What Is A Brand Pyramid And Why It Matters In Business

A brand pyramid is a representational framework that answers fundamental questions about a brand and market positioning. The framework is particularly useful for new brands to enter a market for the first time. It moves from bottom to bottom with these elements: features and attributes, functional benefits, emotional benefits, brand persona/core values, and brand essence.

Understanding brand pyramids

Brand pyramids help a business clarify its brand essence – or the emotional feeling that consumers come to expect from interacting with a brand.

Here, it’s important to note that developing a brand pyramid should be an internal process. In other words, the business must define the external face of its brand by first looking inwards. What does a business stand for and how does it want to be perceived? This is a question that only a business can answer, and should never be left for others to decide.

Ideally, the brand pyramid should assist in developing a unique selling proposition, brand story, and overall marketing strategy. It can also serve as a standard that businesses can refer to in gauging whether its actions are aligned with its core values.

Establishing a brand pyramid

A brand pyramid can be created by using a triangle divided into five tiers. Marketing teams must start at the base and then move upwards.

Let’s look at each of the tiers in more detail.

1. Features and attributes 

Features and attributes describe the basic purpose of the product in the market. In other words, what does it do, and how does it do it? For example, a messaging app may have custom emojis, group chat, and video chat features.

2. Functional benefits

Functional benefits delve a little deeper. This tier seeks to determine the problems that a product or service is attempting to solve. Put differently, functionality describes the reason a consumer uses a product. It also describes their expected outcome after consumption. The messaging app solves the problem of free, instantaneous communication allowing consumers to express themselves through video and custom emojis.

3. Emotional benefits

What emotions do consumers tie to the usage of a product or service? The user of an instant messaging app may feel connection, anticipation, joy, and acceptance. 

4. Brand persona/core values

Marketing personas give businesses a general overview of key segments of their target audience and how these segments interact with their brand. Marketing personas are based on the data of an ideal, fictional customer whose characteristics, needs, and motivations are representative of a broader market segment.

Brand persona simply describes the personification of a brand. What values are important to this person? How does the brand persona influence or reinforce marketing strategies and product development, and vice versa?

For example, insurance company Geico uses a gecko as representative of its brand persona. The gecko calms the typical fear and distrust of insurance companies by appearing curious, approachable, and friendly.

5. Brand essence

Brand essence is defined as the core characteristic of a brand that elicits an emotional response in consumers. Brand essence is unique to every business, and the most successful businesses use it to create a reliable feeling in their target audience that builds loyalty over time.

Brand essence is the apex of the brand pyramid, and for good reason. Brand essence is the heart and soul of a business and is a culmination of the previous four tiers. It is a reason for existing that guides everything a business does. Importantly, brand essence is felt by customers in the form of positive emotions.

Volvo’s brand essence is safety. That is, safety is a core function of their brand which determines how they invest in the manufacture of safe cars. This focus on safety is decades-long and is best exemplified by Volvo’s invention of the three-point seat belt in 1958. The company was also ahead of the curve with the introduction of airbags over 30 years later.

Key takeaways:

  • Brand pyramids help businesses define the very essence of their brands by way of visual representation.
  • Brand pyramids are divided into five tiers that a business must move through to reach the top: features and attributes, functional benefits, emotional benefits, brand persona/core values, and finally, brand essence.
  • Brand pyramids provide a systematic means of clarifying brand essence, which determines the emotions consumers associate with a brand. These pyramids also guide marketing strategy and business operations.

Connected concepts

Brand Building

Brand building is the set of activities that help companies to build an identity that can be recognized by its audience. Thus, it works as a mechanism of identification through core values that signal trust and that help build long-term relationships between the brand and its key stakeholders.

Brand Positioning

Brand positioning is about creating a mental real estate in the mind of the target market. If successful, brand positioning allows a business to gain a competitive advantage. And it also works as a switching cost in favor of the brand. Consumers recognizing a brand might be less prone to switch to another brand.


Market segmentation is the process of dividing the market into sub-groups. Market segmentation can be based on characteristics such as age, behaviors, income levels, and more. This process helps to understand what your key customers want, where they are, and how to talk to them effectively.

Mission Statement

A mission statement helps an organization to define its purpose in the now and communicate it to its stakeholders. That is why a good mission statement has to be concise, clear to able to articulate what’s unique about an organization, thus building trust and rapport with an audience.

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Published by

Gennaro Cuofano

Gennaro is the creator of FourWeekMBA which reached over a million business students, executives, and aspiring entrepreneurs in 2020 alone | He is also Head of Business Development for a high-tech startup, which he helped grow at double-digit rate | Gennaro earned an International MBA with emphasis on Corporate Finance and Business Strategy | Visit The FourWeekMBA BizSchool | Or Get in touch with Gennaro here