My team and I spent the last month developing a brand manifesto for one of our hospital clients in Arkansas. It was truly a wonderful collaboration with the hospital’s marketing team. The purpose of the manifesto is for the organization to drive a stake in the ground – clearly declaring who it is, what it stands for and what it believes in. It is intentionally crafted to be a powerful, emotional document. This declaration gives us the foundation for all of the marketing we will produce and for the messages we will share with employees of the organization. It impacts our storytelling; and it impacts our decision-making. When we’re in doubt, we can hold ourselves and our marketing up to the brand manifesto and see if we are living up to the promises it contains. It is the beacon that guides us!
When we had a draft of the brand manifesto that we felt good about, we took one additional step. One of my co-workers and I, together with our client, spent the last two days meeting with small groups of the hospital’s employees to share the draft manifesto with them. You see, employees have a built-in BS meter. They can smell BS a mile away. We wanted them to read the manifesto and call out any red flags. Does it over promise? Does it use language that is inaccessible or unclear in any way? Are employees going to immediately dismiss it because it feels contrived? Can we live up to everything it promises? From a positive perspective, does it ring true with you? How does it make you feel when you read it?
I can report to you that today the brand manifesto is significantly different than the draft we walked in with on Monday morning! Wow. The employees helped us eliminate terminology that was just too complicated and not accessible. They also helped us remove language where the meaning wasn’t clear. Thankfully, they helped us shorten the manifesto and remove superfluous phrases and entire sentences.
Today, the brand manifesto is vastly improved and resonates with the target audience. Heck, the target audience played a significant role in helping us craft the document. They now own it.
The lesson: Good marketing is always built on insights from the target audience. I keep learning this lesson over and over again. My experience in Arkansas over the last two days just affirms this learning. Man, this has been one heck of a week and its only Wednesday!
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