How I found my career mantra

It was 2013 and I was traveling back from London for work. Like in most return flights, I was equally tired and inspired. This time I had attended a Facebook event for their PMD (Preferred Marketing Developers) Partners, representing Buzz and the tremendous effort we were doing at the time to exceed Facebook’s quality standards in the applications we were developing for our clients (yes, Facebook Apps were *the* thing back then!).

Thanks, London!

Una publicación compartida de Mar Barbera (@marbarbera) el

I was reading my i-D magazine on the plane and came across an interview with British fashion personality Lulu Kennedy in which she shared her grandma’s words of wisdom: “Tell the truth. Be brave. Look after your people.”


I loved it right away. Honesty and guts, and never forgetting that the wellbeing of the people around you will often depend on just that – your honesty and guts.

I wrote it on Notegraphy and would often come back to it when things got rough at work. At a time when I was still defining my leadership style, the motto resonated with me, and eventually I realized that it was indeed my career mantra.

Over the years I understood that, although at first glance it reads like a leadership motto, I was also applying it to brand strategy. After all, it covers many of the things consumers demand from a brand: honesty, audacity, novelty, loyalty.

Do I think everyone should have a career mantra? No. Do I think this one will be the one for me forever? Who knows. But it works now. It pushes me in a good direction, it inspires me and it reminds me of many moments when I made the right decision.

Missions, mantras, mottos, purposes

For a brand, a mantra is not a mission, but it can be a mission statement, a motto, a purpose. Sometimes it can be a slogan. It should be short and it should explain to stakeholders (internal and external) why the organization exists. Here are some of the mission statements and mottos of some of my favorite brands:

Belong anywhere.

– Airbnb. I loved their rebrand and I’ve truly experienced their motto each and every time I’ve used their service.

Do Great Work, Live Great Lives.

– Wolf & Wilhelmine. A brand purpose attracts talent that is looking for a better way to work and live.

To make a contribution to the world by making tools for the mind that advance humankind.

– Apple. But yes, “Think different” is much catchier.

The Hundreds is Huge.

– The Hundreds. I love this brand because they’re always thinking forward.

Do the right thing.

– Alphabet. Much had been said about Google’s “Don’t be evil” when the company decided to replace it when their restructuring was announced. I like claims and missions that have a positive tone, and in this case I think the change was not a bad idea, although the core is still the same.

To give people the power to share and make the world more open and connected.

– Facebook. They actually have both a mission statement and a motto, the latter being much more focused on internal culture: “Move fast with stable infra“.

Make Something You Love.

– Huge. Many agencies have nice mottos, this one is simple and shows Huge’s passion for digital.

To give everyone the power to create and share ideas and information instantly, without barriers.

– Twitter. Very similar to Facebook’s, but could it be any other way? It’s obvious they’re both trying to make the world a better place by solving the same problem, with slightly different approaches.

Make Amazing Shit.

– Laundry Service. Similar to Huge’s, but a little bit more daring.


Am I missing any other great motto? Please let me know over on Twitter!