Tips for crafting a great #brandmanifesto

Great brands all are built on powerful stories or myths. As humans we want to belong to brands with emotionally engaging stories that make us feel something and provide us with social reward.

As a creative planner I often am tasked with developing a brand manifesto (sometimes called a brand story or brand creed) as the culmination of brand strategy development work. They typically serve as the springboard for the advertising creatives to crack an overarching idea for the brand but are often used as brand films to restate or relaunch a positioning in the market.

Now, I’ve written my share of brand manifestos over the years and they aren’t easy (I’m regularly bouncing ideas off great copywriters I work with) but super rewarding when you craft a good one. They require countless re-writes to truly capture the essence of the brand idea you’ve landed on in your strategy. Like all good stories/movies/video games, you should be able to some up the plot/interaction in a sentence, a single minded thought  which anchors your story.

My all time favourite brand manifesto/creed is from cult brand Harley Davidson. It perfectly captures the ‘bad boy rebel’ spirit of the brand.

Ok, here are some tips I’ve found useful when looking to craft a brand manifesto/story /creed and a few great examples.

  1. Build the story around a powerful promise/what you’re fighting for
  2. Bring to life what (and who) you’re for and against  
  3. Start each thought with ‘WE’… a belief system and relationship with the consumer you’re wanting to bring to life. Check out Victoria Secrets manifesto here made by VCU students
  4. Use emotionally powerful verbs, ‘doing’ words which inspire and motivate
  5. Have a beginning, middle and end which builds to the key message takeout
  6. The context of the statements should be both timely and timeless, tapping into fundamental human truths, not just quick trends that come and go
  7. Be evocative yet pointy –  short punchy statements not longwinded puffery. 
  8. Try to seamlessly bring the consumer, brand, category and cultural truths together in the narrative
  9. Dramatise the usage occasion and ideal brand relationship
  10.  Land on a key brand idea (which may or may not become the tagline)

Here’s a brand manifesto I recently wrote for the good people (Lloyd) at Big Richard – a great little condom brand here in Australia who wanted to be a little more mischievous than the Durex’s of the world. It’s a little longer and definitely more provocative than I’d normally write but one could say we had a lot of fun with this one:

At Big Richard, we’re for Mischief- Mating.

Big Richard is the story of a condom brand that understands that bit of life that most people don’t get. We don’t want you to wear our condoms if sex for you is just going through the motions, if sex is a routine. If there’s no fun, no injuries, no cringe stories, we’re not for you.

We are for the guys and gals who know how to do it and how to do it well.

There’s mischief involved.

There’s fun, there’s laughing. She bites your lip, so you pull her hair – you know how it is.

The kitchen bench is closer than the bed, as is the floor, the couch, the dining table and the hallway.

We’ve had enough of the awkwardness involved with condoms. We’re about lightening up that ‘condom moment’, even giving you a few acrobatic moves on our packaging,  but don’t blame us if you pull a hammy.

If you cry when you ‘make love’, we aren’t for you.

Unless of course those tears are because of the pain that’s mounting in your calves from your 40th minute of the Mexican Double Jaguar Scissor Twist position.

If you think spicing up your sex life means possibly lifting her leg up if she says yes, then look elsewhere for your chosen condom brand. If the loudest sex you’ve ever had is because the cat sat on the remote and turned the stereo up to 15, you aren’t our kind of guy.

We’re for doing it standing, sitting, laying, upside down, downside up.

We’re for the couples who are just as likely to fall off the bed as to fall on it.

If you’re up for that bit of cheeky sex, so are we

We’re careful, so you can be carefree.

We’re the official condom of the booty call.

Wherever, whenever, we’re that little bit of planning for all of your spontaneity.

Join the Mischief Mating. You know you want to.

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