Support Your Strategy With Themes and Messages

Article 2 min
Explore creating themes and messages that align to your strategy.

What Are Themes and Messages?

Themes are the overarching idea and the message is the supporting statement aligned to the theme. Your themes and messages support strategic priorities, desired state and commander’s intent.

Themes and messages impact the key stakeholder and support the narrative. Your themes address the desired change in knowledge, attitude and/or behaviors tied to a key stakeholder or public. Your messages provide context and support for the theme.

Overarching ideas and supporting statements should be used in every engagement or conversation applicable to the key publics and stakeholders. There may be more than one theme for every objective and there should be 2-3 messages for every theme.

How to Craft an Effective Message

  • Use your research on the key publics, stakeholders and the situation itself.
  • Start with the end goal in mind: what action/knowledge/behavior change do you want to see as a result?
  • Connect with communication goals and objectives: does the message advance the strategies and objectives to reach the goal?
  • Keep it simple and eliminate jargon.
  • Make it compelling and memorable, but not a slogan or tagline.

Remember, keep your target public and stakeholders in mind. The language you choose should resonate and motivate them.

Let's look at some common scenarios for themes that support different strategies, and messages that would reach your audience and remain authentic.

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Theme & Message for Partner­ship

Our troops are dedicated to working side-by-side with NATO Forces.

  • Over five 9-month rotations, the 1st Combat Aviation Brigade (CAB) participated in nine major exercises across Europe, while supporting 21 different nations.
  • The 1st CAB flew over 14,000 hours, drove 144,000 miles, and transported 8,000 people on our aircraft, including congressional delegations, senior U.S. military leaders, and top-level officials from our NATO allies. The efforts contribute to long-lasting peace.

Theme & Message for Confid­ence

Iraq forces gained the confidence needed to stand on their own and fight for the future of their nation.

  • In the past four years, Iraq and U.S. forces trained up over 25 fighter and cargo pilots.
  • Iraq leaders built coalitions with neighboring nations and worked to establish trade laws.

Theme & Message for Respect

Our service members are trained to understand and respect local customs and standards.

  • Over the course of six years, U.S. forces deployed 24 social scientists who embedded themselves in the Afghanistan community.
  • 45% of the leaders deployed to bases overseas are fluent in the language of their host country.

Theme & Message for Security

We continue to work with our Canadian partners to provide security.

  • Over the last five years, Canadian and U.S. forces jointly developed a new personnel screening facility.
  • In the last two years, Canadian and U.S. forces jointly provided positive entry control for over 16,000 vehicles.

Theme & Message for Civil Support

Our service members work with Afghanistan forces to prepare them to take the lead.

  • U.S. and Afghanistan forces worked together to distribute over 120,000 pounds of food.
  • U.S. health care teams helped Afghanistan forces set up and run over 2,000 remote aid stations throughout the countryside.

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