When the team at VOLT asked us to brand and launch a cosmetic facial paint as an alternative to gentlemen’s beard dye, our strategy had to address gender norms and behavioral bias in the men’s grooming category.
After decades spent developing makeup for the special effects industry, the VOLT team knew that the best application method for their formula was with a spoolie—AKA, a mascara wand.
But while society has come a long way in normalizing male usage of cosmetic products, it’s stopped short of mainstream adoption of beard mascara. Our research, however, showed that millions of men color their beards.
Our challenge was to create a brand for VOLT that would help regular guys feel emboldened by the act of covering their grays with the swipe of a wand, instead of being embarrassed by it?
From positioning, to visual banding, to package design, our answer to this question was comprehensive. However, one important part of our strategy was to give VOLT a bold brand manifesto.
In sunrise sessions and personal bests.
In setting goals and crossing finish lines.
In days that you win and days that you learn.
In hot shaves and hotter showers.
In looking good but feeling better.
In simple solutions and second-skin formulations.
In products that never quit.
And confidence that never fades.
What is a brand manifesto?
Different from a mission statement, which states what your organization does, a manifesto declares why you do it. But it’s not just any why. It’s an impassioned why. It’s a why that grabs you by the jugular, that shouts from the rooftops, or that whispers a truth so true that you can’t help but lean in and hang on every last word. A manifesto is the place to codify your brand’s highest ideals, aspirations, and motives.
How do you know if your brand needs a manifesto?
If you’re trying to create a groundswell, challenge the status quo, offer a new paradigm, rally your people behind an audacious goal, or cast a wildly different vision for the future, chances are you need a manifesto. Previously used by brands as an internal rallying cry, nowadays manifestos are increasingly being directed at consumer audiences with impressive results.
In the case of VOLT, the paradigm shifting idea was that men should feel confident in the habits and rituals they practice to feel good in the skin they’re in. Whether that’s a daily sweat session, trips to the barber, or giving your beard a little TLC, self-care is something to be celebrated no matter who you are.
Elements of a great brand manifesto
There is no single formula for writing a brand manifesto. In fact, a formula goes against the slightly punk energy required to write a compelling one. That said, here are the three elements we believe every great brand manifesto has.
When we sit down to write a manifesto on behalf of a client we always start with heart. What will you fight for? What won’t you stand for? What do you believe needs to change? What’s the new reality that you’re inviting others into? Such are the heart-centered questions that a great brand manifesto speaks to.
A great manifesto offers a style and oratory cadence that feels more like a sermon or JFK moonshot speech than a polished, grammatically correct mission statement. Think of it as your brand with its hair down and collar loose, speaking “off the record,” imploring you to add your voice to its rallying cry. The language must be strong, spirited, and full of personality.
Lastly, a great brand manifesto should be equal parts audacious and believable. The goals and vision wrapped up in your manifesto need to be grounded in reality. If what you’re proposing is both hard and achievable, you’ve got the makings of a compelling brand manifesto.
Do you have a brand manifesto? If not, and you know it’s time to rally your people and audiences around a big, bold statement, get in touch. We’d love to help.