What are brand manifestos?

Brand strategists often wrap up their final presentations to clients with brand manifestos, a short, emotional, research-backed story that rallies and excites stakeholders to an organization’s purpose and new brand vision.

 Provided by Kelly O’Keefe, Founding Partner, CEO, Brand Federation

I’ve collaborated with clients to author dozens of manifestos over the course of my career, and they remain a cornerstone for every strategy Brand Federation develops.

One client’s reaction a few years ago sums up the manifesto’s power.

“One response to the manifesto, which captured our team’s general sentiment, was, ‘This is who we are, and this is who we want to become,’” Chris Little, founder of SingleStone, a technology consulting firm, said. “The manifesto gave us exactly what we needed to become more intentional and more authentic in an ongoing journey to discover and express a truer, wiser, and more beautiful version of ourselves.”

SingleStone Brand Manifesto ExampleWhile this manifesto is over a decade old, the passion for serving humanity demonstrated in SingleStone’s actions and captured in the manifesto has endured, even as they’ve evolved and grown to add WayPath, a new business with a common set of beliefs. My partners and I were honored to continue our work with SingleStone and WayPath’s leaders this year as we collaborated to articulate the values that guide the businesses.

Manifestos that stir emotion and inspire action contain some core components, and, when they hit the mark, they can help serve as a brand’s north star.

What are the elements of a well-crafted manifesto?

The key to crafting a powerful manifesto is understanding that you aren’t sharing a positioning statement, a mission statement, or a point of difference. You are describing a worthy quest and inviting others to join you in vigorous pursuit.

While great manifestos vary significantly in tone, length and construction, most have these four elements in common:

1. ASPIRATION

Describe the world your organization wants to see. You may want to live in a world without hunger, or to wipe out cancer, poverty, or human rights abuses. A manifesto should express the ideal state your organization’s work pursues.

Specify why you do what you do, and to emphasize the world you want to see.

2. OBSTRUCTION

Obstructions hinder achievement of aspirations. Defining them in a manifesto amplifies a sense of urgency and clarifies the problem your organization solves.

Amplify the obstacles you must overcome.

3. INTENTION

Affirm the purpose behind your brand and the role your organization plays in helping to overcome those obstacles and achieve the aspiration. Purpose, while not a mission statement, aligns with an organization’s mission, vision, and values.

Inspire people with an affirmation of who you are and what you’re doing to make a difference.

4. ACTIVATION

Finally, a solid manifesto shares specifics about your approach and how you intend to achieve your stated aspiration.

Clarify how you go about fulfilling your purpose and achieving your aspiration.

4 Traits of Powerful Brand Manifestos

  1. Aspiration: Specify why you do what you do, and to emphasize the world you want to see.
  2. Obstruction: Amplify the obstacles you must overcome.
  3. Intention: Inspire people with an affirmation of who you are and what you’re doing to make a difference.
  4. Activation: Clarify how we go about achieving our purpose.

How does a well-crafted manifesto make marketers’ lives easier?

Great brand manifestos deliver strategic differentiation and inspiration, helping your organization tell a compelling story about why it exists. They also carry the day-to-day load in ways that make marketers grateful.

Apple Brand Manifesto

“You can break it into copy points for social media, and they can be used in creative briefs to set the brand ‘tone.’” – Leah Muhlenfeld 

“They’re fantastic scripts for voice overs in internal or external videos.” – Ashley Devereux

“Manifestos are great hunting grounds for slogan, ad, and other content ideas. They are super helpful, too, for internal pride building, helping employees to understand how their work serves a larger purpose.” – Kelly O’Keefe

“They can be a roadmap for execution and application of brand for an organization to mine ideas for resonance and emotional ownership.” – Frazier Armstrong

“Manifestos are guides for internal and external messaging, and creative sparks for campaign ideas.” – Christian Munson

A well-crafted, on-point brand manifesto sets the course for organizations and helps marketers bring the brand to life.

Need help with your brand manifesto? Contact Brand Federation today to begin a journey that will take your organization to the next level. 

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