How to write a brand manifesto: Governance for your brand
Making sure your brand message is heard is just as important today as it’s ever been. However, the traditional “mission statement” approach to company identity is over.
Vague aspirations, copy and pasted paragraphs that outline general goals, and simple phrases that attempt to convey meaning without soul, no longer appeal to the modern audience. Today’s consumers don’t care about ambiguous objectives. We don’t have the time, or energy to connect with superficial mission statements. Instead, we need something authentic to inspire us.
Enter the brand manifesto
The best way to define brand manifesto, is as a simple statement that’s bold, deep, and inspires action. It’s a powerful reminder to your customers, and all those who interact with your brand, of who you are, and what you want to accomplish. By sharing a brand manifesto, you draw focus to your beliefs, creating a magnetised statement that draws in people keen to support your goals.
When customers read your manifesto, they get a better understanding of who you are, and what you can accomplish as an organisation. This means that you appeal to the emotional drive that pushes us all as human beings.
Years ago, the Romantics built a manifesto for themselves as a group that stood against the horrors of the industrial resolutions. With their manifesto, they appealed to the masses, and the Romantic revolution swept the world with Byron, Shelley, and Keats at the helm. In fact, Romanticism became the very first customer craze.
Since then, manifestos have come in all sizes and shapes – from long-form speeches to short and snappy phrases. Here, we’ll look at how to write a manifesto that really speaks to your audience.
What is a manifesto: The difference between manifestos and brand missions
Answering the question of “What is a manifesto?” also means defining what it isn’t.
Your brand manifesto isn’t a mission statement. Mission statements are designed to be comprehensive and general at the same time – a broad statement that apparently stands for everything, but realistically stands for nothing. On the other hand, a brand manifesto is a powerful and emotional story that tells your customers why you exist, what you’re passionate about, and why consumers should care about you.
When created with care, a brand manifesto not only inspires your customers, but attracts talent to your organisation too. It thrives on authenticity – a characteristic that’s no longer negotiable for modern brands who want to outshine their competition.
A powerful corporate manifesto captures what guides your organisation. It outlines the spirit and heart of your company, the values and beliefs of the business, and what you hope to achieve. In a world where mission statements are invisible and unmemorable, manifestos are rich with energy. They take a stance, make a declaration and show their stance for something important.
While mission statements are written for the boardroom, manifestos are written with customers and employees in mind. As such, a good brand manifesto can easily become a blueprint for attitudes and actions within your company – a constant reminder of the need to stand up for what you believe in.
It’s no wonder that in Latin, “manifesto” stands for “clear and evident”.
Define manifesto: Why do we need a manifesto?
As outlined above, a brand manifesto shows off the heart and soul of your company. It makes you more than just a soulless, faceless business, and becomes an integral part of your brand strategy.
Today, modern consumer/brand relationships demand an in-depth understanding of companies and what they hope to achieve. 84% of millennials don’t trust traditional advertising, and consumers feel unable to trust the companies that they’re exposed to.
In order to stand out, brands need to do more than simply represent a service or product. They also need to personify a set of lifestyles and beliefs, or a list of goals and rules. More often, consumers are becoming concerned with the values that they represent throw their hard-earned purchases.
When done well, a brand manifesto is an entertaining way of identifying what makes your brand special. In simple terms, it’s your way to define your prefect world, or declare how you’re going to improve the lives of people that your product appeals to.
So, what is a manifesto? Well:
A brand manifesto helps you clarify what your business is about. Often, this can be refined to a series of words or terms that best describe your company, such as passion, potential, or focus.
A manifesto distills your vision and values into a cohesive and concise message that speaks to your audience.
A manifesto forces you to examine your “reasons why” for running a business, and asks you to present them in a way that your audience can really understand.
A brand manifesto is a source of guidance and inspiration. It’s the compass by which you can navigate opportunities, decisions, challenges, and risks in your company, while holding a steady course when things get difficult.
How to write a manifesto: Powerful examples
One of the best ways to start building your manifesto, as a brand, is to look for inspiration for other companies who have already begun to make an impression with their own manifestos. Some of these will come in the form of a video, some will be outlined on a website, and others will appear in an image.
It doesn’t matter much how you present your manifesto. What matters is the ability it has to inspire and move your audience. For instance, The Holstee Manifesto is one of the best-known examples on the web, designed using a range of typography to visually appeal to the audience, while saying something important.
Mayhew’s manifesto focuses on their love for animals, and their desire to remove the pain and suffering that our beloved pets still experience. In their outline, they draw attention to the ways in which they hope to minimise animal suffering with low-cost services and free access to veterinarian care. In simple terms, they use their manifesto to connect with the emotions of their audience, draw out potential concerns, and determine what they can do to help make the world a better place, “for dogs, cats, and communities.”
Fincore has a collection of manifestos outlining their approach in business. Each manifesto focuses on a specific theme of quality and exceptional service, which shows off Fincore’s customer-centric goals. Their underlying message “we believe in extraordinary”, underpins every aspect of their company, from their software development solutions, to their online gaming services.
Lumeon is a popular technology company. Their manifesto puts simplicity and function first, outlining their ambitions in the world of tech evolution. Within their content, they show their dedication to various industries, and put themselves forward as authentic people with a simple aim “we’re not magicians”.
