The brand mantra

The final brand positioning building block is the brand mantra, which some refer to as the brand essence and others call a brand promise. A brand mantra is short (usually 2-5 words maximum), and encapsulates the competitive frame of reference, the points of difference, the points of parity, and everything else about your brand into one thought.

A brand mantra is to brand positioning what triple distillation is to liquor—they both remove the impurities, refining and simplifying to an essential form. 

A brand mantra is not an advertising slogan or tagline, and, in most cases, it won’t be something you use publicly at all. Great brand mantras can change everything. They become rallying cries that define everything a brand is and will ever be. But, because they are part purification process and part poetry, they are also incredibly hard to make well.

The most powerful brand mantras become part of the DNA of the organization, and are used to guide everyday decisions about strategy, user experience, voice, and a host of other things. The mantra becomes a touchstone that is returned to over and over again—especially when decisions start getting tough.

Time to work with your team to uncover a brand mantra for your brand.

Step 1 Share Knowledge

Start by having your team review the points of difference and points of parity you worked on in previous exercises.

Step 2 Ideate

Set a timer for 15 minutes. Have your team brainstorm as many short, two-to-five word phrases as they can think of that could be good candidates for the brand mantra. The group should keep the following principles in mind:

  1. These phrases should encapsulate multiple points of difference and points of parity if possible, focusing on key points of difference first.
  2. The best brand mantras don’t just capture the positioning, but also are inspirational. So try to come up with phrases that might also inspire both the internal organization and the brand community.
  3. Remember that you aren’t writing advertising copy, and you definitely aren’t writing taglines. Brand mantras are internal positioning statements that are used to capture the essence of the brand, not sloganeering (although, there are certain great brand mantras that can eventually translate externally).  Later today, we’ll explore in more detail the difference between a tagline and a brand mantra.

Step 3 Share and Discuss

Have the team share as many phrases as they can, and write them down in a place everyone can see. Write down every idea–no matter how dumb, funny, or outrageous–because sometimes crazy ideas lead to great ideas.

Even if suggested phrases are more than two to five words, write them down anyway—they could lead to something shorter and tighter. Remember not to allow people to judge, discuss, or debate ideas. The goal is to come up with as many ideas as possible.

Step 4 Vote

Take a vote to determine the group’s favorites. Tell people to only vote for mantras they think are desirable to your brand community, deliverable by the brand, and differentiated from your competitors.

Tomorrow on our way to the summit we’ll guide you through the ultimate test to see if your brand positioning passes the “desireable, deliverable, differentiated” test.  Take a break and catch your breath. Later today we’ll share more about brand mantras, plus some of our favorite examples.

Thank everyone for their ideas and contributions—and don’t forget to take pictures or good notes of all the ideas!

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