Branding Pyramid

Branding Pyramid

The Brand Pyramid is a useful tool to define the essence of your brand – some may call it your brand DNA.

By putting on paper, in a succinct way, your brand foundations and brand deliverables, it will help clarify (for you and for other internal audiences) what your brand really stands for.

It is meant to be and to remain an internal document, rather than something you would share with customers or partners.

Why Develop a Brand Pyramid?

Putting together a Brand Pyramid is a useful exercise when you are working on defining the external face and voice of your brand. For instance, your Brand Pyramid should feed into developing your Unique Value Proposition, into the development of your brand story, your marketing strategy, and your communications plans.

In all cases, it will become an important record to refer to, to ensure consistency in the way your brand behaves across all touchpoints and to ensure that all your marketing and communications initiatives are ‘on brand’.

Whilst your external communications may change based on needs, circumstances, business objectives and priorities, etc, your brand and what it stands for should have longevity. It is meant to be and to remain an internal document, rather than something you would share with customers or partners.

The Brand Pyramid

To fill in the Brand Pyramid template, start from the bottom and make your way up, finishing with the essence of your brand.

Example Brand Pyramid

To illustrate the below instructions, we will use the example of one of the social enterprise Ākina supports: Bikes in Schools.

Bikes in Schools (BIS) is a unique concept which aims to provide all pupils at primary schools with regular and equal access to a bike, bike helmet and specially designed bike tracks, within the school environment.

The aim is to encourage pupils to become more active and healthy, help them develop various bike skills, build their self-esteem and confidence, all while in a safe and familiar environment.

Brand Foundations

Customer truth

  • These are the key insights you uncovered when talking to your customers during market research.
  • Focus on your key customers – you shouldn’t have more than three key customers represented here.
  • Choose the insights that you think are the most powerful and that will help you define your brand identity; we call them ‘customer truths’.

BIS example – Two key customer segments:

1. Principals want to create a school that is acclaimed by the community, for its supportive, efficient and result-driven teaching environment, but they are time-poor and risk-averse.

2. Parents (in low-decile communities) want to give their children the best possible opportunity to grow, physically and mentally, but they lack the knowledge and information to take their children on this journey.

Customer description

This is a concise definition of your customer segment.

Include not only demographics information but also some behavioural insights here. This content may be the same as the definition of your customers in your Social Lean Canvas.

BIS Example:

1. Principals / Schools – All primary schools in NZ with a focus on low-decile communities. Within the schools, BIS primarily target Principals as they will be the one putting the proposal forward to the Board of trustees and therefore need to be convinced and able to support the proposal.

2. Families – All families with children between the age of 5 and 12, with a focus on low-decile communities.

Describe your competition, including the alternatives your customers currently have This content should encapsulate the ‘Alternatives’ as described in your Social Lean Canvas.

BIS example: Get Set Go programme.


What we call the attributes of your brand are all the aspects of your product and offer that, together, define your brand and make it unique.

They are all the features, attributes, properties, that help underpin your promise or UVP

BIS example: charitable trust, complete biking package, incorporated to primary schools PE curriculum, health, fitness, personal development, education, low-decile communities, 30 primary schools, fun activity, quality assurance, access to cycle skills trainers.

Brand Deliverables

They are all the practical benefits your brand offers to your various customer segments Think about the practical, functional ways you solve your audiences’ problems.

BIS example: easy way to get kids active, easy-to-implement, all-in-one solution, speed of implementation, cost-effective, healthier and fitter children, better behaved pupils, higher achievements, increased school profile, efficient use of school infrastructure, skills for life, awareness of ‘green transport’.

They are all the more personal, maybe indirect and maybe subjective benefits your brand offers to your various customer segments. Think about how the intervention of, or contact with, your brand will make them feel.

BIS example: more confident children, increased self-esteem, happier children at home, more fun at school, Principals’ sense of pride in their school, sense of relief for parents.

They are the values that define your brand and business. These values should be applied through everything you do and say. Try and keep the list to maximum 5 key values as it can be tempting to produce a long list and dilute what you really stand for – select only the key ones.

BIS example: fairness, humility, determination.

If your brand was a person, what would her/his personality be? As above, try and keep the description concise so that you don’t come across as a multi-faceted, hard-to-understand, personality!

BIS example: supportive, reliable, collaborative, passionate, altruist.

Your brand promise is what your target customers can expect in their interactions with you. The brand promise focuses on the one or two key points of difference between your brand offering and other alternative offerings. Typically, these points of difference are brand benefits, benefits that are relevant, unique, compelling and believable for your brand. Because customers can’t link more than one or two benefits to a given brand in their minds, you should choose carefully.

It is different to your Unique Value Proposition. Your UVP translates the value you are adding or offering to your customer segment, based on their needs, problems and expectations. It varies depending on which customer segment you address. Your Brand promise however is true to your brand, it is unique and relevant to all your internal and external audiences.

All the elements to articulate your Brand promise should now be captured in the pyramid. Keep in mind your core insights, your brand attributes and the benefits you offer as you write your Brand promise. Then refer back to your values and personality to ensure that what you wrote is in alignment.

BIS example: Bikes in Schools is a fun and cost-effective programme that improves health and education outcomes at primary schools.

This is the heart and soul of your brand. It should be one, two or three words maximum This is the one word (or short statement) that summarises what your brand stands for.

No brand can be single-mindedly defined by one word or a three-word statement – brands are much more complex than this. Your essence on its own will never be differentiating enough (i.e. other brands could choose the same word/statement as their essence). However, it is useful to choose one adjective or a statement that sums up as well as possible how your brand connects emotionally with your customers.

Without pretending to be creative, it could become your brand’s tagline or slogan.

BIS example: Fun developmental programme

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