A manifesto is a chance for your brand to put a human face on the company. It inspires and motivates, and when properly carried out, it infuses the emotional “why?” into your brand. We’ll take a look at the brand manifesto and what goes into writing an effective one.
Do you enjoy reading a mission statement? Here’s an open secret — No one does (well, except maybe whoever wrote it). Mission statements by their nature are broad and all-encompassing and rarely say anything of substance about a brand to a consumer. So, if you’re relying on yours to make an emotional connection with your audience – well, good luck with that. The truth is, the last thing today’s modern audience wants to read is a company’s vague aspirational goals that lack soul and that someone crafted with the board of directors in mind. If you want people to connect with your brand, you need to give them authenticity. They want you to speak to their soul. To share similar values with them. Give them that, and they’ll engage emotionally with your business.
And that’s where your brand manifesto comes in.
What is a brand manifesto?
Well, we just established it isn’t is a traditional mission statement, which tends to be dry and uninspiring. A well-crafted manifesto is a declaration of your company’s intentions, motives, and views that you use to evoke an emotional response. A compelling brand manifesto focuses your audience’s attention on your organizational beliefs and gives them something they can relate to. Think of it as taking your business’s banner and boldly planting it for all to see, proclaiming this is who we are and what we believe in and why you should care and rally to us.
Why do we need a brand manifesto?
Your business operates in a crowded marketplace and today’s consumers want to connect authentically with the companies they choose to do business with. If you don’t make an effort to establish that connection with them, another business will.
A good brand manifesto is a psychological tool you can use to build an emotional bridge to your audience and make it attractive for them to cross. It is an essential component to generating a long-term relationship that can lead to customers who are advocates and that creates built-in repeat business.
Now, when we say psychological tool, don’t misunderstand what we’re driving at. You’re not trying to cynically manipulate your customers (If you are, consumers are savvy, and you’ll be setting off a lot of BS detectors). What you’re going to do is use human psychology to help create that emotionally appealing bridge to connect you with the customer.
Brand loyalty is rooted in the biology of the human brain. Humans are social creatures, and we instinctively want to build bonds and alliances that make us feel comfortable. So while we try to make rational decisions based on reason, we aren’t Spock from Star Trek, operating solely on logic. Instead, a primal part of our brain that governs our emotions and feelings links into our decision-making process and influences the choices we make. Successful brands use this knowledge of human psychology to craft a brand manifesto that inspires their customers with a core message that resonates. This plays a vital role in creating that initial attachment that will influence the customer’s relationship with your business, which in turn influences purchase decisions.
With all that out of the way, here is how you can create a well-crafted brand manifesto that resonates with your customers.
Targeting the whole audience
First off, who should you target with your manifesto? Well, the obvious answer is your customers. However, it’s more than that – and some companies get this part wrong. You’re also writing it for your number one advocate, your employees. They need to know where your company stands and what values you hold important but also how you value them. The added benefit to establishing this is that when your business shows you care about the people you employ, you gain a whole new level of respect from your customers.
Getting started – Discover your why
Identifying your brand’s purpose and communicating it clearly — externally and internally — is challenging but essential if your goal is to inspire your customers and create a meaningful connection with them. Your brand’s purpose underpins your brand manifesto. Think of it as discovering your Why.
Why should customers care about your company over your competitors? What sets you apart? Rather than extol the features of the widgets you are selling, your manifesto needs to tell the audience what your passions are and how they inform why and how you do business.
Your manifesto represents the fabric of your company, so work as a team to brainstorm and determine its essential values, goals, and aspirations. You’ll discover that creating a manifesto isn’t easy and it gets harder as you work through the process, but the team approach will help you steer a true course. Will everyone in the company agree with every aspect of it? No. But that’s to be expected; it’s the essence of being human and being part of a community. At our best, we compromise and come to a common understanding. Your manifesto shouldn’t reflect one person’s point of view, but the community’s.
Here are some questions to help you discover your brand’s Why:
- Why did the founders create the company?
- What problems are you solving?
- What gives the business meaning?
- How will you impact customers’ lives?
- How is your company making a difference in the world?
- What actions will you take to bring about change?
- What do you want your brand legacy to be?
Today’s audience wants you to answer these questions, so consider them when putting your manifesto together.
Use the right language to inspire
When creating your manifesto, you’re telling an important part of your brand’s story, and to do so effectively, you need to use the right language. Remember, you’re not reciting a dry, boring history or a list of virtues. You’re breathing life into your brand and making it relatable to your audience. You’re trying to personalize it, so write inclusively in second- or third-person and use pronouns like “you,” “we,” and “them” to engage audience members and make them part of your brand’s narrative, so they want to become part of your long-term story.
The worst thing you can do in your brand manifesto is trying to sell yourself and your “best-in-class” products overtly. Wrong channel. Your manifesto will ring hollow as a cheap marketing gimmick and undermine what you’re trying to achieve. No one likes to feel like someone is blatantly manipulating them. Instead of telling your customers how awesome you are, show them how they’ll be better off with you as a partner. Be authentic.
Smart brand marketers understand that people aren’t satisfied with the status quo. Most of us want to transform our lives by fashioning a new and improved version of ourselves. Your manifesto should use words that spark the imagination and spur action. Help them believe you’re on their journey with them.
- Use language that incites people to engage their passions and act on their aspirations.
- Push the bounds with your writing – do something memorable with your style and form.
- Be concise and get straight to the point. Don’t get lost in the journey.
- Prompt your audience to imagine your product or service changing their life.
- Be bold. Be sharp. Be unmistakable.
Don’t just write it. Live it.
People can smell hypocrisy. They despise fakeness. Your company has to believe in your manifesto. Your employees must believe in it too and live it. Otherwise, it’s just words with no substance.
Use your brand manifesto to guide your journey every step along the way. Whether you’re speaking to your audience through email, blogs, or social media, your brand manifesto will help you keep a consistent voice. Use it as the foundation for every decision you make when promoting your company to create new and lasting connections.
Brand manifesto examples
Here are a few examples of brand manifestos that get it right.
Nike is a world giant that uses some of the globe’s most iconic superstars like Ronaldo, Lebron James, Serena Williams, and Tiger Woods, but you never hear it boasting about how its innovative equipment makes them run faster, jump higher, or perform better. They remain true to their emotional why – they’re here to help us all on our quest for greatness.
You’d expect a company that makes jeans to feature models sporting the latest look while a narrator extols the virtues of durable fabric and well-constructed seams. However, Levi’s wants you to catch yourself before you settle for the mundane and quietly drift into mediocrity. It created a brand manifesto that makes you want to leap up from your desk with nothing but the clothes on your back and following your instincts to go out to seize the day before it’s too late.
Holstee introduced one of the most recognized brand manifestos on the web that successfully inspired and moved the audience. Through an eye-catching use of typography, Holstee created something visually arresting that also had a message that resonated.