Friday, December 31, 2010

Forget a Mission Statement, you need a Manifesto

The first time I checked out the Jonathan Adler website I saw that rather than having a page for corporate "philosophy, mission statement, or something equally banal. No- the designer who brought us Zanax cookie jars had a 'manifesto' ! I read it and laughed out loud and agreed with most of it. (You can see it below, it has changed and grown a bit since then, but the gist is the same.)

I was taken aback, however by the use of the word 'manifesto'. To me the word manifesto had a negative vibe; I associated the word with terrible historical events which were catalyzed by these "manifestos". Examples include: Mein Kampf (Hitler's Manifesto), Manifest DestinyThe Manifesto of the Communist Party by Carl Marx, the Unibomber Manifesto, and so on.

So, like any good student of the modern world, I googled the word and hit paydirt with a nice variety of definitions that helped to clear up my misguided understanding. 

Now feeling reassured about the idea of a "manifesto" I loved the idea of a list of beliefs, values, and strategy that interjects more personality than a boring boiled down mission statement. 

Mission statements have always seemed so generic to me; it seems like a perfect puzzle opportunity to list company names on one side and mission statements on the other and see how many people can match them up correctly. I'm guessing not many. (See the little match up quiz at the bottom of this post and test your knowledge).

A manifesto has personality of the company, the family, or the organization. It expresses the core values, the mission, the strategy, and more. A manifesto provides the answer key to any questions that may arise. If it cannot answer that question, then it should be used as a framework, a set of parameters to both answer the question, and expand the manifesto. It is the DNA of the organization. The brand. The image. The past, present, and future. It's legacy.

Aardvark Manifesto
Below are a few examples of great graphically designed manifestos from corporations, design firms, individuals, and families. You can create your own great looking custom manifesto using info-graphic software or work with Aardvark On Sea through Etsy who is the creator of some of the images below. 
My all time favorite ... Jonathan Adler's Manifesto!  
An Inspiration to all people like me who don't think that getting older means you have to become a "grown up"!

3 of the now 43 points of Bruce Mau's "Incomplete Manifesto for Growth" for all 43 click here


Answer key: B1, G2, H3, D4, A5, E6, I7, G8, C9, E10
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