brand pillars | toddler stacking blocks into a pillar

What Are Brand Pillars and Why Do They Matter?

 

A few months ago, I wrote about the differences between a positioning statement and elevator pitch. At the very end of the blog post, I mentioned brand pillars. This prompted my friend Danielle Verderosa to ask me what they are. 

 

This article is for her – and you!

 

What are brand pillars?

 

Brand pillars are the top three reasons why people work with you. In other words, they are your differentiators.

 

For example, here are three brand pillars I wrote for someone who helps technology companies create a go-to-market strategy for new products:

 

  1. Expert assessment
  2. Fast turnaround
  3. Revenue-smashing results 

 

And here are three brand pillars I wrote for a wealth management firm:

 

  1. Results
  2. Relationships
  3. Confidence

 

They can have some flair – like the first example – or be more straightforward – like the second example. It’s very dependent on your brand voice. 

 

And in case you’re wondering, these are my brand pillars:

 

  • Strategic
  • Responsive
  • Fun

 

(Fun is highly under-rated in the workplace, and I think we need a lot more of it. Obviously, having fun is not appropriate for every type of business, like a funeral home.) 

 

Note that your brand pillars don’t describe your products or services. They describe what it’s like to work with you.

 

Why do they matter?

 

Brand pillars are building blocks for creating kick-ass brand messaging. They ensure you are consistent online and in-person. But even better, they stop all the guessing. When you are creating new content, you will know exactly what to say about your brand.

 

From the brand pillars flow your headline benefits and supporting examples. Trust me, these are great things.

 

A headline benefit describes how you deliver on each of your pillars. Here’s what I wrote for the wealth management firm:

 

Results: We can help you build wealth to meet your financial goals and live life on your terms.

 

Relationships: We help you uncover the needs of your parents and secure your children’s future, a process that often strengthens family bonds.

 

Confidence: We empower our clients to gain control over their finances, allowing them to do more with their wealth.

 

See why these are so great? They succinctly describe what makes the firm special. And this content can be used all over the place:

 

  • Incorporate these messages on your website home and about pages. 
  • Use them in your own bio.
  • Integrate them into social media profiles on LinkedIn and wherever you have a social presence.
  • Add them to proposals and sales presentations.
  • Include the brand pillars in your email signature and on letterhead.

 

Heck, you can use them in your positioning statement! 

 

Can you tell me more about supporting examples?

 

Sure thing. 

 

Supporting examples break down the headline benefits into action statements.

 

Here are the examples for the wealth management firm’s first brand pillar and headline benefit of results:

 

  1. Audit financial accounts and spending patterns to find savings and support portfolio growth
  2. As a fiduciary, recommend best investments for client goals
  3. Proactively rebalance portfolios to grow wealth
  4. Set new standards for financial advisors

 

Supporting examples can be used in different places on your website. For the four examples above, I’d use the first three on a services page and the fourth one on the about page. 

 

You can also weave these into blog posts or social media content. Let’s say you’re sharing a client story. You might lead with how you always look for ways to rebalance client portfolios every six months. Then you can talk about the results (brand pillar!) you got for a bunch of clients when you rebalanced after the stock market shifted back to a bull market.

 

So, how do you get started?

 

I see you like a challenge! Excellent.

 

First, go look at your client testimonials and reviews. What words keep getting repeated to describe the brand? 

 

Because a brand is what people say it is when you’re not around, these are the words you want to go with. As long as you like them. If you don’t, well, that’s a whole ‘nother conversation.

 

Second, ask a few of your favorite clients what they like most about working with you. Their answers should align with your testimonials and reviews. 

 

From there, pick the three you want to be known for. 

 

One fun exercise you can do here is called “Only I.” No idea where I first heard about this exercise, but I did it back in 2020.

 

Email clients or business partners you know well. Ask them to fill in the statement, “Only [your name]  _______________________.”

 

When I did this, here are the favorite responses I got:

 

  • Only I can give it to you straight and make you laugh at the same time.
  • Only I share completely from my heart with openness, honesty and transparency.
  • Only I can boil down key points into simple language that is clear and understandable by everyone.

 

Each statement is spot-on to me and my brand.

 

Need help?

 

Brand messaging that truly reflects your brand is priceless. It will make your marketing easier and more impactful. And it will help you connect with your ideal client.

 

This isn’t easy to do, so if you need help creating brand messaging guidelines, reach out. We would be happy to help.

 

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