Brand pillars are a crucial part of digital marketing strategies today. They convey what your brand is, who it appeals to, and what makes it unique — all things you need to be hyper-clear on in order to create marketing campaigns that are cohesive and effectively promote your brand across audiences and channels. But beyond your unique selling proposition, or USP, your brand pillars are the touchpoints, values and characteristics that define your brand.
Five brand pillars contribute to your overall brand DNA, helping consumers feel connected to you. The five pillars are the following:
How can you use these pillars as part of your overall marketing strategy to convey a clear, cohesive and effective story about your brand? From social media to search engines results pages, each of the pillars plays an important role in every piece of content you produce or share. Let’s look at how you can first define, and then leverage them, to ensure that your digital marketing strategy remains true to your brand’s overall vision.
Purpose: Defining Your Brand’s “Why”
If you’re a founder, think back to your goal when you first launched your company. If you’re a CEO or CMO, think about what attracted you to this company — why you wanted to play a role in molding this brand.
The brand pillar of “purpose” relates directly to what drives your company. Why does it exist?
The Sill, the first indoor plant delivery service, has a very strong “why,” driven by the founder’s love for houseplants. The company’s “About Us” page notes that it is focused on “bringing life to people and people to life.” The “why” behind the company is to make people happy through plants.
Personality: Your Brand’s Voice and Tone
Some brands are snarky. Some are solemn. Some are sporty. This personality may be conveyed through the brand’s social media posts, its website content and blog posts, and even its employees, if the brand has interactions in person or on the phone.
It’s important that a brand’s personality remains consistent. It should be memorable and authentic. It should help consumers relate to the brand as, well, a person.
Some brands cultivate this pillar exceptionally well through social media. For instance, fast-food chain Wendy’s posts Twitter responses that are nearly legendary — and laugh-out-loud funny. When one Twitter user asked, “If I don’t have a @Wendy’s at my location, what do I do?!?!” the restaurant’s account replied succinctly: “Move.”
Your brand doesn’t have to rely on one-liners if that’s not authentic, though. Find the tone that works for you and hone it through every piece of content created.
Positioning: Your Core Differentiator
You may be wondering where your USP fits into the core brand pillars. Well, here it is. Your brand’s positioning represents what sets your company apart and why people would want to choose you over competitors.
Sneaker manufacturer K-Swiss had success positioning its brand as sneakers for people seeking “comfortable, casual shoes.” Rather than going after “sneakerheads,” or collectors and enthusiasts, in a recent campaign, the company created two lines based on classic movies (Ghostbusters and Clueless) and appealed to fans of ’80s and ’90s movies and nostalgia with great success.
In general, K-Swiss has shifted its brand positioning to appeal to everyday people to reach a broader market. It has homed in on the right positioning to scale its business.
Perception: How Consumers or the Market View Your Brand
The first three brand pillars all had something in common: The brands could control them through carefully targeted messaging, advertising, thought and actions. The fourth pillar, however, is a bit different. The first three pillars come together to help create the fourth pillar: Perception.
Perception is how people view your brand. If the public perception of your brand doesn’t meet the image you’ve tried to curate through your purpose, personality and positioning, you may need to revisit your sales and marketing messaging. Are you defining your pillars incorrectly? Or does the messaging not match the reality of your brand pillars? That’s an important question to consider. Your messaging needs to be in alignment with your brand pillars to build the perception that you want people to have of your brand.
You may also want to look at your sales and customer service departments to see how they are relating to customers. Are these employees speaking and acting in alignment with your brand’s purpose and personality? You may not have complete control over the brand pillar of perception, but it’s your job to steer and guide it so that people know what to expect when they interact and engage with your brand.
Promotion: How You Convey Your Brand Pillars and Encourage Sales
The fifth pillar, promotion, relates directly to how you share your products and services through sales and marketing channels. What is the experience that you are giving consumers as you guide them through the sales funnel?
Several factors will contribute to the promotion pillar, including your website navigation and user experience, how you manage shopping cart abandonment, and sales or deals you offer customers. Every element of your marketing strategy, from email campaigns to PPC ads, relates to the promotion pillar. It’s a crucial piece of your marketing strategy.
As you create promotions through various channels, always take into account the other four brand pillars to convey a consistent image so consumers will know what to expect, helping them to feel more connected to your brand.
You Don’t Have to Do It Alone
It’s helpful to think of the brand pillars as you create your digital marketing strategy — but it’s not always easy. Often, company founders, CEOs and CMOs are too close to a brand to truly gauge elements such as purpose and perception.
A marketing consultancy like Hawke Media can help you see things from a bird’s-eye view, so you can gain increased clarity and a better perspective on this foundational marketing activity.
Dawn Allcot is a full-time freelance writer and content marketing specialist who frequently covers marketing, e-commerce, finance, real estate, and technology. She is also the owner and founder of GeekTravelGuide.net, a travel and lifestyle website.
The Sill – About
BoredPanda.com – Wendy’s Is Roasting People on Twitter, And It’s Just Too Funny
HubSpot.com – The Beginner’s Guide to Brand Pillars