A brand manifesto is a public declaration of intent, and the beliefs, values and actions that will deliver that intention.
Why do we love Apple? Innocent? Howies?
Because we know who they are.
We know what gets their people out of bed every day, what they stand for. We also know their values, what they commit to, how they make choices. And we know that who they are informs what they do – the products they make, the services they offer.
A manifesto is a powerful expression of this purpose and shared values. It’s an inspiring narrative that sparks like-minded people to agitate on the brand’s behalf, creating a sense of belonging and being part of something bigger, something meaningful, something that matters.
Writing your manifesto
Set aside some proper time. Get everyone together. Get a flip chart, an easel and some big fat pens. Put the definition of a manifesto on the wall so everyone’s clear. Share your favourite manifestos. Talk about what you love. Talk about how you feel. Talk about why you feel that way.
Then ask the following questions of your brand. I’ve divided them into three sections for ease of use.
Be sure to write down everyone’s answers on that flip chart. No judgment.
Part One: Where are we going and why?
What gets us out of bed everyday? What’s our big idea? Our shared purpose? What we want to rally people behind? What’s our plan for a better world? What’s wrong with the status quo? What do we want to change? What we want to disrupt?
Example: Holstee wants you to live your dreams, and appreciate every last bite.
Example: Escape the City wants you to do work that matters to you.
Part two: Who is with us?
Which cultural tribe is on our side? Who has our back?
Example: Levi’s want to enfranchise disenfranchised Millennials.
Example: Ted believes the future belongs to the curious.
Part three: What actions demonstrate our intent?
In other words, why should anyone believe us?
Example: Patagonia’s Worn Wear programme repairs 40,000 garments each year to help preserve the wild and the beautiful.
Example: Everlane protests against Black Friday excess by shutting down their website.
Ask people to do two things when they share their ideas.
Use the collective voice: We’re for, we believe, we create
Use the active voice – speak as agents of change: Embrace, climb, choose
This is to create a sense of shared ownership, and create momentum behind your ideas.
Putting it together
Some of these questions may help you more than others. That’s okay. You may not agree on the exact expression of the answers. That’s okay too. The point is to provide the stimulus for what comes next.
Give everyone some stars and ask them to award a star to their favourite statement in each section. Take the favourite statements and agree the common themes.
It’s hopeless trying to write as a committee. So, thank everyone profusely and let the copywriter slink off to a dark corner with all the notes, a working pen, and, if you’re feeling particularly generous, a packet of chocolate digestives.
Wait for him/her to emerge triumphant from the darkness. High fives all round.