Branding

Why You Need a Personal Manifesto in 2016—and How to Write One

Communication

It’s common practice for brands to operate under a manifesto—a written rally cry that binds people through a commonly held set of beliefs and values. As marketers, we know if we don’t understand our brand persona internally, it’s nearly impossible to communicate it to target audiences. (Note: if your brand doesn’t have a manifesto, stop reading this and call your creative agency yesterday.)

The same can be said for your own brand. As you dig into 2016, consider defining how and why you do what you do. Not sure where to start? Ask yourself these questions to kick off your brainstorm.

1. Chewbacca : Shyriiwook :: Kanye West : shitty rap lyrics :: Me : _________. IOW, what’s your communication style?

Intense. Honest. Kind. Compassionate. Sincere. Thoughtful. Poised. Unfiltered. Positive. Energized. Direct. Off-the-cuff. Succinct. Which this list is far from. You get the idea.

2. I thrive in an environment that values:

Independent, autonomous work. Fun, play, curiosity and exploration. Continued education. Interdepartmental collaboration. Positive and optimistic thinking. Entrepreneurial resourcefulness. Free donuts on Fridays.

3. I believe the best work is accomplished when:

We focus on amplifying team members’ strengths rather than “fixing” their weaknesses. We create an environment rooted in authenticity where every contributor’s voice is valued equally. We all eat a Snickers bar before meetings to stave off flippant comments from hangry participants.

Now that you’ve got a mess of concepts, find the common threads and organize them in a format that fits your creative style. It could be a simple statement or paragraph—or it could be much more. Someone in data or marketing ops might devise a manifesto in a spreadsheet or series of pie chart and bar graphs. Maybe a social manager whittles hers into 140-character blurbs. A children’s book. A video. A comic strip. Write a damn poem if eloquence and cadence speak to the inner Yeats of your brand ethos.

Some final quick tips:

  • Use intentional language and avoid being vague where possible.
  • Stay focused on the positive. Switch negatives like “I don’t believe abc” to “I do believe xyz.”
  • Put your manifesto somewhere you’ll see it daily.

So now you’re thinking, “When will you use this thing?” All the damn time. Share your personal manifesto the same way you might share your brand manifesto with a new client or team member. Let them know who you are and what you’re like to work with. Plus, when you’re having a shitty day and need a reminder of why you do what you do, you’ve got written proof of your badassery at the ready.

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