September 29, 2021|
9 min read
Want to Discover Your Purpose? Write a Manifesto.
More and more people are picking up the idea of why as the central part of their brand. While some people dismiss purpose, more of us are realizing this is simple human biology. We buy based on emotion, not products; experiences, not services.
Think about that for a moment. You can buy any “treat” at the store, but you find yourself going for the bottle of Coca-Cola every time. Why? Maybe because so many of us associate Coke with the “good times”! Cracking a bottle of cola transports us back to an amazing concert with our friends. Or maybe it’s a simple day relaxing at the beach. Whatever the case, when we grab a Coke, we know we’re opening up good feelings.
Why do you go back to the same mechanic shop every time your car breaks? It’s not because they have the best prices or they’re the closest people. It’s because you trust the team there to deliver what you need: your vehicle fixed right. Chances are your trust will be higher if you also think the people at the shop are courteous and professional. You might even appreciate them giving you “straight talk.”
You didn’t just buy the service, then—you bought the experience, the whole package!
What this means for those of us with brands is that we need to think about not what or how, but why. Why are we here? Why do our customers come back to us? Why do they buy from us, and why are we in this industry?
I’ve been banging on this drum for a while—simple human psychology dictates this principle. It’s not manipulation or anything shady. It’s that human beings are emotionally driven creatures, and we make decisions based on feelings. So, as brands, we have to tap into what we make our customers feel—because that’s what we’re selling.
Discovering the Why of a Brand
For me, it’s encouraging to see more people reaching this conclusion. To build successful brands, we need to figure out what’s at the core—what makes our organizations tick? And sure, some people think we’re out to lunch with this idea, that the only “purpose” a business can have is “making money.”
That’s a goal, not a purpose. A purpose goes much deeper. I’ve said it before, if your only purpose is to make money, most of the time, there’s an easier, better way to do it. So why are you in the particular industry you’re in? Why do you sell fast food or clothing or electronics or toys? None of those things are guaranteed money-makers, so “make money” can’t be the reason you’re here.
When we start to dig a little bit, we usually discover there’s something else driving our brands. Coca-Cola is one of the biggest beverage manufacturers in the world. Their purpose is to make enjoyable experiences even better. The purpose of a snack company is to bring people together over food. And the purpose of an electronics company could be innovating and exploring. Or it might be making things easier.
Most often, our purpose ties back to values we have as well. A brand that believes in innovation values out-of-the-box thinking, quirkiness, and individuality. A company that makes life easier might be interested in improving standards of living. A company that makes great snacks understands the importance of food in social situations—like when you have a party or family movie-night. Snacks can make or break the experience. So a snack company isn’t actually about the food—it’s about how the food brings us together or makes life more enjoyable.
A Brand Manifesto Can Help Unearth “Why”
Many guides recommend tackling a manifesto only after you’ve identified the “why” of your brand. But what if you’re having trouble identifying those values, that core purpose?
A manifesto could actually help you discover exactly what your brand is all about. Writing it out could help “connect the dots” in a way that a bullet-point list can’t capture.
It is easiest to write a brand manifesto if you already have some idea of what your brand purpose is. Starting with a single line gives you direction, an anchor to build on.
If you’re unsure of what your brand purpose is, talk to your loyal customers. Don’t do another survey with some open-ended questions with them. Take the time and do the deep dive to discover what is uniquely different – that raw insight that your brand owns. It is the power inside your brand that will shift everything you market and how you sell.
Those statements can help you identify your purpose. Take Apple as an example. Their brand manifesto includes a toast to “the misfits,” “the rebels,” and “the ones who see things differently.” The manifesto goes on to say that these people push things forward and change things.
And, at its core, Apple is a company that’s all about innovation, about new ways of thinking and doing things! Until Apple came along, everyone was using text-based command execution on computers. You pretty much had to know code to use a computer at all. And then Apple said, “What if we made an image-based interface?”
Computers became accessible to almost everyone. To launch a program, you didn’t need to know a string of specific code. You could point-and-click. And that outside-the-box thinking launched the entire PC revolution.
Apple did it again with the iPod, and then with the iPhone and the iPad. So “the misfits” and “the rebels” and the “ones who see things differently” are all the kinds of people Apple speaks to. Apple employs them. And the company designs products for them.
We could see this in another strength of Apple too. They’re the computer manufacturer of choice for many people in the arts. Their preference for graphics makes them a natural fit for graphic designers. Large monitors and retina displays are a bonus. What about people making films on the iPhone? And don’t forget the infamous GarageBand, starting ground for many musicians.
Little wonder that Apple draws these people in—artists in all their forms are misfits. To be an artist, some say, you have to see things differently and think outside the box!
Nike and Greatness
It’s no secret that Nike works with the greats—they’ve done that for a long time. You see the big names with the brand: Serena Williams, LeBron James, and many more.
In some ways, that speaks to how good Nike products are. But it’s actually speaking more about the brand’s purpose—and how these sports greats and the sportswear giant have a common quest.
They’re all seeking greatness. That quest to be the best fuels greats like LeBron James to new heights. They’re always pushing further, faster, looking better performance.
So is Nike! The sportswear giant is always pushing the boundaries, seeking new ways to get even more out of athletic performance. A great example is the carbon-plate technology they’re using in their “Next Percent” shoes. This innovative technology acts like a spring, propelling you further with every step. Innovations in foam help to reduce impact on your joints.
Even as Nike seeks to get the most out of each performance, they’re also making products that help people like you and me achieve more. When we team up with Nike, we can unlock our own greatness. At every level, the brand’s purpose is clear. They do what they do so athletes of all stripes can be better than they were the day before, so they can go from “good” to “great” with every workout.
A Brand Manifesto Is Not a Mission Statement
Those examples give us a good idea of what a brand manifesto looks like. Plenty of people start writing the manifesto once they’ve identified their purpose. It helps to clarify exactly what their purpose and values are. It can act as a call to action or a promise. In other cases, people can use the manifesto to discover the core of their brand. By writing about what you do or what your customers expect from you, you might find your purpose.
One thing to keep in mind while you’re writing a brand manifesto is that you’re not writing a mission statement. It’s easy to confuse the two, but they’re not the same. A mission statement can lay out your purpose clearly. It also tells you where you want to take the company.
A manifesto is more like a celebration of your purpose. Think about Apple’s manifesto again. It reads like a toast to their team members, their customers, their brand evangelists. Nike’s manifesto is similar: it says “greatness is wherever somebody is trying to find it.”
That’s not a mission statement; it doesn’t tell us what the brand is trying to do, its goals. It doesn’t explicitly state a purpose. Instead, it feels like encouragement, a rallying cry for all the “mediocre” athletes out there or people who are just starting a workout routine for the first time in their lives. Nike’s purpose is evident there, but in a way that draws the audience in.
You can think of the manifesto as a way of communicating with the people who love your brand. You want to get them excited or hyped up. You want to show them why they’re part of your brand’s “family” or “clan.” There’s a common thread bringing you altogether—and that’s what is in the manifesto.
A manifesto can be a tool to help you discover purpose or to help you put your purpose into words. Either way, it helps us start where we need to: with the why!
A little more about me. My goal is and always will be to inspire and create conversation!
I am a businessperson who has excelled in driving a competitive edge through marketing, strategy, innovation, building irresistible brands and unlocking the genius that exists. I am writing to inspire or create new consideration. If you have ideas or questions that you would like me to put a pen too, I would be delighted.
I would also be grateful if you shared this or any of the articles, I have written to inspire others
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