Stand up and be counted. The return of the manifesto!

Sharon Tanton

Valuable Content Manifesto image

Belief is back

When you think of a manifesto what comes to mind? Has politics soured your view of these brave public statements of aims? If it has, (and we wouldn’t be surprised) then that’s a big shame, and we hope to change your mind. We want to reclaim manifestos for the business world.

The act of thinking, writing and publishing a manifesto is good for business. It makes you answer some big questions. What’s our mission? What do we stand for? What do we believe? What do we want to change?

You may think that in the cut throat world of business it’s best to keep those emotive elements under wraps. We beg to differ, and business guru Simon Sinek agrees in one of the most watched TED Talks (with over 30 million views) – Start With The Why.

“People don’t buy what you do, they buy why you do it.” ~ Simon Sinek

In these low trust cynical days we all want to do business with people we can believe in – so make it easy for people to understand what you stand for. Creating a business manifesto is an excellent way to communicate your beliefs all around.

State how you want to change the world

Turning those ideas into some simple and compelling statements that everyone in the business can get behind is such a powerful exercise. Articulating just what it is that you’re trying to achieve gets people thinking and talking. You have to get your people involved – dreaming it up in a boardroom and then filtering it downwards leads to those wishy washy customer charters – so easy to parody and even easier to ignore. We care about customer service. Really? You don’t say!

“This is the time for wearing your heart on your sleeve, revealing the deep desires that drive the business. How do you want to change the world?”

Your manifesto should have some spark about it. Original words. Provocative not passive. This is the time for wearing your heart on your sleeve, revealing the deep desires that drive the business. How do you want to change the world? It’s definitely not the time for corporate speak or platitudes. Manifestos are a jargon free zone.

Here is an example to show you what we mean

Check out the ‘Good Systems‘ manifesto we helped awesome IT firm Desynit to create as part of their new brand and website: www.desynit.com/about-us/manifesto. A world away from your average technical message isn’t it?

You can do this too.

Desynit manifesto poster

Desynit’s manifesto became a poster

The power of a great manifesto

The finished manifesto will help people inside your business talk about what you do, and that’s a big benefit. Your people will really be able to get behind it. It will help them tell your story in a few good words, and the power of that should not be underestimated.

And it will help potential clients and customers understand you, and differentiate you from your competitors. If you get your manifesto designed up it will be an excellent addition to your About Us section. In these low trust cynical days we all want to do business with people we can believe in – so make it easy for people to understand what you stand for.

“Beautifully designed manifestos make brilliant shareable content too.”

Beautifully designed manifestos make brilliant shareable content too. Posters, downloads, giveaways for favourite clients. They give you something to talk about – fantastic Twitter fuel – and a link to your website where you can take people on to show your manifesto in action.

Remember every page of your website should act as a home page – and your manifesto leads beautifully on to your case studies or your library of content or just more About Us. Write a good one and potential clients won’t be able to resist clicking to find out more about the people behind it.

What’s the first step to creating your manifesto?

Start by talking with your best existing clients and customers. What do they like about what you do? How do you make them feel? Go way beyond ‘satisfied’ and ‘meeting expectations’ and dig for the things you do that genuinely brighten their lives.

“Be brave and original and valuable, and your manifesto will be a fantastic rallying call!”

Your manifesto needs to have the customer at the centre if it’s going to work for your business. Make it inward looking and no one will care. But be brave and original* and valuable, and your manifesto will be a fantastic rallying call!

>> Want to write your own manifesto? Get some ideas in our next post: How to create a meaningful manifesto for your business

* When it comes to powerful content like this design really matters. The Valuable Manifesto was crafted with design love from Lizzie Everard; Desynit’s Good Systems Manifesto by Christian Tait. We’d highly recommend them both.

SHARE THIS
Share on FacebookShare on Google+Tweet about this on TwitterShare on LinkedIn

4 Comments

  1. Thanks for sharing this story Sharon, and for doing such a great job working with us on our Good Systems Manifesto. The fact is that we refer back to our manifesto time and again, which is surely the true litmus test of whether or not you’ve got it right.

    It’s part mission statement, part customer promise, but mainly just a true reflection of the personality of the business and our values.

    I love the fact that its written in plain English. I love the illustrations. In practical terms, having these assets has been a great starting point for many of our customer communications.

    By the way, I think your VC manifesto is great- nice work! You really should get that printed on a tea towel. Can you save one for me?

    Reply
  2. VC tea towels – now THERE’s an idea! Thanks so much Amy. We absolutely love your manifesto – so glad it hit the spot.

    Reply
  3. Sharon Tanton

    Yes thanks very much Amy – delighted the manifesto is working so well for you.

    Of course now I am thinking tea towels too, and tea pots, and mugs. In fact I think we need a whole range of Valuable kitchen wear. Wouldn’t tea taste good from a ‘Tell a Good Story’ pot?

    Move over Nigella and Jamie – the Valuables are coming……

    Reply
  4. Another great manifesto example, this time from Sugru. Check out their ‘Fixer’s Manifesto’ here – http://sugru.com/manifesto. Brilliant.

    Any other examples do post them here.

    Reply

Submit a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *