Case Study: Empowered Careers Brand Guidelines

Client: Empowered Careers (formerly Encore Career Institute), Los Gatos, CA

The Challenge:

Establish a clear strategic foundation to guide brand development for a rapidly growing tech startup focused on continuing education. Create focused tools to get a complex web of employees, partners, and stakeholders on the same page and unlock visual and content expression.

Steve Poizner, founder of Empowered Careers

Secret Sauce Contributions:

  • Explored and reconciled competing visions for the brand through a brand archetype study. Rallied team (including high-profile founder Steve Poizner) around the “Hero” archetype.
  • Evaluated and synthesized competitive landscape to inform brand position.
  • Created 40-page brand bible to articulate brand fundamentals and inspire cohesive expression. Contents included archetype summary, competitive analysis, high-impact quotes to capture consumer insights, brand values, mission/vision/position, and brand pyramid.
  • Developed brand personality guidelines, including voice & tone guidelines, brand vocabulary, and high-level messaging framework.

“Online learning is by nature solitary & lacking in personal support — these are big drawbacks to an otherwise very successful program.” Student quote selected for inclusion in brand bible

The Results:

  • Team began using “Hero” language to determine brand approach and evaluate brand identity concepts.
  • Copywriter tackled content creation for dozens of site pages with a clear creative starting point.

I especially find the “Who Are Our Bad Guys?” section to be very empowering. It inspires me to do my job and fight for what’s right in online education.” Empowered Careers copywriter


  • Hearing a brand’s story and vision directly from the founder is a consistently effective tool for bringing a brand into focus.
  • Taking the time to articulate high-level brand guidelines can go a long way toward minimizing creative churn, especially for a startup.

If your brand would benefit from some foundational documents to guide creative execution, please contact us.