International superstar Bono, the lead singer for U2, gave a speech in 2012 at the Global Social Enterprise Initiative at Georgetown University’s McDonough School of Business. The speech touched upon the mission of the initiative, which is to encourage business leaders to make responsible decisions that offer both economic and social value. During it, Bono coined a great description of the concept of the American Ideal:
“….it’s not a right/left issue. It’s a right/wrong issue, and America has constantly been on the side of what’s right. Because when it comes down to it, this is about keeping faith with the idea of America. Because America’s an idea, isn’t it? I mean, Ireland’s a great country, but it’s not an idea. Great Britain’s a great country, it’s not an idea. That’s how we see you around the world, as one of the greatest ideas in human history, right up there with the Renaissance, right up there with crop rotations and the Beatles’ White album.
The idea, the American idea—it’s an idea—the idea is that you and me are created equal, and will ensure that an economic recession need not become an equality recession. The idea that life is not meant to be endured but enjoyed. The idea that if we have dignity, if we have justice then leave it to us, and we’ll do the rest. This country was the first to claw its way out of darkness and put that on paper.
And God love you for it, because these aren’t just American ideas anymore. There’s no copyright on them. You brought them into the world. It’s a wide world now. I know Americans say they have a bit of the world in them, and you do, the family tree has lots of branches. But the thing is, the world has a bit of America in it, too. These truths, your truths, they’re self-evident in us.”
It’s especially interesting to me that this bit of wisdom comes from an Irishman–an outsider if you will. In marketing, when a company or individuals seek to define their unique selling points…it is difficult for them to position themselves. Stakeholders are often too close to the situation —they “can’t see the forest for the trees” analogy. As in this case, it takes someone from the outside looking in to help people focus on those key elements or strengths that separate them from the rest of the world. Thanks Bono for helping to brand the concept of the US for us Americans. We needed to hear it –and maybe, today in 2017, more than ever.