Making Sense of Marketing
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Why is a brand pyramid important for marketing?
Getting started with your brand pyramid
The brand pyramid has been around seemingly forever. It’s one of the basic models businesses use when starting out and creating a brand. I’m not a brand strategist, brand planner nor a brand designer (I can recommend some great people if that’s what you’re looking for), but I do believe in starting any marketing plan with the basics in place.
A brand pyramid is where I encourage all my clients to start when they ask for my help with marketing. So many small business owners are keen to jump straight in with social media posts or finding the perfect colour scheme for an Instagram page. We’re all motivated to create a shiny new logo and maybe a fabulous new website but, when it comes to creating content, we can find ourselves staring at a blank piece of paper, unsure where to start.
That’s where the brand pyramid comes in. Once you have taken the time to articulate what your brand is all about, it should become clear what you need to communicate to customers in your marketing. Your website, blogs, social media, images, captions, advertising, marketing literature etc should all do the job of communicating the elements of your brand pyramid.
“I’d like to make a brand pyramid for my business, where do I begin?”
1. Features. Start at the bottom of the triangle and work your way up. Think about the features of your small business. What do you sell? What are the facts?
- I’m going to use a fictional flower farm as my example for this blog: “I sell varieties of old English flowers which I grow myself from bulbs, seeds and seedlings. My flowers are grown outdoors in the countryside here in the UK. I offer free local delivery and monthly bouquet subscriptions. My average price point is £20-50 per bouquet.”
2. Benefits. Consider why people would want to buy from you. The ‘benefits’ section is generally split into two: rational benefits and emotional benefits.
- Staying with my pretend flower farm, one of the benefits of buying locally grown flowers is the smell. Factory-farmed flowers flown in from overseas just don’t compare. The rational benefit is likely to be something about great smelling flowers to freshen a home. The corresponding emotional benefit could be that buying superior quality flowers will give the customer a feeling of luxury, perhaps linked to self-care or a weekly treat.
- Two more rational benefits of buying local produce include supporting local business owners and protecting the environment by purchasing products with a low carbon footprint. The emotional benefit here could be along the lines of giving the customer a feeling of being virtuous.
3. Values. Moving up the triangle, we come to values. Looking at your Features and Benefits sections, you may get a feel for what your values are. What’s important to you? What will always be part of how you do things?
- In my flower farm scenario, one of the values would certainly be growing produce locally in the English countryside. The small business owner in this instance would never consider outsourcing production overseas.
- Another value might be the artisan nature of the product. Flowers grown at this farm will always be hand-selected, bouquets will always be hand-tied and personally delivered. This business may be committed to never posting flowers, nor mass-producing bouquets.
- Finally, values around the ‘English country garden’ might be something that’s important to this business. Perhaps the flower farm has a core value around restoring a love for old-fashioned English flowers in the modern home.
4. Personality. When considering your brand’s personality, depending on your small business, this is where visualising your content on an imaginary Instagram post, Facebook live, or Pinterest page might help you. If your brand was a person, how would that person behave? What would they say and how would they say it? What characteristics would they display? What would people think of him or her? How would that person be described?
Ultimately your written content and images are going to bring this personality to life. This section of the brand pyramid should inform the look and feel in everything you do, every leaflet you design, email you send, photo you post, every hashtag campaign you create. It may be helpful to make a mood board to help craft the perfect personality for your brand.
- Writing this blog, I imagine my flower farm owner to be natural, rural without being rustic, outdoorsy, intelligent, inspirational, detail oriented, visually driven, arty. He or she would be a traditionalist, classic, not quirky nor edgy. Pictures hanging in his or her home would be individual, the decor would be modern. Photography, films and listening to music spanning several eras would be considered favourite hobbies. He or she shops at farm shops and farmer’s markets, cooking modern dishes from scratch. The content of what this person says would be informative and inspiring. The language used would be down to earth but articulate, well-educated. People would describe this person as ‘real’, passionate, friendly, interesting, well-travelled.
5. Brand essence. At the very top of your pyramid, sits your brand essence. This is the heart and soul of your brand, bringing everything together in a short one-liner that captures what’s at the core of your business.
Arguably this is the hardest section for small business owners to complete. Think about your brand essence as encapsulating what your company stands for, what’s important to you, the benefits of working with you, how you’re distinctive and different to similar businesses. It might help to Google ‘example brand essences’ to see what some of the big brands have chosen. Some well-known examples I often refer to include:
Apple – Think different
Disney – Magical
Coca-Cola – Happiness
Airbnb – Belong anywhere
Over to you…
So now it’s over to you. Hopefully I have inspired you to create a brand pyramid for your own small business.
If you’re interested in learning more, there’s a whole load of ‘marketing science’ around brand pyramids out there on the web. You can also find a gazillion different iterations of what the pyramid could look like, with various options for headings. You might even prefer to create your own brand pyramid with sections that work for you. If you get it right from the outset, your brand pyramid will become something you find yourself referring back to in years to come, using it to inform business decisions along the way.
Get started with your own brand pyramid by heading over to my downloads page: www.sarahhowitt.com/downloads.
Why are your vision and mission important for marketing?
Articulating your Vision & Mission
New blog coming soon….