Although marketing and branding practices have existed for centuries, industries began to change in the 1990s.
The digital age came and companies began to market their brands more than their products with the aim of giving their company a personality.
As a millennial, born in the early 90s, I grew up with the digital revolution. In fact, Millennials have a reputation for spending all day on their phones and being lazy.
However, I would argue that as the digital age and technology have advanced, so have society’s expectations of work. Companies and even employees are expected to be a brand that has value and makes a positive impact on society (rather than just selling products).
As a marketer or business owner, you might be asking yourself, “How can I create a brand that my audience will connect with?”
In this post, we’ll discuss how to create branding pillars that clearly convey your brand identity to your audience.
What are brand pillars?
Brand pillars are the values and characteristics that make up your brand. Your brand should be about how you get your message across to the world. Brand pillars help you with this by defining the fundamental points that differentiate your company from your competitors.
Brand pillars can be, for example, core values, important strengths or aspects of a brand that support the core idea “Who are you?” Or add a dimension to it.
Essentially, these brand pillars can be anything your customers consider important – maybe innovation, reliability, on-time delivery, etc.
Brand pillars should differentiate your brand and should be valued and supported by your customers. If someone asks why your customers like your brand, they can probably list your brand pillars if you communicate your brand clearly and well.
These pillars should be chosen strategically in order to offer better products or services to your customers.
I know that may sound a little conceptual. Brand pillars can be easier to understand if we break them down into categories.
Below, we’ll tell you more about the five branded pillar categories you can use to designate your own branded pillars.
What are the five pillars of the brand?
The most important pillars of the brand are purpose, perception, identity, values and brand experience.
Purpose can be described as the mission and foundation of your company. It answers questions like “Why did you start your business?” and “What do you hope to achieve?”
Think about it strategically. What do you want to convey to your audience as a goal? What would you like to tell employees or potential employees? Knowing your purpose can help you hire people who are aligned with your mission and properly target your audience.
Purpose can even be described as the culture of your company. At HubSpot, for example, our culture is about growth-minded people with a HEART (they are humble, empathetic, adaptable, remarkable and transparent). The acronym HEART is one of the pillars of our brand as a company.
Perception is about how your customers perceive your company / brand. You should either evaluate how current customers see your brand or, if you are a new business, write down some characteristics that you want customers to associate with your brand.
It can be something like hospitality or guidance. If these are your pillars of perception, you want customers to consider you a leader in your industry who is a trustworthy, good host (this makes sense for a hotel, for example).
This brand pillar is about who you are as a brand. A brand is something you are, it’s not something you have. It’s about your personality as a company.
For example, one pillar of the identity brand could be something like “bold” or “bold”. That means you want customers to see you as a naughty personality. The reason for defining this brand pillar is because you have a mission statement for how you are human and how you interact with your customers.
Your values are about conveying your overall position to your audience. What is important to you as a company? How are you going to make a difference? This could be something like an appreciation of integrity and personal responsibility.
5. Brand Experience
After all, the brand experience is a pillar that helps you promote your products and services. People use products and services when they like a brand. With so many options to choose from these days, customers will choose to buy from companies that they like. This means that you need to create a positive customer experience and association with your overall brand.
On the basis of these brand pillars, you can create a brand identity that sets you apart from your competition. Companies that fail have most likely not considered what their brand pillars are and how to align.
If you have a solid strategy but no purpose or identity, people won’t feel compelled to buy from you. On the other hand, if you promise that you value the user experience but the perception is wrong, then you will not succeed either.
In the next section, we’ll look at how you can use these categories to define your brand pillars.
This is how you determine your brand pillars
In order to determine your brand pillars, you should ask yourself a series of questions in order to find the most important characteristics that you want to convey to your audience.
- Why did you start / founded your company?
- What do you want to achieve?
- How would you like to serve your customers?
- What value do you offer customers who support your mission and vision?
Your purpose should serve as a magnet for employees and customers who share similar values. It also provides a hook to tell your company’s story and stand out from your competition.
- What role do you play in the minds of your customers?
- How do you rate your worth?
That pillar could be something like education. Maybe people see you as a place to learn about your industry. This is entirely owned by your audience and how they interpret your brand through messaging, reputation, and management.
- What is your culture like?
- What’s your point of view?
- What kind of voice do you use in communication?
- What are your beliefs and behaviors that define your brand?
Defining your voice and brand is about strategizing how you want to target your audience across multiple platforms. The brand personality signals what employees might be like, how they behave, who your customers are, etc.
- What is important to you when interacting with your audience?
- What do you value above all else above your own financial interests?
Here, too, this pillar helps to define what is important to you as a company.
- How do customers interact with you at each touchpoint?
- What experiences should the customers have?
- What makes your customer experience better than that of your competitors?
This pillar will determine a large part of your perceived personality and reputation.
When creating your brand pillars, think about what your customers will get from you. Do you get comfort, higher quality, time savings, etc.?
To determine your brand pillars, think about your branding strategy and think of things that clearly define your personality, voice, customer experience, purpose, and perception of your brand.
Examples of branded pillars
1. The pillars of the Hilton brand
The Hilton branded pillars are very clearly indicated on the website. You value hospitality, integrity, leadership, teamwork, personal responsibility and now (sense of urgency).
These are given as their values, but they are really pillars of the brand that show how the company wants to be perceived, what its identity is, what the customer experience is like and what it values.
2. The pillars of the Patagonia brand
Patagonia is a brand with personality and purpose. Their mission is to inspire and implement solutions to the environmental crisis (this is their purpose). In addition, Patagonia offers a minimalist style, emphasizing simplicity and usefulness (that’s their personality and values).
3. Nike branded pillars
Nike has been consistent in its brand pillars since it was founded. It’s about competition and going beyond your own limits. All of the company’s advertising, messaging, and investment decisions support that personality and value.
Brand pillars are a great way to define your business and differentiate it from the competition. It’s no longer just about making products – it’s about having a voice and point of view that adds value to its customers.