How to create an epic brand manifesto for your startup

Creating a timeless brand manifesto is more important to a startup’s success than one might think. We provide a couple of tips on how to create a manifesto that breathes epicness.
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Creating a brand manifesto for your startup is easy peasy. But creating an epic one, that is a challenge in itself. But let’s start with the basics: What is a brand manifesto?

A brand manifesto is simply a call to action. It is the core message and values of your brand manifested into a corporate “soul” that demands an emotional response from your audience.

Some say the brand manifesto is of little importance to a startup, and that it is solely the efforts and achievements of the startup that determines success. But at Dreamify, we disagree. We believe that the brand manifesto is one of the key ingredients to long term success. It is the collective energy field of a startup, steering the company into making certain crucial decisions and taking certain directions. And without it, it is like Mr.Burns from The Simpsons: An entity without a soul.

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Start with the Why

The chances of failing as a new startup is pretty big. In fact, 90% of them fail. So in order to increase your chances of reaching success, you should try to analyze and perfect as many parts of your startup entity as possible. And determining and communicating your primary purpose is certainly one of those parts. In other words, you need to start with the Why.

As humans, we would like to think that we make decisions based on logic and reason. But I can tell you, we don’t. At a subconscious level, it is our emotions that drive our actions. And emotions are nothing less than energy in motion.

This is why your startup brand manifesto should revolve around why you do something, rather than what or how. The why is what evokes emotions in your audience which leads to concrete action, and hopefully they’ll even start worshipping your brand because your purpose resonates so strongly with who they are and what they believe in.  

Let’s say you’re building the next Tinder, but you chose to let personality traits guide the matchmaking process rather than physical appearance. If that is the case, you might want to let your manifesto express your belief in why personal qualities matter more than physical appearance in the quest for a long term partner.    

Ditch the clichés and be a braveheart

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Clichés are convenient and easy to generate. They also tend to appeal to a large audience, which is also where they fall short. You cannot please everybody, and trying to do so with the help of clichés is probably not a good move. Clichés no longer work as well as they used to, as consumers are becoming more and more choosy and demanding when selecting the right brand.

However, you can still use the fundamental meaning of a certain cliché and “twist it” 180 or 360 degrees before including it in your startup brand manifesto. Competition is fierce in almost any field these days and as we have seen, the startup fail rate is high. So you cannot afford to be a boring cliché machine. You have to be a little clever, quirky and bold. But don’t take it to the extreme by going full maniac as this will obviously scare people off.

Now here’s an example of a cliché in action (No offence to zappos who included this in their manifesto, we genuinely like your branding and your website!). It is by all means a beautiful message, but you’ve got to admit it lacks edge:

“Delivering happiness: a path to profit, passion and purpose.”

And to the contrary, here’s an example of a manifesto we find so powerful and timeless, that sharing it may by itself be considered an act of cliché. Hats off to Apple with their golden nugget “Here’s to the crazy ones” from 1997:


Amplify your USPs

This tip may sound obvious to you. But holding back your unique selling points in an act of shyness or fear of coming across as boastful is actually quite common among new businesses. At least from our experience. If you run a startup and truly believe that what you are building is different, you have to show it. In other terms, you can use your brand manifesto to beef up the unique elements of your business idea. As mentioned earlier, be a Braveheart. But don’t be Mel Gibson, he is already taken.

As you may already know, people are addicted to novelty, but that could actually be a sign of well-being according to science (At least if you pair it with the right combination of other traits). So don’t be afraid to highlight what you bring to the novelty table. Focus on the unique elements of your business idea in your brand manifesto, but try to limit it to your top three USPs to avoid cognitive overload. And as always, don’t overdo it either.

What you really want is to make sure that the cool and disruptive elements of your startup i repeated enough times to get your target audience hooked to your brand. However, if you decide to repeat your number one top USP several times in your manifesto, say it in three different ways to add some variation.       

Walk the manifesto talk 24/7

When your manifesto has finally grown a powerful voice along with a pair of arms and legs, it is time to put it to the test and walk the talk. At Dreamify, we believe your brand manifesto should be so pure and authentic that you will confidently live by it across all aspects of your life, including outside of work. These days, authenticity sells like hotcakes so make sure to take full advantage of that and be who you truly say you are. Because what else could you do? Live by it 24 hours a day, and wear it with great pride no matter if you’re sales pitching at a fancy conference or engaging in intense deep talk with your neighbour (The latter is pretty uncommon in our northern countries by the way).

Reach out for expert help

Crafting an epic brand manifesto for your startup can take a lot of time and effort. And as a new startup standing ready on the launch pad, you may only have one chance to hit the target. Thus, getting that extra push from professionals within branding might be something to consider. At Dreamify, we promise to build a branding and brand manifesto that increases the chances of your startup experiencing a soaring lift-off.

David Christner

David Christner

David is a designer & branding expert from our Swedish design partner Dreamify, who envisions a world where all of us follow our own hearts, not other people’s hearts.

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