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November 8, 2023

The Marketing Toolbox: Guides to getting your brand basics right

In the dynamic world of marketing, having the right tools at your disposal is the key to unlocking success. Idea Engineers recommends three essential guides that should be a part of your marketing toolbox. These guides are designed to equip you with the knowledge required to navigate the ever-changing landscape of the industry.

  1. A Corporate Identity (CI) guide

  1. What’s in it: Design and branding rules, logos, patterns, colours etc.
  2. Who develops it: Creative agency
  3. Who uses it: All partners who will print/design/ produce branding. A CI document is shared with agencies who will create anything for trade (e.g., point of sale, promotions, and advertisements)
  4. Frequency of update: This document is developed once and stays the same for at least 10 years. It only changes when the brand needs a ‘refresh.’

  1. A Brand Fundamentals document – detailing key brand beliefs and target markets

  1. What’s in it: The strategy of your brand, including the positioning, the unique way the brand speaks, what the brand stands for and how it differs from competitors’. Target market insights are also included in here.
  2. Who develops it: Creative agency
  3. Who uses it: Primarily the Brand Manager and creative agency. The Brand Manager will use it as the North Star for the brand – so everyone on the team knows exactly what the brand is all about. Creative agencies use it as the starting point for producing creative ideas so that all work is ‘on brand’ or ‘on strat’.
  4. Frequency of update: Developed once and stays the same for at least 10 years. It only changes when the brand needs a ‘refresh’.

  1. A Communications plan/ brand plan

  1. What’s in it: The specific objectives and targets for the year, including the brand campaigns. It includes full campaign rollout details like timings, budgets, big idea, and examples of collateral.
  2. Who develops it: This is a collaboration! The Brand Manager briefs the creative agency on the objectives and budgets for the year. The creative agency comes up with the campaign ideas, messaging and look and feel. The Brand Manager gives feedback and once everyone is aligned, the communications plan is completed and signed off.
  3. Who uses it: The Brand Manager uses this document to share plans with internal stakeholders. The creative agency uses it to plan all the material needed for each campaign. Where there is more than one agency (e.g.: a creative agency, an activations agency, and a media agency), all agency partners add their plans to the document.
  4. Frequency of update: Developed annually. Creative agency briefing usually happens 3 to 4 months before the beginning of the new financial year.

Please note:

The best guides are short, sharp, and useful to the intended audience. They help teams stay focused and help brands stay on-point with who and what they are.

What information goes into the essential guide? Everything highlighted in GREEN below must be provided by the Brand Manager/ Marketing Manager or Brand Owner. The rest is developed by the creative agency

1: A Corporate Identity

Primary brand identity

Logo lock-up and usage

Do’s and don’ts

Colour palette


Photographic style

Product packaging range

Brand ID assets

Key visuals


Key visuals

Do’s and don’ts

Brand touch points: Application rules

ATL: TV and outdoor

Social Media and Digital

Trade and POS

Events and sponsorships

  1. A brand fundamentals deck


Brand story/history


Product ranges

Target consumer

Customer profiles

Insights and purchase barriers

Competitor landscape

Key competitor snapshot

Positioning map

Brand positioning

Positioning statement

Brand architecture

Brand values + beliefs

Brand pyramid

  1. A Communications plan / brand plan

*YEAR* objectives and brief

Brand objectives + KPIs

Marketing objectives + KPIs

Brief per product


Campaign strategy

Creative idea

Campaign messaging


Channel plan

Timing plans and milestones

Budget breakdown

Some additional guidance for Brand Manager/ Marketing manager or Brand Owner on how to build a marketing toolbox:

For the Brand Fundamentals Deck:

Brand story/history

Where did you start, why you exist, who owns the company, what makes it stand out?


Where do you want your brand to go and what do you want it to achieve?

Product ranges

All the products/services you sell, with pictures and pricing.

Customer profiles

Who is buying each of your products? Are they all in one location? Within the same income bracket? Do you have specific customers who buy specific products and not others?

Insights and purchase barriers

Do you know anything interesting about how or why your customers buy from you? Do they believe something about your product? Are you the best priced in the market? Or do people know about you but keep choosing to buy from competitors?

Key competitors

Which brands/companies are your competition? Consider both your direct (those selling the same products as yours) and indirect competitors (those selling different products to yours, but customers can use them as a substitute for yours)

Brand architecture

Do you have any kind of structure to your product line that the creative agency needs to know? For example: Do you have a core product which sells like hot cakes and then supplementary/accessory products which go with the core product but aren’t as popular? Or do you have a B2B range and a B2C range?

For the communication plan:

Brand objectives + KPIs

What do you need to achieve from a business perspective? This is usually a sales or volume target.

Which KPIs will you use to measure the success? This is usually a turnover amount or a growth percentage.

Marketing objectives + KPIs

What do you need to achieve from a marketing perspective? This is usually an ‘awareness’ (get more people to know about us) or ‘engagement’ (get more people to interact with us) objective.

Brief per product

Choosing which products to make a campaign for in the next 12 months. Usually campaigns last 4-8 weeks and focused on one specific product. You can also opt to do a brand campaign that talks about who you are as a company and your products as secondary.

Also include what you want the focus of each campaign to be: must it talk about value, price, or efficacy etc.? Then finally, what is your budget for each campaign, so you can implement affordable plans.

Whether you’re starting out or looking to refine your brand, these guides are your North Star in the vast sea of marketing, that will help you drive your brand towards its goals with unwavering clarity.

Ready to create your marketing toolbox? Contact Idea Engineers today for expert assistance. We’re here to help you chart your course to success.