A friend gave me a card the other day tucked in a small paper bag from the Hallmark greeting card company. Printed on the bag was Hallmark’s motto: “Life is a special occasion.” I really like that! I know, I know, the purpose of the motto is to sell more cards, but I really resonate with their words. In fact, if I ever want a motto for myself, I just might steal theirs!
The incident got me thinking about mottos and slogans in general. Just for the fun of it, can you name the companies with the following mottos?
1) I’m lovin’ it!
2) Just do it
3) Good to the last drop
4) Quality is job one
5) American by birth. Rebel by choice.
The answers are:
1) MacDonald’s, 2) Nike, 3) Maxwell House Coffee, 4) Ford Motor Company, 5) Harley Davidson Motorcycles.
Some mottos try to inspire. The Girl Scouts motto, for example, is “Be prepared.” (So is the Boy Scouts). Other mottos serve as warnings. The American Express motto is, “Don’t leave home without it,” The Red Cross motto is “The greatest tragedy is indifference,” and The United Negro Fund states: “A mind is a terrible thing to waste.”
Some mottos are one word. IBM’s motto is “Think,” 3 M’s is “Innovation,” and Samsung’s is “Imagine.” Sometimes mottos contradict one another. The IMAX motto is “Think big,” while Volkswagon’s is “Think small.” Some mottos sound good but seem pretty vague to me. The Bayer company says, “Science for a better life”; Boeing says, “Forever new frontiers,” Sony says, “Make. Believe”; Google says, “Don’t be evil”; and Reebok says, “I am what I am.” That last one sounds like a good excuse for me to do just about anything I want!
Some mottos are almost poetic. The Amtrak motto says, “See America at See level.” Clever! And I’ve always liked the play on words for the John Deere company: “Nothing runs like a Deere.” The Allstate Insurance motto is comforting: “You are in good hands.” It could be a religious motto if we imagine the hands are God’s hands.
Religious organizations sometimes have mottos too. The Benedictine order’s motto is “Pray and work”; The Dominican’s traditional motto is “Truth” but I found another one for them: “Praise, bless, preach.” The Jesuits’ motto is from St. Ignatius: “For the greater glory of God.” If you went to a Jesuit school you probably were taught to write the Latin abbreviation for that motto on your papers: A.M.D.G. (ad majorem Dei gloriam). The United Methodist Church’s motto is a challenging one: “Open hearts. Open minds. Open doors.”
Popes have mottos. The two recently canonized Popes are John XXIII (motto: “Obedience and Peace”) and John Paul II (motto: “Totally yours” which expresses his devotion to the Blessed Virgin Mary). Our current Holy Father, Pope Francis, kept the motto he had as a bishop: “miserando atque eligendo.” The words are from a sermon by Venerable Bede for the feast of St. Matthew: “Jesus sees the tax collector, and since he sees by having mercy and by choosing, he says to him, ‘Follow me.'” It was on the feast of St. Matthew in 1953 that the 17-year-old Jorge Bergoglio had some type of religious experience where he felt God’s mercy pouring down upon him and calling him to religious life as a Jesuit.
What do you think about mottoes and slogans? Do you have any favorites?
Does your parish have a motto? If your family had a motto, what would it be? (One man told me recently his family motto was, “It is all part of the great adventure.” His wife came up with this when, many years ago, they were driving across the country in a station wagon with their five small children—and he was beginning to get very impatient!) If you had to write a personal motto for yourself, what would it be? Your motto doesn’t have to be perfect. Just “Do your best” (Cub Scouts).
As usual, I’d love you hear from you. But right now, I think I’ll “Head for the mountains” (Busch beer), “The happiest place on earth” (Disneyland), “Because I’m worth it” (L’Oreal).