Brand Pillars, What They Are, Why They Matter and How to Find Yours

Whether in the eCommerce space or otherwise, establishing a business is a multifaceted endeavour that requires several different brand pillars to be successful. 

Five, to be exact.

It’s crucial to have an intrinsic eagerness, drive and hunger to push your brand forward. 

However, it’s also necessary to consider several different angles, establish legitimate logistical systems and develop an individualized marketing strategy to situate your business in the most advantageous position possible.

So, what are ‘brand pillars,’ you may ask? 

Essentially, brand pillars are the core values and characteristics that comprise your brand that you want to communicate to your customers, clients and the rest of the world.

Brand pillars help drive this key messaging by honing in on the rudimentary traits that distinguish your brand from competitors.

Understanding and establishing these foundational points can be a lot to take in and may even seem daunting, but you don’t have to do it alone!

With this in mind, today, we’re breaking down the five core brand pillars every business should have to serve as the foundation for your brand, and how working with a specialized agency can serve as a crucial tool to create, develop and execute them.

This article will explore:

What are the Five Brand Pillars?

As we briefly outlined above, brand pillars communicate your business’s identity, core values, beliefs and messaging. 

These fundamental building blocks establish and influence how your brand is seen not just by your audience but also the broader industry you’re in, potential investors, and, of course, your competitors.

The purpose of brand pillars is to differentiate your brand and set it apart from the other retailers existing within the same space. They are a crucial and invaluable element for any business that should be well-thought-out while also remaining relatable to your customers.

The benchmark of effective brand pillars is when your customers can easily and reliably recite those related to your business with ease. This understanding is a clear indicator that you have established clear and comprehensive brand messaging.

As such, there is a lot more strategy that goes into generating unique brand pillars that are authentic to your audience and business than one might initially think.

In other words, it may seem straightforward to communicate what your brand pillars are in theory. However, the execution of them on a public scale requires much more consideration.

It’s much easier to understand when you examine brand pillars as individual elements of a greater whole. 

Below, we’ll outline the key characteristics of the five brand pillars to give you a clearer idea of how to determine your own.

Purpose

The purpose pillar is relatively self-explanatory. It encompasses your business’s distinct objective for existing and its intended purpose. 

Essentially, it serves to answer fundamental questions like, “Why did you start your business?” and “What are you looking to accomplish?

That said, communicating this sentiment can be tricky. First, of course, you don’t want to go out there and simply say, “I want to make money.”

Even if revenue generation is the primary objective, you need to strategically plan how you want to communicate the intent behind your business to your audience.

On a broader scale, this consideration also applies to internal operations, as well, regarding potential or already existing employees within your company. 

Having a firm understanding of how you’d like to communicate your brand’s purpose will help you hire people who share and operate according to your values while actively understanding the target audience you wish to reach.

Purpose also serves an internal role in communicating your company’s unique culture for employees, establishing a safe space for like-minded individuals to feel supported, collaborate and grow within your business.

Perception

Perception refers to how your customers view your brand. In this regard, it seeks to answer questions such as, “How would your customers describe your brand?” “What does your audience perceive your value?” and “What is the role of your brand in the eyes of your customers or audience?

Essentially, perception is a pillar that has everything to do with your audience. 

Consumers (potential or existing) won’t necessarily receive this information solely based on the information or key messaging that you intentionally put out.

Put another way, these impressions could come from anywhere, such as word of mouth, online forums or reviews, first-hand experiences or advertising. 

There is no comprehensive tool to control how your small business is perceived entirely. It can also get complicated and foggy because we are all guilty of projecting what we think or want our audience to perceive and taking that as fact.

If you’re already an established business, the best approach is to evaluate how current customers view your brand on a regular basis. 

Alternatively, if your company is just starting out, a helpful process would be to establish the traits you’d like customers to associate with your brand. However, be careful not to fall into the trap we outlined above!

Positioning

Positioning describes how you orient your brand to answer a wide range of questions, including but not limited to: “What does your company have to offer?” “Who are you attempting to appeal to and why?” “What industry or category is your brand competing in?” “Why should customers opt for your brand over a competitor?” and more.

Basically, the positioning pillar is meant to establish what separates your brand from your competitors and how your brand is perceived by the public, which we touched on above. In this way, positioning encompasses several different things.

However, the ultimate objective surrounding positioning is creating a unique image that will resonate with customers and ultimately mould their perception of your brand. 

That said, it’s crucial not to bite off more than you can chew.  A common mistake many first-time business owners make is tackling too much or attempting to answer all of these questions at once. 

