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Breaking Down the Elements of a Solid Brand Foundation

A well-developed Brand Foundation is a framework to build your business around. With it your company has a defined direction, purpose and meaning on which to focus.

There are six essential elements of a solid Brand Foundation: Vision, Mission, Values, Principles and Core Messages. Each element is an equally important piece of a puzzle. Miss one and you have an obvious hole.

Brand Foundation Elements: Vision, Mission, Values and Principles

A solid Brand Foundation starts with a very simple, but powerful premise. Your Vision Statement.

  • The Vision Statement captures the single core idea that drives the business.
    • Your Vision Statement is the aspirational core of your brand. It is the reason you exist, defines the problem you are trying to solve and often alludes the customer/person you are trying to solve it for.
    • The vision provides focus to the organization and acts as a rudder to help keep you pointed toward your ultimate goal.

Once you have clearly defined your Vision and the reason you are in business, you can develop your Mission Statement.

  • The Mission Statement is what you, as a company, are doing to fulfill this Vision and make it a reality.
    • Your Mission Statement focuses on the operational aspects of how your company is delivering on the vision. It often informs much of your messaging and includes things such as:
      • What do we do – objectively
      • How do we do it – technically and operationally
      • Who do we do it for and how do we deliver benefits to them
      • How do we define success

Values and Principles

Now that you have the reason and direction for your business, it is important to set in place the key elements of your company culture that will give your organization meaning and purpose; Core Values and Operating Principles:

  • Core Values are the key aspects of the culture that matter most to your employees, bring them to work every day, motivate and keep them focused on a common set of goals and beliefs.
    • Core Values are the key drivers of your corporate culture. They are often a significant reason why employees want to work for your company and continue working for your company. Core Values are also closely related to customer interest and retention. Statistically, your core customers will share similar values in their organizations.
  • Operating Principles are the key aspects of the culture that matter most to your existing and prospective customers in addressing their needs
    • Operating Principles set the tone and direction of your Brand Promise. They set the internal expectations and behaviors for how employees will interact with customers. You should consider Operating Principles to be a significant part of your corporate culture as you grow. *

Core Messages: Brand Promise and Elevator Pitch

With the elements of the Brand Foundation in place, you are better able to develop your Brand Promise and Elevator Pitch. These will guide and inform how you articulate your core attributes and affect stakeholder perceptions.

  • The Brand Promise is the high-level guideline for developing messages that help you articulate, at the most basic level, the key benefits that you deliver to customers.
    • It sets the customers’ expectations as to what their experience will be when the interact with the company, it’s products and its employees/representatives. Your Brand Promise is an implicit guarantee that every touchpoint will deliver a consistent, fulfilling experience for all stakeholders.
    • The Brand Promise is the essence of what customers expect based on what you communicate, how you engage with them, your actions, activities and what other (third parties) say about you.
  • The Elevator Pitch is how you describe your company in 30 seconds or less. A well-crafted Elevator Pitch is one that anyone in the company can use to answer the question, “And what do you do?” in a way that makes them want to learn more.
    • Once you have a solid Elevator Pitch, you can create variations that specific employees can use when talking to potential customers, investors, and employees. It is a way to quickly give the listener context for subsequent conversations.

Is your business built around a solid brand foundation? Can everyone in your organization clearly articulate the elements and understand how each one relates to their role? If so, great, you are on your way to success. If not, it’s never too early or too late to build your brand foundation and define your company’s direction, purpose and meaning.

If you want to learn more about how a solid brand foundation can help your startup, or drive perceptions of your stakeholders, please send me an email – ahayden@andrewhayden.com – or check out the web site – andrewhayden.com – and let’s talk.

* A note on Operating Principles and Core Values – Working in combination, they form the basis for your corporate culture. Set properly, they can help the company more easily get through rough times, as well as keeping the organization focused.