Jun 20, 2017

What’s Your Rallying Cry?

A rallying cry can be like a lightning rod for your team. It harnesses and focuses their energy, and guides them towards the things that really matter.

Rallying cries are often easy to spot. They masquerade as the slogan or tagline of a company:

  • Nike says, “Just do it.”
  • Apple wants to “Think Different.”
  • OnePlus is committed to “Never Settle.”

Each statement is proudly proclaimed in the organization’s branding and marketing campaigns, but its true value is felt internally. The slogan guides behaviors. It frames the brand, and clearly articulates what the company represents.

This is the power of a brand’s rallying cry. It guides an organization to greatness.

Here’s to the Crazy Ones

A rallying cry is more than a tagline. It has a deep meaning for the organization that transcends marketing and sales.

In 1997 Apple launched its slogan, “Think Different.” The slogan became a rallying cry for the brand, and it still guides the company twenty years later.

Think Different was launched with an ad called “Here’s to the Crazy Ones.” The narrator speaks over a series of photographs of time-honored visionaries — people like Albert Einstein, Martin Luther King, Jr., Thomas Edison, and Alfred Hitchcock. He says,

Here’s to the crazy ones.
The misfits. The rebels. The troublemakers. The round pegs in the square holes. The ones who see things differently.
They’re not fond of rules. And they have no respect for the status quo.
You can quote them, disagree with them, glorify or vilify them.
About the only thing you can’t do is ignore them. Because they change things. They push the human race forward.
While some may see them as the crazy ones, we see genius.
Because the people who are crazy enough to think they can change the world, are the ones who do.

The script is the perfect accompaniment to Apple’s rallying cry, because it articulates Apple’s vision and ethos.

Focus On What Matters: Never Settle

OnePlus is a challenger brand in the mobile phone market. It designs and manufactures low cost Android smartphones, what it calls “Flagship Killers.” The goal is to deliver an uncompromising smartphone at a reasonable price.

OnePlus’s vision is captured in its rallying cry, “Never Settle.”

When OnePlus launched in 2014, buying an Android smartphone felt like a game of chance. Carl Pei, cofounder of OnePlus, explains, “Many products look good on paper, but just don’t deliver a good day to day experience. Being such an intimate part of our lives, a smartphone shouldn’t just feel amazing the first week. It should keep bringing you joy a year on.”

Pei acknowledges that the smartphone market has evolved rapidly in the past three years. He says, “There are no bad smartphone products anymore, and it’s a great time to be a consumer.” But that doesn’t mean OnePlus should settle or give up.

Never Settle as a rallying cry empowers the brand, and it helps the team to define what’s next.

A rallying cry provides certainty in a rapidly changing market. A startup cannot compete and win by mimicking the giants of its industry. It has to take big risks, break rules, and find new ways to create success.

A rallying cry is more than clever marketing. It’s a matter of survival.

What’s Your Company’s Rallying Cry?

The most effective rallying cries capture the vision and ambitions of an organization. It’s a simple, pithy statement that’s packed with meaning.

But before you start working on the words, shift your focus internally. The first step in developing your rallying cry is to clearly understand and articulate your organization’s vision and ambitions:

  1. What does your organization believe?
  2. Why do you do what you do?
  3. What impact do you and your team want to achieve?
  4. How do you want your organization to behave?
  5. What will be your company’s legacy?

Developing a rallying cry is a process of exploration. As you explore your company’s vision and ambitions look for words and phrases that articulate those ideas.

It may take some digging, but you’ll know it when you see it. The phrase will vibrate. It will engage both your head and heart, and it may even make you feel uneasy. That feeling is ideal, because it demonstrates you are speaking to a truth about your company.

Share Your Rallying Cry

I’d love to hear from you. Send me a tweet or a note with your rallying cry. What phrase is guiding your team to greatness?

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