Startup Cheat Sheet #1: Brand Foundation

I keep running into companies--both startups and mature businesses--that exhibit a disappointing level of confusion about who they really are (or who they're trying to be). Whether it's engineers contemplating what product features to focus on next, or the marketing team arguing over what to say on social media and how precisely to say it, an ambiguous emotional fog often permeates the space where a clear structure ought to stand. This is bad. Very bad. It's one of those "ghost" problems that is easy to never bother addressing, but which eats away at the soul of your company over time and causes a myriad of seemingly unrelated, frustrating problems all over the organization. So solve it. It's easy.

There are some great books about this, of course, but the people who could most benefit from them often don't stop to take the time to actually read them.  As a result, I've decided to share a one-sheet "Brand Foundation" template that I've used at companies in the past. Once you fill it out, you'll have a simple document that distills many of the important elements necessary to defining and building your brand. It's short enough to be posted on cubicle and lunchroom walls and easily referred to by anyone seeking quick clarification.  Call me an enabler.

To be clear, I didn't invent this. This template is basically a distillation of the brand foundation described in "Brand: It Ain't the Logo" by Ted Matthews, which you won't read but you should. It's a great book. [Go to Amazon and buy it. Buy it now.] I've only made some very minor tweaks/edits to his foundational elements based my own experience. The genius is all his.

So here's the template. Download it. Fill it in. Use it. And let me know what you think.

[Note: Upon request, I later explained in more detail how to use the Brand Foundation Template. That explanation is here.]