A focused brand brings simplicity and clarity to your marketing. Like a person, it tells you how it likes to dress, walk and talk. All you need to do is stay on track, and resist the urge to contort it into something new because you’re bored with success.

But could your brand focus your entire business? Or even elevate it?

Enter the manifesto brand.

The idea came to me listening to¬†Emmanuelle Wargon of Danone speak at the Sustainable Brands conference in Vancouver. She introduced the concept of a manifesto brand – one that blended the essence of your business model, your trust model, and, of course, your brand. I loved the expansion of the brand’s scope, and how it invited us to think bigger about our brand’s power.

A manifesto brand blends the essence of your business model, your trust model, and your brand. Win win win.

Here’s how it works.

Your business model

For the purpose of this exercise, let’s define your business model as the way you make money. This can be the brass tacks (we’re a subscription-based SaaS business), but you can stretch it to bring in the philosophical (we sell gear that gets more people outside, but we’re also a movement that preserves nature).

The reason I mention the philosophical side of your business is that all too often companies buy / build brands that have no apparent connection to the raison d’etre of the business. They’re solely there to make money. I once worked with a massive multinational that was started as a home and business cleaning company. Their latest acquisition? A fountain pen brand. The connection? Not even the brand manager could tell me. The result? I’m guessing confusion.

Is there a brand, product or service in your company that isn’t connected to your mission? This sows confusion and dilution.

The way to prevent this is to have a clear manifesto on what your company hopes to achieve in the world as it makes money. This is the business model of your manifesto brand.

your trust model

A business doesn’t exist in a vacuum. It’s the partnership with consumers that makes it a success.

This brings us to the second pillar of your manifesto brand. What do your consumers trust you to do?

A few years ago, when consumers started rebelling in large numbers against big tobacco, Camel introduced a clothing line. Instead of smoking like a globe-trotting adventurer, Camel was asking you to dress like that adventurer.

Camel may have been good at marketing cigarettes. But consumers didn’t trust the brand to sell clothing.

Consumers didn’t buy it. Camel was good at marketing cigarettes, but clothing? What was the connection? The ploy to shore up flagging cigarette sales was transparent, and it didn’t work.

Now a success story. Johnson and Johnson brands itself as a family company. As far as I can tell, every single one of its products reinforces this manifesto. Consumers trust J&J to create products that make families happier.

Ask yourself. What do your consumers trust you to do? Do the brands in your roster reflect that trust model? If you’re asking your fans to overreach in their trust (you loved our sandwiches, you’ll love our motor oil!), the only reward you’ll reap is cynicism and confusion.

the brand model

We all know what a brand is. But can your brands reflect not only their performance promise to consumers, but your higher purpose promise?

A wonderful example of this is Patagonia. Every time I buy a Patagonia shirt, I know the brand stands for high quality, ethically made outdoor gear. The higher purpose, however, is support for environmental preservation.

Are your product brands just product brands? Or can they do more?

The opportunity

I believe manifesto brands are an opportunity to bring clarity, alignment and reinforcement to your company. By enlisting brands to ‘support the bigger cause’, you create a vision for consumers to buy into and support. Inversely, your higher purpose imbues the product brand.

That’s a manifesto for good business in a purpose-driven age.

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