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Secrets to Branding your Startup Part 1: The Brand Pyramid

Uncover the core elements of your business branding strategy with the Brand Pyramid

Knowing where to start when trying to develop a brand can be an overwhelming deep dive of research and content consumption. However, developing a brand is the process of unearthing the essence of your business rather than trying to manufacture a marketing strategy. It's about how to authentically convey the solution to the problem your product was conceived to solve.

In this article, we attempt to simplify and offer the practical steps to understanding and developing this branding methodology for yourself.

What is a brand pyramid?

A brand pyramid is a strategic activity for developing clear intentions for the branding of a company, product or service.

The purpose of the brand pyramid is to clarify the foundational elements and principles of your business, creating a simple and easy-to-understand framework of what your business is about. This allows for effective and meaningful communication of those values and objectives to your employees and stakeholders.

This can be pivotal in establishing a clear direction for the continual growth of your enterprise, whether it is a personal brand, small business or a large corporation. Knowing your objectives and tending to the groundwork of your brand identity will yield increased focus in your output, effective and meaningful engagement, as well as assure the longevity of the company.

In the video below, Jiffy Iuen of Frank Collective unpacks the brand pyramid exercise with insights from her wealth of experience coaching founders of major brands through the very same process.


Where do you start? How do you create your own brand pyramid?

The first step is to ask yourself and your team the following questions:

  1. How would you describe what your company is about in one sentence?
  2. What problem does the product/ service you provide solve?
  3. How should the product/ service you offer make your customers feel?
  4. What are the core values of the business?

You may find there are overlaps and similar themes in the responses, these are important markers for how your team and ultimately your target audience is perceiving your company. Consider how you can best streamline these ideas in a cohesive and specific way as you tackle the brand pyramid exercise. 

Activity: Creating your own Brand Pyramid

Using Jiffy Iuen's methodology, we are going to create your brand pyramid together to help define what your brand is, how it interacts with your product, and its role in the market.

1st Tier: Product - Features and Attributes

As the base level of the pyramid, this is the foundation of your business.

Consider what your product is in its simplest terms. The following questions are a guideline of where to start, tailor them according to your own product or service. The aim is to quantify your answers in the form of one sentence.

  • What is the product, service, or experience you are selling?
  • What features does it have? (Example: an on-the-go wireless blender with 3 different speed settings)

2nd Tier: Functional Benefits

This tier focuses on what the problem is that your product is addressing.

  • What does it do? 
  • What practical benefit does it provide the person using it? (Example: continuing with the example of the blender; it blends fruit, vegetables and ice for quick and convenient on-the-go smoothies)

3rd Tier: Emotional Benefits 

The emotional benefits tier of your brand pyramid is where your product starts to become something more than a commodity.

  • How does it make the user/consumer feel when they use your product/service? (Example: using the on-the-go blender, the product makes the user feel organized and on top of their day. It might even give them more time to spend with their kids)
  • What are the positive emotional benefits/ effects of buying into this brand?
  • How does it provide value to the life of the consumer?

This tier is all about the narrative of how your product is solving a problem, unlike the first two tiers, it becomes important to develop the story behind why and how your product will benefit your audience and make them feel elevated.

4th Tier: Persona 

This refers to what people see of your brand; the look and feel, tone of voice, and personality it portrays. At this stage, the entire focus of the brand moves beyond being product-focused and becomes personal. Here, you decide how to authentically engage and interact with your customers. 

  • If your brand was a person, how would you describe them?
  • What are the key values you want to convey about your brand?
  • How can you reflect these traits in every aspect of your brand expression?

Decide and implement these characteristics when deciding on the tone of voice, diction, color schemes, iconography, the experience you want to foster for your audience, and the quality and style of how the brand is perceived.

5th Tier: Brand Promise

The brand promise is the epitome of who you are as a company, the highest goal you have set to strive toward and exemplify. This promise is highly emotive and abstract but based on the authentic truth of what your brand is at its core. 

In your brand promise, you are answering the following questions in the form of a statement.

  • What is your reason for being?
  • What is the lifeblood of your company, the essence of why you do what you do?
  • How do you facilitate people feeling heard, seen and related to, by what your product provides?

Branding is about the memories and meaning your consumers associate with your brand. It’s about tapping into the human element that connects the product to the customer by communicating why and how it will benefit, provide convenience, or add value to their lives. 

Want to learn more?

We created a whole DesignClass about this!

To access more tools to develop your own brand identity, check out Create a Memorable & Authentic Brand with Jiffy Iuen on DesignClass.

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