Ford has been producing catchy taglines longer than most automotive companies have been producing cars. Ford introduced its first slogan in 1905: “Don’t experiment: Just buy a Ford.” The evolution of Ford’s official motto is directly related to the spirit of the company’s mission; while 1905 may have found Ford eager to solidify itself as the face of the American car industry, in recent decades Ford has branded itself more confidently. Ford trucks have been proudly proclaimed as “Built Ford Tough” for over 35 years, one of the longest running slogans in the car industry.
Yet despite a proud history of evocative marketing campaigns, “Go Further,” Ford’s current company motto, is more than just a catchphrase or slogan: it is a testament to Ford’s conviction that, to quote Ford’s employee FAQ, “good is not good enough.” The recession that gripped the United States took the American automotive industry to the brink, and perhaps no manufacturer was more emblematic of that collapse than America’s most iconic carmaker. Unlike General Motors or Chrysler, Ford didn’t require a government bailout, but as a condition of the loan Ford received it had to relinquish its assets, including its iconic blue oval logo, as collateral.
But by 2012, Ford was officially back. After receiving investment-grade ratings from both Moody’s and Fitch, Ford was given back its logo, and announced its new lease on life by rebranding. The company has a recent history of ad campaigns pointing to higher aspirations, from “There’s a Ford in your future” to 2006’s “The Way Forward.” “Go Further” doesn’t aim to inspire optimism; it both promises that Ford’s recovery is complete and serves as a reminder to Ford’s employees, from top to bottom, that great effort is required to achieve great results.
And those results are showing. Ford just posted its best quarter earnings since 2000, up 44% compared to last year and 10% higher than Wall Street analysts had predicted. But Ford’s dedication to going further isn’t limited to the production and sale of premium vehicles. In 2014, Ford and Lincoln dealerships donated almost $100 million to their communities, and Ford’s Drive 4 UR Community program, inspired by the Drive 4 UR School program that has raised more than $18 million dollars for schools since 2007, donates money to community causes when people test drive vehicles.
Butler Ford chose to dedicate this year’s Drive 4 UR Community event to Ashland Community Hospital Foundation. The more than $7,400 that no-obligation test drives raised for patient care initiatives stands as a testament to what Elena Ford, global director of marketing and great-great granddaughter of Henry Ford, described as her interpretation of the company slogan: “We go further so you can.”