Branding of the Army Reserve

  • Lieutenant Colonel Matthew W. Lawrence

The Army Reserve has experienced difficulty in attracting recruits, missing its recruiting targets every year since 2011. Some in the Army Reserve have discussed establishing a distinct brand for the Army Reserve to improve the image of the component in the public’s mind and alleviate the difficulty in attracting recruits. However, branding an organization is not merely marketing, and the Army Reserve is neither equipped to undertake such an endeavor, nor does it have the characteristics of a valuable brand. A brand has five characteristics that define its position: distinctive, coherent, appropriate, protectable and appealing. The Army Reserve does not have elements at its core identity that meet all of those criteria. In addition, the Army has embarked on a new branding initiative called the Enterprise Army Brand that includes the Army Reserve. Despite the research and effort that has gone into the Enterprise Army Brand, its success is not guaranteed, which calls into question the wisdom of the Army Reserve establishing a separate identity.