f you own a business you probably pay attention to other companies, especially your competitors. (If you don’t do this already, start now.) Check out some of their websites and social media and you may notice they’re not all created equally.
One company has a strong voice. You can hit their website and almost immediately understand who they are, what problems they can solve, and how they go about solving them.
Another business is a hot mess. They don't seem to have a clear purpose, talk too much about themselves, and fail to state clear benefits of the services they offer.
What does the first business have that the second lacks?
They’ve found their purpose by defining their brand pillars.
So many businesses skip this crucial step. This becomes readily apparent when you approach them with a problem and come away with no clue about what they can actually do to fix it. Chances are, they’re just as confused as you are.
How can your pillars bring you and your audience such clarity? Let’s find out.
Your pillars are the foundation of your business and the key aspects of your brand that should guide all of your decisions at every level. One reason this concept is poorly understood is because there is a ton of information out there trying to define precisely what brand pillars should be.
Google will bring you a hundred different interpretations of this idea. “The 5 Brand Pillars”, “The 10 Pillars of Successful Branding”. (Wait, so just how many pillars are there?) They might attempt to list out “definitive” values that are somehow meant to apply to everyone. “The 17 ‘P’s’ of Branding Success: Patriotism, Pepper, Professionalism…”
These articles mean well and the “P” theme is cute, but they tend to miss the point. What has worked for someone else won’t necessarily work for you. Core values are unique to each brand and no one else can define yours for you.
Okay, so, what are your brand pillars?
Your brand pillars are simply your vision and mission statements and the promise you’re making to your audience, supported by the solid foundation provided by your brand values.
Think of your messaging as a house. Your values form the foundation, or the floor of the house. The floor supports your pillars, which holds up the roof of your messaging.
So, how do you do this? The process of defining your brand’s pillars is easier than you may think.
Start with your values, which will help you determine your vision, mission, and promise. Your values are your why, your reason for being that should resonate deeply with your target audience. Everything about your messaging flows from this.
Now, imagine a future where, through exemplifying those values, your business has made a major impact on the world. It doesn’t matter if you’re a non-profit looking to create major change in your community, or a small flower shop hoping to bring beauty and happiness to the neighborhood. Think big. What does that future look like? Turn it into a short declaration:
“Our vision is a world full of empowered, happy business owners.”
This is your vision statement, your what.
Next, you need to figure out how you’re going to get there. What steps will you take to bring about this ideal world you’re envisioning? Turn this into a short statement as well:
“Our mission is to provide the tools and knowledge needed to develop a successful business.”
This is your mission statement, your how.
Finally, look at your vision and mission statements and figure out what this says to your audience. What promise are you making to them if they chose to hire you?
“You don’t have to do this alone. We have your back.”
This doesn’t necessarily need to become its own statement. Your promise is a tool used to create powerful brand messaging. Keep this promise in mind, and your messaging will always be focused on your customers, and not on yourself.
Taken as a whole, these pillars are the essence of your brand. Always look to them for guidance. They provide incredible clarity not just to your target audience, but to you as a business owner as well.
Remember: understand what you’re doing and why, and they will too.
Stick to your pillars and soon you’ll have a devoted following of people who absolutely love your brand.
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