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How to build a powerful rallying cry

After your logo, your rallying cry is one of the most important assets your brand possesses. It is the distillation of all the things that make you unique and meaningful. As such, your rallying cry is the most potent verbal expression of your brand and your purpose.

Needless to say, It is imperative to get it right.

Your rallying cry must do more than tell us what you are (The Foremost Supplier In The Tri-Lake Area!) Or how you do it (Service Is Our Number One Priority!) In fact, it shouldn’t be about you at all. Rather, it should exist to inspire those you hope to serve — both inside and outside your organization.

There are two primary principles that guide the creation of a great rallying cry. We already introduced the first — it must have the ability to reach across all the groups of people you hope to engage. It must be meaningful and motivating to those inside your organization. Outside of your organization, it must be equally as meaningful and motivating to your customers, prospects, influencers, and all those that your brand touches.

The second principle is that your rallying cry must connect on multiple levels. From a rational standpoint, it must point to the things that make your brand and purpose unique. From an emotional standpoint, the same rallying cry must be exceptionally meaningful, inspiring those you hope to serve.

Draw two, equal-length lines that intersect in the middle. At the top of the vertical line, write “Inside”. At the bottom of the vertical line, write “Outside”. On the left side of the horizontal line, write “Rational”. On the right side of the horizontal line, write “Emotional”. You have just created the x and y axes of a four-quadrant chart. You can use this to plot your rallying cry candidates. For example, if your rallying cry is “The Foremost Supplier In The Tri-Lake Area”, you would plot it somewhere up in the upper left quadrant (Inside + Rational).

The ideal rallying cry would land dead in the middle. Read one way, it would be a team member motivator. Read another it would appeal to customers and prospects. Additionally, read one way it would communicate an appealing rational message. Read another, it would speak to the heart of all those you hope to serve.

Apple’s “Think Different” is a great example. It can be used to speak internally. “Think Different” charges all team members to break with convention and innovate. Outside the company, the line is an exhortation to customers and prospects for them to also break with convention and innovate in their work and personal lives.

Apple’s rallying cry also communicates on multiple levels. Rationally, it expresses the ability the technology gives you to explore and invent. Emotionally, it is a call to embrace your individualism — a powerful driver for us all.

A great rallying cry is asked to accomplish a lot. That is exactly what makes it great. It has reach and resonance that connects with people, speeds adoption, and even has the potential to turn all those you hope to serve into advocates and evangelists. It is no mere tagline. It is exceptional language that can become one of your organization’s greatest assets.

Dan is an expert brand strategist and author of the book Big Audacious Meaning — Unleashing Your Purpose-Driven Story. He is a founder at Will & Grail — a brand innovation company, helping organizations find their unique, undeniable and unshakable sense of purpose and create innovative experiences that bring it to life.

Originally published at https://www.dansalva.com on September 5, 2020.

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Dan is an expert brand strategist and author of the book Big Audacious Meaning — Unleashing Your Purpose-Driven Story. He is a founder at Will & Grail.

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