Positioning is just as much about setting your business up to grow while also understanding your own limits.

It’s paramount to toe the line between ambition and staying realistic. You need to be pragmatic about what your brand offers your audience right now versus what it’s working to provide them in the future once certain benchmarks are met simultaneously.

Personality

brand pillars personality

This brand pillar is an opportunity to communicate your brand personality. In other words, it aims to answer the question, “Who are you as a brand?

Generating a distinctive brand personality is essential in separating your brand as an individual rather than part of a collective industry. It’s also an opportunity to establish your company as a thought leader, reliable resource and provide insights into why your brand is superior to your competitors.

A brand personality can encompass many different characteristics. Namely, it ties very closely into perception. For instance, do you want your customers to see you as “playful” and “bold” or “mellow” and”laid back”?

Establishing these personalities early on can help drive the direction in which you establish relationships and interact with your customers. It also ties into establishing your brand’s tone on other mediums, such as social media campaigns and how you communicate your key messaging.

Once you determine your brand’s particular personality, you can continue to develop its unique voice and tone.

Proposition

Of course, the foundation of business and any broader industry is built on the concept of healthy competition. However, the notion surrounding the proposition brand pillar is a brand’s opportunity to address the question, “What does your brand do that your competitors don’t?

In other words, it’s the ideal scenario for describing your unique selling proposition to your audience. A unique selling proposition, also known as a USP, is your company’s “x-factor” that makes your business stand out from the competition.

As is a common theme that arises among all the brand pillars, creating a deliberate unique selling proposition helps to influence a myriad of other elements in your brand, extending from business operations to the product or service itself and even your marketing strategy.

A proposition should be clear and easy for your audience to understand across all your different marketing materials, including copywriting, landing pages, product descriptions and more, while communicating your brand’s strengths and distinguishing itself from similar brands existing within your industry.

In many instances, companies will utilize these branding services through an agency to help them facilitate the development and execution of such a strategy, 

Why are Brand Pillars Important?

Communicating purpose, understanding perception, strategizing position, establishing personality and developing proposition are crucial elements in shaping an overall impression of your brand, both internally and externally.

From an internal standpoint, establishing these various strategies is a pivotal part of understanding your own branding and the direction you’d like to take your company. 

Brand pillars also serve as opportunities to communicate the company’s values, messaging, and intentions to employees across all departments to ensure a cohesive front for communicating these various elements.

As we said before, having a concrete understanding of how you’d like to communicate these brand pillars will help you hire individuals that share and operate according to these values while receiving relevant knowledge surrounding the target audience you wish to reach.

On the other hand, from an external standpoint, all of these brand pillars combine to create a singular brand image crucial for determining the key messaging for your brand and establishing transparent and authentic communication with your customers.

These strategies are paramount in establishing brand trust and developing genuine connectivity with your audience.

Brand trust encompasses several different traits, including quality, positive reputation, fair business practices, overall engagement and your brand’s unique story.

Building a brand that customers trust requires business owners to become a brand deserving of that trust, and creating distinct strategies for these various brand pillars is the place to start.

For more information regarding brand trust and how to establish it effectively, check out our comprehensive guide, The Value of Building Sustainable Brand Trust and How to do it​.”

How to Define Your Brand Pillars

Now that we’ve established what the 5 brand pillars are, we can expand on best positioning them for your unique business. With this in mind, it’s important to consider that every business is individual, with its own sets of strengths, weaknesses and obstacles pertaining to its particular industry.

However, some general rules of thumb apply to help set businesses on the right track, which we will outline below.

How to Define Purpose

Defining purpose is to explain your business’s raison d’être. 

Essentially, it seeks to define why your company exists in the first place and what it aims to achieve.

The key to establishing this is to accurately and simply convey why your business was founded as a means of explaining both why your employees should want to come to work every day and why your customers should want to return for repeat business.

To discover more about the vital nature of establishing a brand philosophy that aligns with company culture, check out “10 Brand Philosophy Examples to Align Your Company Culture.”

Purpose serves as the unofficial ambassador to attract particular people, both staff and your audience, and drive them to contribute to your objectives. In this way, every decision should be made with your core purpose in mind.

In plain terms, all of your branding strategies should be rooted and built around your purpose.

Regarding internal operations, how your purpose impacts and shapes your company culture is one of the most crucial elements of an overall brand philosophy that seeps into every aspect of your business, from branding to product design and marketing.

How to Define Perception

How your company is perceived ultimately relates to how you make your audience think and feel through direct interactions. 

