The Greatest Brand Document In History

With the shrill tone of election season ringing in our ears, and the dust of last week’s “Brexit” vote still setting around us, it’s clear there are no shortage of ways to divide people.

But as we approach the July 4th holiday, it seems fitting to take a moment to ruminate on what can hold us together…and the lessons for organizations and brands.

In this great country of ours, we disagree about all sorts of things: economics, taxation, personal freedoms and foreign policy. We even argue over the Constitution and the intent of our Founding Fathers.  

But there is one document that virtually every American will point to and say “we agree on that” – The Declaration of Independence.

Just one page and 1337 words long, this document laid down a purpose (separation), the reasons for it (a list of grievances against the King), and a set of common values that hold us together to this day: a belief that we are all created equal and endowed with unalienable rights, including life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.

Today, it is still considered a guiding philosophy of human rights worldwide and a moral standard to which many people and nations strive. The ideas contained within it have inspired generations of people, nurtured incredible loyalty, and powered centuries of accomplishment and progress. This document has carried us through two world wars, through unimaginable technical and social change, and through periods of dizzying economic boom and crushing economic bust for over 240 years.

It is the ultimate expression of the American “brand”.  And it shows the connective power of putting in writing a simple expression of what a group stands for.

"This was the object of the Declaration of Independence. Not to find out new principles, or new arguments, never before thought of, not merely to say things which had never been said before; but to place before mankind the common sense of the subject, in terms so plain and firm as to command their assent, and to justify ourselves in the independent stand we are compelled to take. Neither aiming at originality of principle or sentiment, nor yet copied from any particular and previous writing, it was intended to be an expression of the American mind, and to give to that expression the proper tone and spirit called for by the occasion." 

- Thomas Jefferson, May 8 1825

So…if you want your company to thrive, if you want your employees and customers to stay, if you want prospects to seek out your brand, if you want to keep it all together no matter what the market conditions...then put it in writing.

But don't stop there. Build your culture around that document too. Revere it.  And be sure to celebrate that document too, just like we do the Declaration of Independence every 4th of July.