November 9, 2023
By: Aakash Shewakaramani
“Think different.” Everyone with a stable internet connection and a bit of curiosity knows which brand this slogan belongs to. Apple’s iconic marketing line isn’t just a catchy phrase; it embodies the brand’s personality – innovative but simple – and is the result of Apple adhering to its brand pillars.
Brand pillars are foundations and values that apply to every aspect of your business. They are the reason why you don’t confuse Apple with Microsoft or Microsoft with Google. Developing brand pillars requires planning, work, and a concrete vision for your company’s image. This article can serve as a blueprint to help you get started!
Think of brand pillars as principles that can personify a brand (not literally!). These pillars of branding provide consistency to a company’s services, products, and communications. This is why you can almost predict your conversation with a Starbucks employee and what your coffee and cup will look like.
There are a total of five brand pillars that every company should utilize for their marketing strategies:
These brand pillars can help provide a foundation for marketing teams to create long and short-term strategies that can add value to their customers.
Brand values are one of the five pillars of branding. They are ideals your company stands for, which may attract people with similar beliefs. A value could be your stance on the environment, the internal company culture, or giving back to a community. If done correctly, they can create a specific and positive perception for your brand.
For example, one of Chipotle’s brand values is their commitment to ingredient transparency and sourcing ‘real’ produce. This may translate to a perception of healthier products, even though they’ve not used the word in their write-up.
The planning it takes to create brand pillars is worth the effort – these pillars serve as a blueprint for all your long-term branding decisions. But if you’re unsure about where to start from, worry not! We’ve created a guide with examples to help you make brand pillars in no time.
A brand’s purpose is the big ‘why’ you ask yourself before starting a small business and is the reason for your company’s existence. While it may seem the same as mission and vision statements, there are fundamental differences between the three. Learning how to distinguish between the three can help you create a purposeful brand.
Here’s what you should focus on when writing these three statements, with examples from Under Armour:
Having a brand purpose gives a human touch to your organization and can help set the tone for decisions about promotions, pricing, and new products.
Brand positioning is how you differentiate yourself from the competition. This can be through pricing, product innovation, additional features, or targeting a specific customer base. Setting a unique position for your brand can help you compete with existing players in the market.
There are three broad steps you can take to position your brand:
Carrying out the tasks in these steps is easier said than done. However, putting in the time will help your product stand out from competitors, even in saturated markets.
Brand personalities go beyond the run-of-the-mill social media post. As a brand, you must include your personality in everything you send out, including your offerings.
Harley-Davidson learned this the hard way when they decided to start a perfume line in 1994. Their masculine and rugged brand personality didn’t align with the new product. As such, the perfumes didn’t sell! Harley eventually stuck to its roots to become the iconic bike brand it is today.
Here’s what you can do to avoid alienating your customers:
Keep in touch with your community and their changing values to ensure your brand personality resonates with them.
There are more communication channels than ever due to the Internet. However, this doesn’t mean you should create promotion strategies on every platform – this is bound to backfire. You must learn about the channels your customers use the most and how they communicate.
Cross these items off your checklist before creating a promotion strategy:
Researching the above items should give you a clearer picture before creating a promotion strategy. Spotify is an apt example of this:
One of Spotify’s most ingenious strategies is the yearly Wrapped promotional event. 44% of its customers use the platform daily, and many have lauded Spotify’s algorithm for understanding their music taste. So, the brand took it to the next level by creating a shareable playlist that listeners look forward to every year.
The playlist allows customers to explore new and under-the-radar artists and listen to their favorite musicians, creating a healthy balance. It also generates awareness among music listeners on other platforms, as people can (and do) share screenshots on social media platforms. Sometimes, the solution is right at home.
Values are crucial brand pillars because they showcase your organization’s internal moral compass. These may be the causes that you support and the communities that you give back to.
They can help build empathy for your brand and attract new customers, employees, and peers that align with your beliefs.
Include the following when communicating your brand values:
The above qualities can serve as a framework for your brand values. It is most important to be authentic, as savvy readers can spot the difference between a value-driven brand and one that isn’t.
These businesses can serve as examples for any company looking to create brand pillars for the first time.
One of PlayStation’s most noticeable brand pillars is its purpose, which focuses on innovation.
Since the release of the PS1, the brand has consistently pushed the boundaries of the market with technologies like haptic sensors in controllers, disc-based consoles, and powerful portable devices.
The brand combines this with quality storytelling to adhere to its brand value of creating ‘incredible gaming experiences’.
The Whole Truth’s adherence to its purpose of creating healthy snacks is visible throughout their communication channels.
For example, their use of minimal and non-processed ingredients is mentioned on the front of their packaging. This also serves as an apt channel for promotion and has helped them carve out a position as a health enthusiast’s brand.
One of Pixar’s values is to tell unique and diverse stories, and it shows.
The company has appointed creators from various backgrounds and cultures and asked them to tell their stories. This has led to innovative films and the kind of representation that wasn’t present in cinema ten years ago.
Pixar’s intimate stories have also given them a unique position in the market, something competitors haven’t been able to replicate.
Getting your brand pillars right will take time, patience, and a lot of writing and rewriting. The following steps should give you the direction to make the process easier:
Like with any endeavor, the first version of your brand pillars may not be the best. However, you’ll have functioning and powerful pillars with every passing revision and a little help from colleagues and friends.
Creating your brand pillars is merely the first step. You must apply them to all your brand strategies to attract new and existing customers. You can use these pillars as a litmus test during every marketing brainstorming session.
They’ll allow you to generate quality ideas without straying from your brand’s voice. With increasing competition globally, consumers don’t just look at a product they can buy; they also want to invest in brands they believe in.