Suppose there are any potential concerns or inconveniences. In that case, having these direct interactions with your audience to help reach a rectified solution can be crucial in impacting how your customers see you, generating positive experiences that they are likely to share with others.

There is a direct correlation between perception and purchase intent. Your marketing, design, and customer service strategies will impact your brand’s perception.

Additionally, perception is something that can flip on its head with no forewarning. It’s crucial to remain on top of your market research and dedicate resources to investigating how your company is perceived by customers online and internally by staff through initiatives such as employee surveys.

While it may not seem as though these two factors are directly related, your employees represent your brand. 

Therefore, if they are unhappy or dissatisfied, these sentiments could seep into and affect their interactions with your customers, directly impacting your employee and customer retention rates.

How to Define Positoning

To create a successful positioning for your brand, you need to consider multiple components to help develop a comprehensive understanding of your audience and their needs or concerns to position your business and product as a viable solution. 

A practical first step for gathering this information is to build a buyer persona. 

A buyer persona comprises a research-based approach to develop a theoretical image of your ideal target audience, key demographics, and any particular pain points your brand aims to address by positioning your products as a solution.

This proactive action will allow you to develop a more authentic relationship with your audience.

For new businesses, positioning is also the ideal opportunity to perform a SWOT analysis, an evaluation based on determining your specific company’s strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats.

These analyses are most commonly used to provide a general understanding of the pros and cons of a business.

They also help highlight how well its current strategies align with its purpose and determine weaknesses in competitors that they can use as an opportunity to grow their influence and client pool.

However, as we said before, surrounding positioning, it’s crucial to know your limits and not take on more than your business can handle at once.

In essence, you want to develop a sustainable competitive advantage in consumers’ minds while understanding and maintaining your business’s distinct parameters or limitations. All while communicating your specific value proposition.

A value proposition encompasses your brand’s overall value to clients and customers after they made a purchase. This value is ultimately what makes your product appealing to potential customers.

To learn more about how to develop a well-established, well-thought-out value proposition, read What is a Value Proposition and How to Identify Yours (With 5 Examples).”

How to Define Personality

Defining brand personality is arguably one of the more fun brand pillars to work on. That said, it can also be one of the most difficult.

Your brand’s personality seeps into every communication, marketing consideration, social media post and internal and external communication delivered by your company. 

In essence, it quite literally sets the tone for your entire brand strategy.

These characteristics bring a brand to life and set your company apart from all of the others occupying the same space or industry. 

Brand personality is an invaluable tool concerning provoking emotion and engagement from your audience to help influence how they feel about your brand. 

With this in mind, developing a consistent brand personality that utilizes and upholds your brand philosophy is one of the best ways your company can relate to its target audience while aligning with their specific views and morals.

To learn more about brand personalities and why they are so incredibly important, visit our dedicated article, “Brand Personality – Why Personality Matters in Business

Additionally, if you’re looking for some inspiration for how to develop your unique brand personality, be sure to check out our guide, “12 Brand Personality Examples to Remember and Inspire.”

How to Define Proposition

As we outlined above, your company’s proposition should be transparent and easy for your audience to understand across all your different marketing materials. 

It should also communicate your brand’s strengths and clearly convey the traits that set your company apart from your competitors.

A strong and effective unique selling proposition will play to your business’s strengths, convey its brand personality, and accurately communicate its inherent ambitions and values. That said, it’s easy to get caught up in the glory of it all and forget your audience when creating it.

In this sense, your unique selling proposition must be compelling while considering what your audience specifically cares about and finds important and pivot your strategies to encompass how your brand can fulfill these needs.

For more information regarding how to build a unique selling proposition, you can learn more in What is a Unique Selling Proposition & How can it Benefit Your Business?”

Key Takeaways

Brand pillars ultimately comprise everything that makes your business, your business. However, it can be a lot of information to tackle – how do you even know where to start?

Developing brand pillars doesn’t have to be daunting. You just need the right branding services at your disposal to take things to the next level and promote the strongest likelihood of prolonged and sustainable success!

At Advesa Digital, collaborating with our clients to develop comprehensive digital marketing and branding strategies is our bread and butter. We work alongside you and your business to establish a unique approach to your online presence encompassing everything from design, social media, content and more.

If you’re interested in learning more, contact us today to get started!

Vincent Lee

Written By Vincent Lee

The Managing Editor at Advesa, Vincent is a mechanical keyboard enthusiast, a lover of cats, and a purveyor of fine roasted matcha teas. When not writing, he enjoys exercising and biking around his beautiful hometown of Vancouver. He is also a strong supporter of the oxford comma.