Mantra for within. Motto for without.


"Everyone in this place knows what we stand for." Really? Well, when I just spoke to them, they all summarised it differently. If you stand for different things to different people then that is the recipe for confusion.

"Branding" is the management of meaning - so how can we better ensure that everyone knows and can communicate, why we exist?

In this post we reveal a neat little solution.

Brand Mantra vs Brand Motto

Do you need a Mantra or a Motto? Some people make this an either or. My view is that both are helpful brand tools.

Both a "mantra" and a "motto" are a short, descriptive phrase about the brand. They should be no more than five words long. They represent a set of beliefs, ideals or an ethical stance that the brand takes. They both will explain "why".

Some examples of 'life' mottos or mantras: “A penny saved is a penny earned”, “No pain, no gain”, “The squeaky wheel gets the grease.”

But - whats the difference between a mantra and a motto? Here's my definitions:

  • Mantra - It represents the brand to the staff and suppliers of the brand.

  • Motto - It represents the brand to the outside world - to prospects and customers.

In other words a Mantra is for "within" and a Motto is for "without". These pithy sayings can become very powerful tools in a business. Two sides to a whole. Lets take a peek at them one at a time.


The power of Brand Mantras

A mantra should define everything a brand is and will ever be in one short, snappy and memorable line. It should do this from the perspective of the staff of the company.

It helps all employees and suppliers understand on what they need to focus on in order to deliver the brand experience effectively to the brands audience. They help to filter out non-essentail behaviours and keep everyone on track.

A mantra should be short (between 2–5 words) and encapsulate 3 key things:

  • An emotion - this will be born out of the 'why' of the brand story

  • A description - this will loosely define 'who' the brand serves

  • A function - the 'what' of the brand boiled down into one word

Typically they would not explain what the brand does in terms of product, sector or service. Your Mantra and Motto are bigger than that. This is not detail. This is the stuff of brand dreams and aspirations.