The 4 Pillars of a Successful Brand
When we brand or rebrand a company, organization, or product, the goal is always to help them communicate and differentiate and make sure the brand engages with its employees and customers. To get there, we implement four core pillars of branding.
The pillars come together to create the brand’s foundation that sets it up to be as successful as possible – for the long term – and to help that business grow. For the brand to be impactful, we build these pillars in a strategic sequence. In other words, you can’t make the last pillar without creating the first one first.
The four pillars are:
1-Foundational Branding, 2-Verbal Branding, 3-Visual Branding, and 4-Tactical Branding.
Foundational branding is the core that grounds a brand in meaning and the emotion it evokes. Some of the critical components include the organization’s purpose, vision, mission, and core values. We also have the attributes that describe the desired state of the brand. This foundation guides each of the following steps in crafting a brand.
The second pillar is verbal branding. These are the words that articulate the brand clearly and memorably. Clarity around what your company stands for, why people need your products, or how your services solve customer’s problems are critical. Brands that only focus on visual elements and overlook messaging alone will get lost in the crowd and miss out on crucial opportunities.
The third pillar is visual branding. When most people think about branding, they think of the logo. But it’s so much more – it’s all the designs that identify the brand in a meaningful and attractive way. A brand does include the logo and also color, photography, and a style guide. If you think of the whole brand as an iceberg, the visual part of the brand is what you see above the water. But there’s a bunch more underneath the surface that makes that iceberg float.
The fourth pillar is what we call Tactical Branding. These are all the materials you execute to market your brand. The menu of tactics can include sales and marketing materials, website design, branded environments, wayfinding signage, social and digital, product packaging, and the multitude of ways you interact with and engage customers.
Tactics are essential – they are how a brand generates awareness, communicates, and comes to life within its industry. The problem is when a company looking for long-term success focuses solely on the tactics and overlooks the strategy based on the other three pillars. Suppose you concentrate on a new website without first focusing on the brand’s foundation. In that case, the website will likely not successfully communicate what you stand for. It will not stand out from the competition, and it will not effectively engage your audience.
What’s the difference between strategies and tactics? The strategy is the way you plan to reach your goals. The tactics are the things you do or try to support your strategy. When you need to pivot, feel free to change your tactics – but resist the urge to change your strategy.
Think of your brand as a car. If your goal is to get somewhere, then the tactics are the gas. If we pour gas into a vehicle without a functioning engine, then it isn’t going anywhere. But if we build the car properly and then fill it with gas – that’s where we get some excellent results.
Here’s to helping your brand stand out from the crowd!