• Monday, June 24, 2024
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BusinessDay

Brand pillars: What they are and why they matter

The power of a thoughtfully designed personal brand

Brand pillars are the foundation on which your brand is built. They are a combination of personality and values that define and differentiate your brand from competitors. There are five core brand pillars: purpose, position, personality, perception, and promotion.

1. Purpose

The purpose pillar takes your strategy right back to your brand’s core. Think of the mission and the vision that brought the company into being. Why does your brand exist? Why do you get up every day to put in the work? Include what motivates you and how you use that motivation in the service of your customers.

Your company’s purpose is vital because it helps define company culture, attract employees who align with your mission and find the right target audience that connects with your values. Purpose can be shared in several ways.

2. Positioning

Positioning is how you differentiate from competitors and where your brand stands.
When brainstorming positioning, identify your target audience and how your ideal audience differs from your current audience and competitors. If you have multiple sub-brands, consider how each is positioned in the marketplace.

Your brand resides in a very distinct place in the minds of those who experience it, including your customers, investors, and employees. Positioning helps you describe your unique value proposition in a way that gets people to always choose you.

Is your brand a leading expert in your industry? Is your product the best in your field?

For example, Nike is an industry leader in the sportswear industry. The brand is seen as a fitness, sports and athletics authority. This positioning didn’t happen by chance. Nike crafted stories to create this perspective in the minds of consumers.

When crafting your positioning, you must understand where your brand currently stands and how your brand must grow or evolve to reach your desired positioning.

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3. Personality

The personality or identity pillar refers to your brand’s human characteristics, behaviours, emotions, and intellectual features. You must define what qualities make your brand unique and identifiable to your customers.

That can cover everything in your visual identity – business name, company logo, aesthetics, fonts, colour palette and more- to the more nuanced brand persona, including your tone, voice or archetype.

It is essential to understand that the personality pillar is your brand’s first impression. Will your brand’s personality help create an immediate connection and familiarity with customers and prospects? Is your brand’s personality memorable and relatable? Can people recognise your brand colours, tone of voice and anything else your brand publishes before they see your brand name?

Establishing a brand personality earlier is vital because it can be your foundation for a strong and recognisable brand persona. Most importantly, brand personality is essential because people are emotional buyers and they like building connections with brands.

And because people build emotional connections with people, not products, brand personality helps to humanise your brand. Infact, Personality makes your product more than just an item on a shelf.

4. Perception

Jeff Bezos once famously quipped, “Your brand is what other people say about you when you’re not in the room.” That’s how brand perception works.

Most companies start by defining the characteristics they want to associate themselves (internal). Perception can be shaped through strategic and thoughtful branding and imagery, tone, advertising and reputation management. But perception ultimately boils down to your target audience’s interpretation of your company (external).

Knowing what audiences think of you through feedback, customer reviews, and social listening are essential insights in helping identify your weak spots, improve on them, and respond to customer needs.

But remember that your employees are part of your audience. Aligning your internal and external communications supports your company’s integrity and brand perception. Put differently: how would a company communicate its values to customers and prospects when its employees fail to embody those values?

For example, if your company promotes an enjoyable work environment, you will attract employees who are loyal and happy to be working for you. And because they are happy in what they do, they will also bring a positive experience and perception to the customers with whom they interact.

5. Promotion

The promotion pillar focuses on the customer’s journey and examines all the ways and tactics you introduce, entice, engage, and motivate customers to connect with your brand.
More importantly, promotion helps customers and prospects choose your brand over competitors.

Your communication channels, the customer experiences you provide (online and offline), the touchpoints in the customer journey, and your brand’s visibility are essential to consider in your brand promotion pillar.

The promotion pillar is not only about the where, when, and why. It’s also about how often your target audience sees your brand. After all, a strong brand promotion strategy should be able to place your brand in the right place, at the right time, and in the proper context for your customers and prospects.

Don’t confuse promotion with a sales promotion (which uses discounts and giveaways to sell more products). Brand promotion is more about the brand’s long-term goal, not a quick sale.

Last line

Brand pillars are the heart and soul of any business. Brand pillars are not built in a day. It takes careful thought, introspection, research, and strategic planning. Coming up with a great product or service can only take you so far. Ultimately, your brand’s message, integrity, personality, and narrative will determine whether you can build a successful and sustainable business.