How Brand Manifestos Can Illustrate Your Product Vision

What is the story of your product? You might be able to name where the first idea came from in 10 different ways. And if you’re the founder, the product you’re creating often feels like part of who you are.

But conveying why your product exists to your audience takes more than a good founder story. To grow your product’s presence, you have to think big. You have to tell a story with widespread impact.

One way product companies achieve this is by using a brand manifesto, a statement of what they believe and how that belief led to a product that’s affecting the world for the better. Brand manifestos illustrate not just who you are, but what exactly you stand for and how that’s motivating the vision for your product.

What’s Your Product Vision?

All great products start before they exist.

In the world of product, dreaming is just as important as delivering—as long as your dreaming is focused on real outcomes. Defining your product vision helps you focus your ideas, which will then set you up for success when it’s time to build.

To figure out your product vision, you need to start with a great product marketing foundation. At this point, you’ll want to cement your strategies around positioning and ultimately craft a foundational statement that reflects who you are. As we’ve discussed before, foundational statements need to be true and reflect what you do, why what you do is important, and how that makes you different from competitors.

But the work doesn’t stop there. You then need to apply your positioning to your product roadmap so that you’re making intentional choices as you build. Then, as you roll out your brand, you can focus on reinforcing the foundation so your buyers not only see, but feel, what your product is all about.

Bridging Product Vision and Brand with a Manifesto

The goal of a great product brand is to establish and influence perceptions about your product. It should emphasize the traits you’ve listed as part of your foundational statement, culminating in a brand promise that you can share with your audience.

Brand promises should ultimately be simple and clear to your audience. But if you’re operating in a new space, or if you’re trying to bring a new alternative to a space that’s crowded with well-known competitors, you may have more explaining to do with what your brand seeks to achieve. At this point, you’ll want to consider creating a brand manifesto.

Brand manifestos explain directly to your audience why your product exists at all. They prioritize emotion and show your audience the deeper values motivating your work.

Importantly, brand manifestos don’t exist on their own. What you write in a manifesto should be reflected in the other components of your brand. If not, you risk taking action in ways that don’t reflect your original vision.

Traits of Winning Brand Manifestos

What does it take to create a brand manifesto that illustrates your product vision? The best manifestos have a few key qualities.

1. They center the why. The messaging on your website and within your product should clearly explain what your product does and how it solves your audience’s problems. A brand manifesto owns the why behind your product. They tend to address the wider context that inspired the company to act while reinforcing why a digital product is the needed solution.

Because of this, manifestos can get existential. Apps about personal productivity, for example, could leverage important data about how we research online. The personal notetaking and productivity tool mymind uses a brand manifesto to do this and more. The company explains the realities of limited privacy online, and the many social factors that can influence our thinking when researching an intended subject. As they write, “Our minds have been taken captive: by social approval systems, by newsfeeds and timelines, by advertisements and corporate agendas. Our information is scattered across platforms, bound by terms and conditions.”

For mymind, productivity and privacy are correlated. They influence each other. The brand manifesto explains this and, importantly, positions the mymind product as what will lead to better results thanks to the app’s overall product experience.

2. They speak to the intended audience in a voice they’ll recognize. Brand manifestos simply don’t work if they don’t speak to the people who need to know about your product. If you divorce your audience from what you write in your manifesto, you risk writing platitudes you believe to be true—but that might not be the case for everyone else. Brand manifestos should serve as a rallying cry and offer themes that are relevant to your entire audience.

3. They illustrate aspirations that are greater than the product itself. Brand manifestos are not product descriptions. Brand manifestos showcase why a product exists in the first place, and typically speak to problems that are much larger than a single company. The goal in writing a brand manifesto is to take ownership of the fight for something better, even if that contribution is small or a starting point.

Take the international scheduling tool Doodle. When Doodle rebranded, the company posted an explanation that follows the brand manifesto model. The focus of their explanation is on a concept that affects literally every person, and particularly those in Doodle’s buying audience: time. We all need it, but many of us struggle to manage it in our daily lives.

Doodle can’t solve the lack of time itself. But with its professional scheduling product, the company is helping more people effectively own what time they have. The rebrand announcement shows their audience why that’s the case.

Summary

Brand manifestos are not product descriptions. In fact, the best manifestos aren’t entirely descriptions of your company and what you do. Brand manifestos make clear to your audience why you exist, the context you’re working in, and why your audience should care. When used wisely, brand manifestos show your buyers you’re here for a reason—to affect a problem that’s bigger than yourself.