yellow and black star with no box — to reflect the “limitless possibilities” in the service, officials said.
"All good brands must evolve to reflect internal and external changes to ensure an accurate depiction of the organization that also meets audience needs," said Maj. Gen. Alex Fink, chief of Army Enterprise Marketing. "We know youth seek purpose, passion, community and connection, but we also know many don't recognize the Army's ability to deliver on those needs. We need a brand that effectively communicates the possibilities of Army service."
It remains to be seen whether the rebrand and resurrected slogan will help the Army meet its recruiting goals. In 2022, the service set a target of 60,000 new recruits, but ended up with 45,000.
Officials in all service branches have said there are various issues that are making recruiting tougher in the modern landscape. Chief among them is Pentagon data that shows fewer than 25% of all young Americans between the ages of 17 and 24 qualify academically and physically to serve in the military, they said.
Wormuth has cited other recent data that have shown only about 10% of young Americans are interested in joining the military.
McConville had said a few weeks ago that the Army refuses to lower standards for eligibility. Instead, he said the plan is to invest in young men and women early through educational initiatives and inform them about the opportunities available in the armed forces, so there is more interest among those who do qualify to serve.
The Army’s new marketing and recruiting push will be seen across digital media, television and social and community platforms soon, including the 2023 NCAA basketball tournament this month. The videos unveiled at the National Press Club on Wednesday — titled “Overcoming Obstacles” and “Pushing Tomorrow” — are available now on the Army’s YouTube page.