How to write a manifesto: Getting started
Brands like the ones we’ve outlined above are successful because they focus on “why” they do what they do, instead of what they’re selling. By leading with an emotional focus, they’re able to develop more meaningful, long-lasting relationships with their audience.
As such, if you want to know how to write a manifesto, you need to begin by deciding what it is you stand for. In other words, think about how you’re going to win the minds and hearts of your customers. What prompted you to start your business in the first place? A manifesto should be a declaration of your opinions, beliefs, intentions, and motives.
A good way to begin is to start with meaningful questions:
What gives your business meaning?
What do you want your legacy as a brand to be?
How do you want to change the world, and what kind of actions align with your values?
What are you willing to do to accomplish your goals?
The most important questions to ask in brand manifestos are the ones that get to the heart of the matter. They’re thought-provoking and engaging. Remember, listen to your heart, and invite your teammates to join the process too. Your entire organisation should be focused on reaching the same goals.
A brand manifesto can’t be written by one individual within a company. Manifestos represent the beginning of a movement, and movements require teams. Get your team together and plan time for a brainstorming session where everyone can express their opinions about the core values of the group.
Using the right language
Once you know the foundation for your manifesto, your aim will be to create inspiration. One of the most inspirational speeches in history, the “I have a dream” speech by Martin Luther King Jr, was effective because it was spoken with purpose, emotion, and conviction. “I have a strategy”, would have been far less effective.
With that in mind, your manifesto should use words that elicit action and imagination. The aim should be to find words that encourage people to connect with their aspirations, dig deeper, and respect their passions. Consider everything from alliteration and metaphors, to other poetic language.
With that in mind however, it’s important to be concise. When writing a manifesto, the most effective examples are often those that are strong, bold and fierce. It’s a good idea to be provocative with your prose, but also to get straight to the point.
A truly well-written manifesto is often crisp, and sharp. There’s an exactness in the interaction, and the purpose of the brand is unmistakeable.
Creating a community and sparking a connection
It’s not enough to simply appeal to your team’s opinions and beliefs. A good manifesto finds a common purpose with its audience. Your aim should be to show your target market that you both want the same thing.
When done correctly, a manifesto can create a community for your brand that’s focused around a connection built on thoughts and emotions. Think about what you want to achieve, and what your ideal audience wants to achieve too. Or, alternatively, think about why your beliefs and opinions should matter to your audience.
Although your manifesto doesn’t necessarily have to be carved in stone, it’s important to get it right. After all, the wrong impression could linger within the minds of your audience for years to come. If you build a name for yourself that goes against everything your customers stand for, it’ll be much harder for you to develop a relationship with them later down the line – even after a complete rebrand.
Once you have your manifesto, you need to make sure that it’s placed where your community can see it. Since a manifesto is a company revolution, it’s best launched with a bang. While testing, tightening, and adapting your manifesto is crucial to ensure it’s going to have the right impact, when the time comes to get it out there, you need to make sure that you make some noise.
A manifesto can act like a groundswell for your company – a wave of interaction and engagement with your audience that keeps growing. It starts with you – your energy as a company and the dedication that your team shows, then through complicated interactions with a million different elements, it becomes self-sustaining.
For your manifesto to become a fundamental part of your business, you’ll need to consider everything from events, to provocative stunts and PR, as well as active social conversations. After all, your manifesto is what defines you, and you want to make sure that it’s something your customers can use to understand your brand.
Don’t just write it: Live it
The concepts we’ve covered above should be enough to get you started with writing your manifesto – but just publishing it isn’t enough. A manifesto is a statement of intent, and you need to be prepared to practice what you preach – regardless of how tough that might become.
To write a manifesto is to create a promise to your community, your business, and everyone who engages with your brand. In the past, the Futurists booked theatres so that they could read their opinions from the stage – they engaged in riots and debates, and shouted their believes from the rooftops.
Today, brands and companies can engage their audiences on a host of different levels. When you can define your manifesto, you can use that guideline as a way to inform everything that you do as a brand. Your manifesto should give you the voice that you use to speak to your audience through blogs and social media. It should be the solution that helps you to decide how to promote your company with advertisements and content.
Your manifesto is a part of your brand story. It’s the authentic soul that makes your company worth engaging with on a deeper level. Like any story, a manifesto is more than just a marketing solution for your business – it’s memorable and long-lasting. It goes beyond the “you buy what we sell” principle, and opens the door for true connections.
What’s your manifesto? It’s time to nail your colours to the mast!
The task of writing a brand manifesto can seem a little daunting at first. However, the truth is that all you really need to do is find something that your business can devote itself too. Your opinions and beliefs as a company can evolve and change over time. After all, stories can change, and businesses, just like people, can grow with the times.
However, just because your manifesto is adaptable doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t treat it with respect. Manifestos are solutions that through your thoughts and intentions into the world for other people to agree with, or argue against. With that in mind, you don’t want to make statements just to be controversial.
Though controversy is natural when it comes to designing a great brand manifesto, the true aim is to find something your business is willing to fight for. You need to show your customers your passion, and dictate the things that you’re ready to go into battle for.
At Fabrik, we’re focused on a goal to replace traditional brand cornerstones like bland mission statements and vague values with real manifestos that speak to the soul of your company.
We create brand manifestos during the final strategy phase of a re-branding program, and we can help to design them in isolation too. With our work, companies can get a better understanding of their business, and begin to define their verbal and visual identity.
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