A manifesto on why a company doesn’t need a manifesto

manifesto-banner_webDesign companies will sometimes chip in with ad concepts in their brand guidelines that are almost laughable. Meanwhile ad agencies will chip in with design templates that often suck. It’s a tit for tat thing that is done to muscle in and bring in extra cash.

Enter the PR / consulting companies, and now you have clusterfuck of people vying to all get money for trying to think up something they know nothing about: A company’s manifesto.

Why? Because it’s a lot of money and prestige for coming up with something that’s a sentence or two long.

I was recently in a presentation from a brand consulting company that took 3 hours to unveil the new company’s manifesto. 150+ slides of shiny graphics, buzz words in wheels, comparisons, graphs, and power words.

All for the new manifesto that was 1 sentence long that pretty much said “we’re here to enable everyone to communicate and achieve more”. Erm okay. The cheque’s in the mail.

The thing with a manifesto is, do you really need one? Quite often a big hoo-hah is made over having a manifesto to address problems in the business. On one client I worked on, they noticed they were having customer service problems so a new manifesto was drawn up that was about how we make people’s lives easier.

The thing is though. They didn’t. And they looked more of a lame duck having a manifesto and strapline that was the opposite of their image. And the more they tried to meet their manifesto the more the public just laughed at them.

In one agency I was working at we ourselves had a manifesto and it was printed on canvases and stuck on walls around the agency. The only thing that was cool about them was the courier that was delivering them was struck by a car and died. So our manifesto had blood (so to speak) on them.

Did it empower the people to work more, and feel inspired? No. Was it just done because it felt like something we should have: most probably.

So my question to companies is this. Do you really need a manifesto? Do you? If you feel empowered and feel that it’s for the benefit of the company, then sure, go for it. But in the case of 90% of businesses, that you’re only creating one for the sake of it, think again. Ask yourself how much will it really benefit your business by having one… I’d honestly say that 90% of all businesses should just save the money and spend it on the Christmas party instead.


Perhaps the manifesto isn't meant to say something new to outsiders: it's meant to delineate the common goal of the organisation for those working within it. It is, in part, a tool for senior managers to help co-ordinate the actions of their junior employees, many of whom they will never meet in person.

posted by rauparaha / 11.07.11 - 10:50 pm

I completely agree with you. It is to create a common goal for those working within. And truthfully this article is a bit of a mess in so far as it doesn't clearly differentiate between when I'm talking about brand straplines and when I'm talking about a company manifesto (or set of workplace goals). I guess the point I was making is that the manifesto is quite often 1. not in touch with the employees themselves 2. doesn't resound positively with the employees (see a book 'Rivethead – IR conflicts at the GM plant in Flint Michigan' for an amazing read on that). 3, is so bland and meaningless that it could really be exchanged with one of a hundred other companies and serves no real guidance.

posted by Jono / 11.07.11 - 11:11 pm
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