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Manifesto for Brand Leadership

Updated: Apr 29, 2022

1. start things, Inspire People, move the world forward

Brands matter because they matter to people. When a brand connects emotionally to its audience by providing meaning and delivering unforgettable experiences, that's when alchemy happens. Brand love is created by having a purpose, establishing trust, and making people feel good and connected to something greater.

2. Cultivate a movement of Engaged fans

The brands that transcend the obvious, routine, and ordinary are the ones that build better brands because they have the foresight and empathy to see through the soul of their audiences and quickly innovate and deliver experiences, products, and services that make a difference and inspire loyalty. Customers are transactional, while fans connect to your values, self-identify and ultimately invest more while staying the distance throughout the lifecycle.


Bill Shankly was the manager of Liverpool Football Club in the 1960s and 1970s. He took the team from nowhere to become the most formidable force in Europe for many years. "Success is in the mind," he said, "you have to believe you are the best, then make sure that you are." He was deeply connected to Liverpool's fans, and he wanted to build a team that played football the way the fans wanted - exciting, stylish, and victorious. Shankly personally responded to every fan letter, and there were thousands of them every year, as Liverpool became one of the most famous and supported football teams ever. Shankly proactively and regularly phoned fans to ask for their critique to drive excellence in everything he and his team did, often acting on their advice. He was trying to see through their soul to synthesize their desires into his blueprint for what became a peerless fan-centric team that played the way the fans wanted while creating a winning culture that endured, which ultimately became the Liverpool brand. It wasn't just people from Liverpool; football fans from all over the world self-identified with their universal brand for how the beautiful game should be played.


The Motown sound was crafted with an ear toward pop appeal with distinctive melodies and call-and-response singing originating in gospel music. Motown remained faithful to the "KISS" (keep it simple, stupid) principle by avoiding complex arrangements and elaborate and evocative vocal riffs. It also used a factory production system, inspired by founder and owner Berry Gordy's stint at a Ford production plant. Gordy held quality control meetings every Friday morning and used veto power to ensure that only the very best material and performances were released. Developing artists was a significant part of Motown's operations. The acts on the Motown label were fastidiously groomed, dressed, and choreographed to give elegant live performances that created a brand identity and culture that epitomized the label.


The Beatles have had more number-one albums on the British charts and sold more singles in the UK than any other act. They've sold hundreds of millions of units, more than any other artist, and the group holds the record for the most No. 1 hits. Like most great artists, the Beatles were both traditionalists and revolutionaries. They started as imitators of American pop music. Still, once they found their own sound, they were unstoppable repeat innovators who broke the bonds of their era to define a new genre of music and fashion that influenced popular culture. Many artists have acknowledged their influence and enjoyed chart success with covers of their songs. The Beatles changed the way music got made, how people listened to and experienced it in their lives. After starting as a pop fad, Beatlemania grew into the embodiment of 1960s counterculture, a catalyst for bohemianism and activism that fueled movements such as women's liberation, gay liberation, and environmentalism.


Malcolm McLaren provoked a reaction in almost everything he did professionally. He envisioned and brought to the world the "Cult of the Amateur," famously known as punk-rock and personified by the Sex Pistols. Intentionally confrontational, he drew on the anarchic themes of 1970s Britain. McLaren was a situationist and believed that provocative actions were the best way to change minds. A master provocateur, this was a continuing theme that he applied through all of his business ventures across art, music, fashion, and especially how he took advantage of and promoted his assets to bring them to life by rejecting the banal for authentic creativity.


The Specials fashioned a mod-style Rude Boy look with pork pie hats, tonic and mohair suits, and loafers. Anti-racism was intrinsic to their manifesto, integrating black and white performers and drawing on musical influences and styles largely influenced by Afro-Caribbean ska. Their aesthetic and sound were political and captured the disaffection and anger felt by the UK's youth due to dire economic and political conditions in "Thatcherite" Britain. They acted as a signpost for change to address the urban decay, deindustrialization, unemployment, and violence in inner cities.


The Smiths were the outsider's outsiders, quintessentially northern English in their outlook and approach. Their songs frequently evoked the melancholic northern landscape and working classness of the two up-two down, humdrum, industry-town architecture. It's a bitter and grim up north mentality underpinned with unmatched intellectual wit and self-deprecating humor. They saw the unique beauty in the ugliness and poetry in industrial architecture and the smoking chimneys of red brick factories. The Smiths influenced people's perceptions. They encouraged a fashion movement that became a pop-cultural phenomenon and cultural caricature, dressed in quiffed hairstyles, outsized blouses, faded Levi 501s, courtroom shoes, hearing aids, national health glasses, and flowers out of the backs of trousers. They rejected the new romantic and synthesizer-based dance-pop for a modernized fusion of 1960s pop and post-punk as their own unique and distinct style. Johnny Marr's evocative and distinctive diversity of melody and mood were the unique union for this music born from the decaying industrial inner city. Morrissey had a knack to unlock the teenage psyche with his profound lyrical content and voice of reason that liberated the sexually and socially disconnected, ostracized youth. One of the many traits that distinguished The Smiths was they started off as self-styled pure originals, and their success was instant. Unlike their peers, they were good to go right out of the gate, with immense creative output and sustained influence upon music and pop culture.

3. Don't Let The Future Leave You behind

The Harvard Business Review published in July 2017, "Digital Transformation Is Racing Ahead and No Industry Is Immune." The article claimed, "Research shows that since 2000, 52% of companies in the Fortune 500 have either gone bankrupt, been acquired, or ceased to exist as a result of digital disruption. The collision of the physical and digital worlds has affected every dimension of society, commerce, enterprises, and individuals." While many factors have contributed to these organizations' rise and fall, no one is immune!.

Everything matters when managing brands, every product, service, event, asset, touchpoint, to the last detail. The days of having complete control of your brand are gone. The reality is it's owned by everyone, and you need to recognize the global diversity of the people you serve. The edges are no longer the boundaries - the digital revolution has no limit to your reach, or from your brand being hijacked, which is elating when it happens in the right way. Still, you need to be quick to react if it occurs in the wrong way.

Contact Unknown Origins to engage on defining your brand purpose to establish trust and create loyalty with your target audience, position your business and products by creating an identity that sets you apart from the competition.

Learn more about how to create without frontiers by unleashing the creative power within us.

Buy now: "Creativity Without Frontiers"

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Roy Sharples

Founder and CEO of Unknown Origins, a creative studio on a mission to save the world from unoriginality by unleashing the power of creativity. Author of "Creativity Without Frontiers: How to make the invisible visible by lighting the way into the future."

Photo credit: Brian Smale

Attitude. Imagination. Execution.

Unknown Origins. All rights reserved © copyright 2021

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