A brand pyramid is used to answer fundamental questions about a brand. Building a brand pyramid is an important step new brands should take. It creates an understanding of the company’s core values and benefits and as a result, defines the brand idea.

The brand pyramid model was first introduced in the late 20th century. This representational framework is especially useful to new companies trying to enter the market for the first time. It’s because brand pyramids help determine the brand identity and market positioning.

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Why Does It Matter?

There’s a simple reason why it’s called a pyramid: it moves from base to top, starting from the most tangible aspects of the brand and ending with the brand’s essence. Building a brand pyramid for your company’s branding is vital to answer the questions a new brand encounters:

  • What’s the core idea of your brand?
  • What are the brand’s core values?
  • How should a customer feel when interacting with the brand products?
  • What’s your brand’s value proposition?
  • Which customer problems are you trying to solve?
  • What’s your brand’s vision?
  • What’s your brand’s emotional value?

Building a brand is much like building a pyramid. In both cases, the “builder” slowly and carefully approaches the top, which is the final destination. You can’t reach the brand essence without having a deep understanding of the brand; you can’t have an understanding unless you’ve already gone through the basic aspects of your business.

brand pyramid

A brand pyramid consists of five tiers, including:

  1. Features and attributes
  2. Functional benefits
  3. Emotional benefits
  4. Brand persona & core values
  5. Brand essence

The primary benefit of brand pyramids is that they give clarity to the very essence of the brand. Brand pyramids help businesses understand their goals and purposes better, and as a result, clarify the company’s brand strategy.

Many companies now turn to specialized branding agencies to help them with such important business tasks.

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How to Build a Brand Pyramid

A marketing team can’t determine its brand’s external appearance without profound internal research. The team should learn what the brand stands for, what is its target audience and how the brand wants to be viewed. That’s where the brand pyramid comes in. When building a brand pyramid, marketing teams need to start at the bottom of the pyramid and then move upward.

Features and Attributes

features and attributes

Features and attributes define what the product does and how does it do it. If your brand proposition involves innovation, your product should include the latest technologies or specs.

Features and attributes describe the purpose and the functionality of a product. Facebook offers a news feed. Messaging apps provide synchronized communication, certain emojis, video calls, and group chats.

Functional Benefits

functional benefits

Functional benefits are a little deeper aspect. It depends on what customer problem you’re trying to solve. Why should customers use your product? What’s the expected outcome?

Messaging apps solve the problem of instant communication; sportswear companies offer clothing that enables high performances during sports activities.

Emotional Benefits

emotional benefits

No matter what products your business is offering, there’s always an important question: how these products should make customers feel? The emotional benefits tier describes the emotional feedback from your customers after interacting with the brand. This includes not only the products, but the customer service, the company’s website, and every other point of contact that may reward you with customer loyalty.

The emotional bond between the brand and the customers is an essential part of the path to success. In many cases, it’s the associations to a certain brand that attracts the attention of potential customers, not the functional benefits.

Brand Persona & Core Values

brand persona and core values

A brand persona is the personification of a brand, presenting the brand in human characteristics. Many successful brands around the world use personification to reach out and communicate with the audience.

The brand persona reinforces product development and connects the brand with its customers. What are the most important values to this person? The core values of the persona are also the fundamental values of the brand.

Having a representative of your brand persona is a great way of creating brand awareness as it’s more relatable to a customer. That’s why almost every great brand has tried to express its core values through a person. It may be a fictional character – for Disney, it’s Mickey Mouse.

Mickey Mouse portrays every characteristic and every idea Disney wanted to express: dreams, happiness, fun. As a brand, Disney wanted to be perceived as entertaining and lovable, so Mickey proved to be the best brand personality.

Brand Essence

brand essence

At the top of the pyramid, there’s brand essence. Brand essence is considered the core component of brand positioning. It’s described as the most important characteristic of a brand, the one to create an emotional response in customers.

The ultimate goal of building a brand pyramid is to provide the brand essence. That’s something early-stage companies should keep an eye on because if your current strategy isn’t clarifying the brand values, you’ll need a new brand pyramid. Brand essence is the fundament of success; you know your customers feel the brand essence when you evoke positive emotions.

Brand essence isn’t necessarily something that’s repeatedly articulated. It’s something felt by the customers when interacting with a business. In other words, brand’s essence is the brand’s DNA. Let’s have a look at some of the most successful brands’ core characteristics:

  • Apple – Simple Elegance
  • Coca-Cola – Happiness
  • BMW – Driving Pleasure
  • Aston Martin – Reserved in the Road Trip
  • Volvo – Safety
  • Disney – Magical
  • Adidas – Relentless

Apple’s Brand Essence

Apple’s brand essence is Simple Elegance. The simplicity and elegance of Apple’s products are always felt by its consumers. The company promises to “think differently” to improve the lives of its customers by developing next-generation technology.

The reason why I chose to start with Apple is that the essence of Apple’s brand has had an amazing impact throughout the years. Apple focuses on three different goals: Simplicity, Difference, and Innovation. One of the main reasons Apple stands out in the ocean of device manufacturers is that the company stays true to its standards stated in the brand essence.

Apple has a strong focus on the latest and up-to-date technologies including artificial intelligence. But these innovations can sometimes be hard to understand; so, Apple is always trying to keep the perfect balance between progress and maintaining simplicity.

Manufacturing giant wants to make these technologies accessible and easy to use for everyone. Moreover, the company often takes unique approaches to create a different value. That includes not only the product design but also introducing an exclusive operating system (iOS) for iPhones. This is how Apple aims to realize three different brand ideas at the same time.

The Most Important Characteristics of Brand Essence

As you can observe above, different businesses have different essences of their brand. However, there are some parameters every strong brand essence statements share.

The brand essence is the soul of the brand. It can evoke strong emotions in customers. Without these emotions, the business or a brand feels empty, so it’s hard for a customer to relate to it.

A strong essence statement is unique. It allows a business to stand out in competition and successfully reach its target audience. It’s never about finding the statement that’s better than others. Instead, it’s all about finding the one that best suits your business and its purpose on the market.

The essence of the brand isn’t something you simply decide to have. You build it based on your understanding of the brand and the relationship with the customers.

The essence statement is constant. Unlike other brand symbols, such are names and logos, the essence of your brand can’t be changed anytime. It should be sustainable, making it possible for your brand to be distinguished from others even if you decide to change the logo or the name.

Based on the above discussions, it’s safe to say building a brand pyramid is essential to your business. Brand pyramid helps you understand your business better and allows you to define the essence of the brand. And building a brand essence is the key to success.