Behind every great brand is a great branding guide.
When building a house, you don’t start by picking the exterior paint color; you start by designing and constructing the foundation. It’s what shapes the rest of the structure, distributes its weight, and supports its most defining features, from the chimney down to the front porch.
Building a brand is no different. The public-facing design and content may be the most captivating elements, but they’re bolstered by a solid, underlying plan—what we call the brand foundations.
Brand foundations are like your brand’s DNA or (for you technical types) its front-end code. They inform all communications, marketing strategies, and sales campaigns and determine how internal and external audiences think and feel about your brand.
Successful brand foundations do require some work up front. We’ll get to that in a moment. But aligning around standards like identity, voice, and values at the outset of a branding or rebranding effort—or during a period of high growth or change—ultimately means less red ink and backpedaling down the line.
When crafted in partnership with an agency like Block Club, brand foundations are also what allow strategists, copywriters, and designers to gain a full understanding of your organization and plug in as an effective extension of your team to generate valuable, on-brand content that converts.
All that said, let’s take a closer look at brand foundations: what they are, how they’re made, and when they’re put into action.
What’s in a brand foundations guide?
Brand foundations work independently from aspirational messaging like your company’s mission statement. They’re more about day-to-day messaging—the points your sales and marketing teams can mobilize on the ground as they engage with leads, customers, and recruits.
To meet those needs, a brand foundations guide should include a few essential elements:
- A positioning statement that situates your brand in the marketplace, defines its industry and audience, nails down its differentiators, and gives customers a reason to believe.
- A brand personality profile that brings your brand to life by humanizing its attributes, assigning it a brand archetype, and describing its voice in detail.
- A set of customer-ready key messages that bring these points together and articulate your brand’s fundamental vision, values, and culture.
Next, let’s examine the brand foundations process and learn how these different elements are selected and organized.
Preparing your brand foundations
The first step in assembling a brand foundations guide is—unsurprisingly—to take a deep dive into your brand to discover its core characteristics.
At Block Club, that means sitting down with your organizational leadership for a series of discovery sessions. We ask insightful, open-ended questions that help us learn about your company’s history, mission, and goals, discern how different team members think and talk about your brand, and tease out the nuances in your brand’s personality.
When interviewing the founder of an organization, for instance, this might involve questions like:
- Why did you decide to start your company? What needs are you meeting in the industry?
- How would you describe your organization to a professional contact? How would you describe what you do to contacts unfamiliar with your industry?
- How do your partners and investors talk about your organization?
- Who is your ideal customer? What sorts of problems do they encounter, and what motivates them to make a change?
- What makes you excited to show up to work every day?
From there, a (fabulous, talented) copywriter distills this information into a guide that breaks everything into discrete, digestible sections. This document typically undergoes a few rounds of editing with company stakeholders until everyone onboard is aligned.
Finally—once your brand foundations guide is polished and perfected—it’s time to put it to use.
Brand foundations in action
Like the foundations under a house, brand foundations aren’t meant to exist in a vacuum. They’re meant to be built upon.
Ideally, brand foundations should serve as a jumping-off point for dynamic marketing and sales campaigns that lead with the best of your brand.
Consider our work in B2B tech. In many cases, these companies have been up and running for a while and have a firm sense of who they are as a brand. Nonetheless, they need a cohesive branding guide that will keep their style consistent as they roll out new products, ramp up communications, and develop a powerful content library to grab audiences’ attention.
With our help, they forge confident, authentic brands that manifest their personality across all new content, including:
- Website landing pages to feature new products
- Inspiring blog posts, thought leadership pieces, and whitepapers that establish them as guiding authorities in their field
- Case studies that demonstrate the concrete results they’ve achieved for their customers
- Social media copy and email flows that nurture new leads and enhance brand awareness
Throughout, they’re able to maintain a distinctive, consistent brand voice—thanks to the strong brand foundations we put in place at the beginning of our partnership.
Much of the magic that keeps a brand relevant, memorable, and fresh in the public’s mind comes down to a clear and effective brand foundations guide at its roots.
Taking this step early in your branding and content journey ensures your team—and, ultimately, your audience—understands who you are, what you represent, and how you stand together as an organization, so you can chart a common path toward growth.
Want to learn more about brand foundations?
Download our guide on The Essential Elements of Branding, and dive into the finer details of brand foundations work—including positioning, personality, storytelling, and messaging.