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Writing a brand manifesto

Fashion PR: Keep Calm & Create a Brandifesto

Whether you collect inspirational quotes & images in a folder on your desktop, create elaborate mood boards or simply tumble or Pin your favorite online finds, the saving, sharing and viewing of words and images is de rigeur for creative types looking for a hit of inspiration throughout the day (myself included).

Taking this into account, its not surprising that when fashion brands & designers put their thoughts, motivations and values down on paper, these "brandifestos" begin to make the rounds. The right pairing of word and image can be a powerful way to visually communicate brand values, and with luck, drive relationship and mutuality between a label and its target customer.

A few of my favorites:

Holstee Launches & Leads With Values

"As we continue to design and curate, we hope to become the home for mindful consumers to connect with meaningful products online." - David Radparvar, Co-Founder Holstee

You have no doubt seen the above manifesto making the rounds of your favorite online haunts, but you might not know much about how it came into being. After deciding to let go of their day jobs and make a go of Holstee, a site for finding "kickass products, sustainably made, with a social impact," brothers Dave and Mike first sat down "to write the values we thought were important in life. More than a company, or clothes, we wanted to create a lifestyle. Together with our partner, Fabian, we sat on the sunny steps of Union Sq and wrote what would become the Holstee Manifesto. This document that has since been posted on the web more than we ever dreamed – it’s exciting and reassuring to see how many people associate such strong feelings with it."

A powerful marketing tool that has raised ample raise awareness about the new site, the Manifesto can be purchased as a poster or greeting card. In naming their own values at launch, Holstee effectively generated immediate goodwill and trust among potential customers. This content piece, and by extension the Holstee brand  is being shared daily among like-minded people, particularly online. All those backlinks don't hurt either!

The Lululemon Lifestyle

Lululemon Manifesto

The Lululemon first manifesto is part health & wellness, part old-fashioned good advice. The manifesto has inspired countless blog posts and reblogs, and the brand even had one of their own blog authors embark on a 30 Days journey where she incorporated the principles of the manifesto into her life. Of course, the manifesto is also available for purchase, as a poster or a tote, further extending the brand reach and cementing the bond between brand and customer.

Vivienne Westwood's Call to DIY

Vivienne Westwood Manifesto

"In the hard times, dress up!" - Hard to argue with that!

Dame Vivienne Westwood hand-wrote this manifesto to communicate her DIY platform. With the above image making the rounds, she even went so far as to tell the Telegraph. "Don’t buy my clothes. Well, if you are rich or can afford a stylist, you can get me. But if not, do it yourself. My idea is that you can mix charity, vintage, Portobello Road, pieces of Ikat fabric; wrap it all around yourself, use a handkerchief as knickers, mix safety pins and jewellery. But above all do something! Be optimistic!”

Wildly recognized for bringing the punk DIY aesthetic to the mainstream (as well as designing for and dressing the Sex Pistols), Vivienne Westwood somehow she gets away with telling people to not buy her clothes, while inspiring them to still to align with her values and, if they cannot afford her designs, to at least emulate them. That's the power of the dame!

How to Create Your Own Brandifesto

Many of us are skilled creative strategists who think carefully about the brand values and attributes of our own projects and those of our clients. Below are a few ideas to kickstart your own creative manifesto:

  • Define the difference - take a piece of paper and on one side write "We are" and on the other "We are not." Fill up the page with as many adjectives, examples and ideas as possible. If you have a business partner, have each of you do this independently, and then compare notes!
  • Play with Personas - play with your target customer and go deeper than basic demographics. Start to tell the story of Julia, your 30something single woman who loves yoga, jazz and bulldogs. What can you tell her about who your are or what you believe in that will motivate her to act, to share, to be inspired
  • Mine your Motivations - what motivates you to create? Why do you do the work that you do? Who do you work for? What does the perfect day look like for you? What words or creeds do you live by?
  • Crowdsource the Community - create a manifesto that combines the values and contributions of your customers. This could be a campaign, or even a simple Facebook status update asking for ideas

Once you are done, consider making the final product easily embeddable from your website, reading it aloud over a short film, printing it on your packaging, using it as the backdrop for store window displays, incorporating it into sales material, business cards, or hang tags. As a key piece of content marketing, the manifesto communicates your authenticity and your truth while at the same time driving brand conversation, loyalty and consumer connection.

Photo Credit: Helene Iracane

About the author: Crosby


Known as the "fashion publicist's most powerful accessory," (SD-UT) and the "West Coast 'It' girl of fashion PR," (YFS Magazine) Crosby Noricks is a brand strategist, author and founder of PR Couture. Crosby was included in the iMedia 25 Class of 2012 Internet Marketing Leaders and Innovators, and enjoys helping fashion and lifestyle brands connect with their audiences in meaningful and creative ways.

6 Comments

  • Posted March 25, 2011 at 1:56 pm | Permalink

    Great post. Only disappointed you included Lululemon as they are founded by a Landmark Education (formerly the Forum) prosthelytizer and their hiring policies include obligatory attendance of Landmark Education “leadership” training. Not sure how authentic their manifesto can really be considered.

  • Ellen
    Posted March 28, 2011 at 6:02 pm | Permalink

    This is a great post, and relates to the first step of creating a solid brand in any field. My favorite part is writing down what you are, as well as what you are not. My favorite of the three was the Holstee manifesto, the whole image speaks volumes about who they are and who their products serve!

  • Anonymous
    Posted March 30, 2011 at 8:30 pm | Permalink

    Cool post. Very informative. I think I’ll have to use this for me & my business partner. I think it’ll also help me with clients. I’m branching into the scary world of PR. I was doing so much complaining about bad PR that I finally realized I should just do it myself. Now I’m having fun juggling blogging & PR. Fun, fun, fun! lol

  • Posted April 5, 2011 at 4:08 am | Permalink

    Just a little Night~Cap of Inspiration <3 Sweet Dreams

  • Beth Fillerup
    Posted April 24, 2011 at 4:21 pm | Permalink

    Thank you very much for this post. The beauty of the Brandifesto is that they will work for any industry, they are easy to understand, and they convey so much about a company’s personality.

  • MP
    Posted June 26, 2011 at 7:18 am | Permalink

    any idea how or where i can buy the top 2 posters from???

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Meet Crosby Noricks

Hi. I'm Crosby, the founder of PR Couture and a fashion brand strategist. I care about supporting and celebrating fashion publicists as well as helping rad companies connect with their audiences in more meaningful ways. Recently, iMedia included me in their annual list of 25 Internet Marketing Leaders and Innovators, along with people from Starbucks, Twitter and Volkswagon, which I think is pretty neat. Like Elle Woods, I am a Gemini-vegetarian (that's about where the similarities end). Let's connect: Check out my full bio, Brand Elixer sessions or shoot me an electronic communiqué.