Today we're sharing our best thinking and agency process on how to write a brand manifesto.
Here's what we'll cover:
- What a brand manifesto is
- Why a brand manifesto is essential to your company or organization
- Three core components to a brand manifesto.
And as always, I'll leave you with a branding worksheet, so you can begin working on your brand manifesto.
Brand Manifesto Definition
A brand manifesto is a written statement that publicly declares your views, motives, and intentions. Your brand manifesto is the seed of your brand and the genesis of your company or your organization. It describes what you stand for, what you do every day, and what you're striving to achieve or become.
Why is a brand manifesto important?
"To manifest" is to make obvious, evident, to make it readily seen. Ask yourself, why would your company or your organization need to make its motivations and intentions readily seen?
In our previous lesson, we described a brand as an identity, which is an ethereal thing. To manifest is actually to bring that identity into existence, and if done correctly, it can help guide key strategic decisions like:
- Hiring and firing
- Merger and acquisitions
- What new services or products to develop
- Whether or not you should take on a new client
What are the components of a brand manifesto?
There are three central parts (i.e., pillars) to a brand manifesto: your mission, vision, and values.
1. Mission Statement
A mission statement is intended to describe what you do day to day. It describes your daily operations. There's a great book if you want to learn more about this called Made to Stick, and it's about how to write a mission statement that doesn't suck.
2. Vision Statement
A vision statement is really the aspirational goal, what you have in mind, what you're looking to become, or what you're looking to achieve. This is a way of describing your big, hairy, audacious goal, also known as a BHAG.
Another great book that you might want to check out, Built To Last.
3. Brand Values
And then lastly, your values. These are your core principles. These are the drivers that at the core you genuinely believe in, the non-negotiables if you will.
There's a great book called Principles by Ray Dalio, which goes into detail on why values are so important, especially when it comes to creating meaningful work and developing meaningful relationships.
Branding Activity: Non-negotiables
This activity will help you start writing your brand manifesto off to the right start.
- Identify and record all of your brand's non-negotiables
- Understand the relationship between non-negotiables and a brand manifesto
This activity will require some critical thinking. What's most important to you? What is non-negotiable in regards to your brand? It could be making money, being relevant, having fun, working with the right people.
Think about what is important to you and your brand (e.g., having fun, making money, giving back to society, being politically relevant, working with a small team or within a specific industry, etc.).
Set a timer for 10-minutes and jot down as many of these as possible. After the timer goes off, re-read them (preferably aloud) and put the paper away.
Over the next day or two, think about what you wrote and return to your list and edit it as you see fit. Repeat this as many times until you have no further edits. Then, your list is ready.
Remember: Don’t edit yourself during brainstorming. Write down everything that comes to mind. Whenever you discover or think of an additional touchpoint, add it to this list.
This list of non-negotiables probably won’t make sense as a Brand Manifesto just yet, but continue with the course to see how they fit into your Mission, Vision, and Values.
In the meantime, if a difficult decision arises, refer to this list to help guide your decision.
If you want to learn more about writing a brand manifesto, check out some of these resources:
- Internal Brand Co-creation: The Experiential Brand Meaning Cycle in Higher Education (Pages 2 - 7)
- Brand Identification in Higher Education (Introduction & Branding in Higher Education Section)
- Mission Statements in Business Higher Education: Issues and Evidence
- 8 Key Components of Mission Statements
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