Mission statements are dead. Those dull paragraphs, filled with vague aspirations of “to help people and businesses throughout the world realize their full potential”* are a way of the past. Today’s customers simply do not have the time or will to care about lofty and overly general objectives. We don’t have the attention to focus on some innocuous mission statement; however it is the brand’s job to make us care, to inspire us, to challenge us, and even to offend us if necessary, as long as you get our attention.
Mission statements are engineered to be general yet comprehensive, a statement that essentially stands for everything, which in reality, stands for nothing. Brands that want to set themselves apart will draw a line in the sand. Thankfully, there are those out there who are drawing these lines, and in doing so are creating more specific, transparent, and emotional stories to tell their customers why they exist, what they’re passionate about, and therefore why the customer should care.
Enter the brand manifesto, a clear and public declaration of purpose and intent. When done right, a manifesto not only inspires customers, but inspires employees and attracts future talent. This authenticity is no longer negotiable for brands that want to cut through the clutter of their competition. It’s no longer enough to be “different” because customers are inundated with messages from brands trying to be “different.” Apple owns “Think Different” and may have ruined it for everyone else. But that’s ok, turn inwards and be authentic, strip away the marketing speak and bare who you are, even call out the chinks in your armor if necessary, that’s what authenticity is about.
The following brand manifestos are taking a step in the right direction:
Grind – A workspace for free range humans.
Bruce Mau Design: Incomplete Manifesto for Growth
The Soap Group knows every revolution needs a manifesto.
The graphic design and visual nature of the manifesto plays an important role in how each is understood. With the continued growth of image sharing social platforms like Pinterest, the graphic presentation of the manifesto can be half as important as its content. We’ve seen the Holstee manifesto go viral, and quite possibly make Holstee more well known for their manifesto than for the clothing line they originally started with.
*Yep. That’s Microsoft. Who knew?