The new Phi Delta Theta slogan: a criticism

I am a proud Brother, proud alumnus, and proud Chapter Advisory Board Chairman for Phi Delta Theta Fraternity.

At a conference this weekend, the fraternity did some rebranding, and adopted a new slogan that is being displayed on the organization’s website. The more I see it, the more I dislike it.

I share my opinions because I care about the organization. I know how undergraduate Brothers can have a “go with the flow” mentality, that apathy is prevent among alumni, and as a result of these factors, dissenting opinions to the slogan will probably be sparse. While I do not think that a slogan will hurt the fraternity, I find this change to be unnecessary. I certainly recognize that the people who came up with this new slogan have the best interest of the organization at heart, but I disagree with this end result.

Become the greatest version of yourself.

That’s the new slogan. A few things come to mind.

1. We already have a motto: one man is no man.

2. We already have a secondary interpretation of that same motto: we enjoy life by the help and society of others.

3. For the past several years, we have had a slogan that has gone on things like tshirts and recruitment materials: go far.

And now we add another one? Where do I begin?

If the official motto is “one man is no man,” it pertains to an inherent need in the mutual aid of our brothers and our fellow man.

“Become the greatest version of yourself” focuses on the individual. Shouldn’t any slogan we use be consistent with our motto which is consistent with our ritual?

Become the greatest version of yourself. It’s not catchy, it’s not memorable. It’s cumbersome, it’s without panache, and it’s LONGER than the actual motto. Why not just use the motto? What could better reflect our values then simply endorsing the actual motto as it is?

It sounds like something Michael Scott would come up with on an episode of The Office, proudly presenting his leviathan of a slogan while missing the point of what a slogan is:

“Become the greatest version of yourself, not just today but all day everyday.” Why not just have the entire slogan formed into a mission statement.

In Hamlet, when Laeretes is about to part from his father, Polonius gives him a piece of advice, “this above all: to thine own self be true.” It’s one of the best known quotes in all of Shakespeare’s works. Had Phi Delt written the play, he probably would have said, “Of thine own selves, be the most eminent among them.”

Perhaps the conventional wisdom is that a new motto that is hip is something with which the undergraduate of today can more easily identify? Ultimately, young men don’t join fraternities over a slogan. They join because they find a good group of guys they like.

Philosophically, I don’t even like the motto. Become the greatest version of yourself? I feel like that implies that we maintain a facade, and this is encouraging members not to be the d-bag versions of themselves that they are keeping beneath the surface. You have lots of versions of yourself, some are good, some are bad, but be the best one. In another possible world, you could be a bad version of yourself, but don’t allow that to happen in this reality.

Why not focus on tradition instead of coming up with a slogan which is stale and cliché?

Phi Delta Theta Fraternity: America’s 14th oldest, 6th largest, 1st greatest fraternity. 162 years of excellence and 230,000 Brothers. We’ve seen 20 states join the Union, a Civil War, the Great Depression, and two World Wars. We’ve put a man in the White House and a man on the Moon.


Categories: Commentary, Phi Delta Theta, Rant

Tags: , , , ,

3 replies

  1. Having a brand for a product is about capturing an experience or an emotion. There is more to this then just the slogan. It’s a representation and presentation of how undergraduates, alumni, and the larger community FEEL about our product.

    • And I feel that the new branding is unsuccessful at this, and that they’re trying to reinvent the wheel.

      • I agree with you entirely on this point, Josh. Unfortunately, the fraternity has become more of a corporation than a brotherhood and this shift is representative not only of the new advertising campaign strategy but an underlying initiative to drive numbers twofold and more on campuses across North America (i.e. Phi Delt 2020).

        Phi Delta Theta International Headquarters has lost touch with the principles upon which the society was founded (friendship, sound learning, rectitude), its history (Great Snowball Rebellion 1848), and the membership qualities it claims to uphold (men of higher moral and intellectual character). In this sense, the fraternity is offering to make men who aren’t the “greatest version of themselves” into a new “non-dbag” version which you demonstrate above. With higher membership standards, this fraternity can be the academic and moral institution that did such great things as putting a man on the moon and one in the White House. Until then, it will remain a corporation that craves money (fraternity dues increasing, alcohol free policy crushing insurance claims) over moral values and friendships.

        Fraternities and secret societies, I believe, were created to foster strong friendship bonds and encourage intellectual discussion between academic equals and this is something that the organization should seek to uphold. Phi Delta Theta International has its current membership completely separated by a distance in this regard and I believe that this will certainly lead to its demise.


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