As we ready our “out of office” auto-replies and mentally prepare for a day of star-spangled awesomeness, let’s take a few minutes to recognize a curious fact about the Declaration of Independence. Unbeknownst to its author, Thomas Jefferson (perhaps the greatest copywriter of his time), the Declaration wasn’t just the coming-out announcement of the United States of America as a new nation; it was also the first brand mythology.
For the unfamiliar, a brand mythology is everything your brand stands for, woven together into a compelling, memorable narrative told in a voice, and with a personality, that is uniquely of your brand. (We’ve previously covered how to write a brand mythology.)
For a brand mythology to be effective, it needs to pass five filters, which the Declaration of Independence does with flying red, white and blue colors.
1. It’s Ownable
Our founding fathers took a stance and made it known. The Declaration’s second sentence, which has been described as containing “the most potent and consequential words in American history,” differentiated the values of our people from those of the British Empire and monarchy.
“We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.”
Those words were inseparably tied to the beliefs of the colonies and our ambitions as a country. They gave the United States a reason for being—a unique reason that could never be claimed by another nation. I mean, you didn’t see Scotland try to disband from Great Britain in 1776.
2. It’s Believable
You know the founding fathers, and the 53 other signatories, weren’t kidding around. They meant business, even outlining 18 reasons why they had had enough of the King.
3. It’s Adaptable
The Declaration is more of an introduction than an all-encompassing narrative of our goals as a country. It provided fertile ground for our laws, beliefs and value systems to grow and evolve as our country developed and diversified. It laid the foundation from which the future Constitution sprung.
4. It’s Relevant
For its audience, “the candid world,” the Declaration was a big deal. It’s announcement came during the midst of the American Revolutionary War, and inflamed another 7.5 years of conflict with ol’ GB.
5. It’s Emotional
Passion is evident throughout the Declaration’s 1478 words. Every one of which was carefully calibrated to explain the country’s motivations, call attention to the infractions of King George III, and band together the 13 colonies on their hunt for independence.
Here’s to the red, white and blue—and the best brand mythology ever written. Have a wonderful Fourth of July weekend, everyone!