Looking outside my window on a snowy workday, I spotted a US Postal Service worker trudging from my house to the next through the freeze. Her slow yet confident steps, bulky blue jacket, and iconic wide-brimmed white hat offered a visage of reliability on a day when the weather was sufficiently nasty to urge those lesser among us to stay home.
“Neither snow nor rain…” I think to myself. “That’s one heck of a brand promise.”
The full phrase, often linked to US Postal Service delivery, is “Neither snow nor rain nor heat nor gloom of night stays these couriers from the swift completion of their appointed rounds,” and comes from a passage in “The Persian Wars” by Herodotus. Disappointingly, this isn’t actually the official motto of the US Postal Service. Nonetheless, it sticks, and that’s because of how often its truth is made evident by the tenacity of postal workers.
Especially in States like Maryland, where the average daily temperature presents a 20 degree range, folks have seen intrepid US Postal Service couriers working through every sort of weather outlined in their unofficial motto, plus more than a few additional miseries that must have escaped Herodotus’s notice. And just by seeing these men and women working through inclement weather, ordinary people like you and I are reminded of the motto, and our respect for the Postal Service’s task is renewed.
If you’re working on a new brand motto, follow the accidental example of the U.S. Postal Service: target wording that will continually be proven true, preferably in a frequent, identifiable and self-evident way.
Before finalizing the copy, ask yourself:
“How often would the actions of my business or organization remind people of this motto?”
If your answer is “often, and when conditions are such that customer need is at its greatest” or “often, whenever our ordinary tasks appear most impressive to the average person,” then you may have yourself a winning brand motto.
If the answer is “only rarely,” or “only when conditions are perfect,” then maybe some changes are warranted, to either your business’s operational structure, or to the promise your brand is making to the public. Advertising and messaging can only amplify your brand after its promise is witnessed by customers. Otherwise, it’ll ring hollow.