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The Ultimate Guide to Brand Messaging Pillars

Do you know what your brand’s messaging pillars are? If not, you’re missing out on a valuable opportunity to set yourself apart from your competitors, make yourself memorable, increase conversion rates – and to do better business

Brand messaging pillars (also called brand pillars) are tools to help you set out your brand messaging strategy. Brand messaging is all about catching your potential customer’s eye, showcasing your brand’s personality, and clearly explaining the benefits of what you’re offering. Perhaps most importantly, brand messages ensure these messages come through clearly in every single piece of content you put out.

Brand pillars, however, are the precursors to brand messaging – they’re the core values that will eventually guide your company’s slogans, messaging, behaviour, advertising, decisions, actions and overall identity. So pretty much everything, really. Once you’ve identified your pillars, you can use them to create a brand messaging strategy.

Unsure? Don’t worry – Proof Content is here to unpick the subject. In this article, we’ll look more closely at brand pillars, defining what they are and setting you on the path to establishing your own.

And the prize? Clearly established building blocks that help inform all of your business decisions and communications, and place you where you want to be on the market. Brand messaging pillars can also help you form a stronger foundation for informing your business’ decision-making process.

What are brand pillars?

Brand pillars are a set of values or principles that a brand adheres to in all of its operations. Through brand pillars, companies can create a coherent identity and messaging strategy, and establish themselves strategically on the market – as well as in the minds of their customers.

Brand pillars are like a framework from which you can hang everything else. Or, to take the name more literally, the pillars on which the rest of your business rests. If you’re thinking of an Indian or Greek temple right now, yes, so are we. Let’s help you build it.

What are the 5 Brand Pillars?

There’s no universal set of brand pillars, and almost every brand agency would argue the case for different brand pillars. But the ‘5Ps’, as they’re sometimes called, are often used by brands and agencies to establish their principle values. These five company pillars are: Purpose, Perception, Personality, Position and Promotion. Let’s look at each of these more closely, using examples of brand pillars from well-known businesses:


This is the most important brand pillar. It’s your brand’s overarching mission – your raison d’etre, if you will. When asked “What is your brand’s purpose?” you may be tempted to reply “making money”, which is understandable since that’s what all businesses need to do first and foremost. But a brand’s purpose is what it seeks to achieve beyond the financial drive (since making money is a given).

Examples of purpose as a brand pillar


Sportswear brand Reebok’s purpose is “To empower global youth to fulfil their potential”. To achieve this, the company launched a human rights programme and global corporate citizenship platform to help underprivileged and underserved youth around the world live healthier, more active lives.


Disney’s purpose, meanwhile, is “To entertain, inform and inspire people around the globe through the power of unparalleled storytelling, reflecting the iconic brands, creative minds and innovative technologies that make ours the world’s premier entertainment company.” So as you can see, sometimes a brand’s purpose covers several different areas, and can be quite a mouthful!


Lastly, the purpose of outdoor gear brand Patagonia is “to save our home planet”. Its founder, Yvon Chouinard, is so committed to the cause that in 2022 he actually gave the company away so that all of its profits could go towards… well, saving the planet. More on that later.


Perception is how customers and the wider public view and understand your brand. What is the mental image and associations that you’d like people to experience when they hear your name and see your logo?

People’s perception of your brand doesn’t form overnight – it’s the result of several factors, including collective experiences and interactions. It’s influenced by advertising, word of mouth and product experience, which gradually work together to shape the opinions people have of your brand, whether consciously or unconsciously.

Because perception is shaped from the outside, it’s not something the brand itself can define. All it can do is try to shape the public’s perceptions through messaging, design, PR, service and product (anything that involves interacting with the public) – and hope it works.

Examples of perception as a brand pillar


Tesla is perceived as a pioneer in electric vehicles (EVs), as well as being innovative and sustainable. The automotive company achieved this image by developing high-performance EVs and creating renewable energy solutions. The visionary approach of CEO Elon Musk, arguably a brand in himself, has also shaped how the public perceives the brand.


Nike is associated with being inspirational, high-quality and athletic thanks to its emotive ‘Just Do It’ slogan. But it doesn’t stop there. Its well-designed and well-made athletic clothing and footwear, and marketing campaigns featuring top athletes all contribute to its positive perception.


Patagonia is an interesting one – as mentioned earlier under ‘Purpose’, today this sports brand attaches strong importance to sustainability. But wasn’t always its priority numero uno. In the early 2010s, many customers began jokingly referring to the company as ‘Patagucci’, a portmanteau of the brand name and the luxury fashion label Gucci. This was a clear sign that Patagonia’s perception had shifted towards one of expensive fast fashion that only a select few can afford. This was understandable given the high price point of its clothing, but not an association the brand wanted to embrace. In response, Patagonia stepped up its environmental consciousness to try to move away from the ‘luxury brand’ label, launching a number of sustainable initiatives such as making recycled clothing. The result was that its audience began perceiving the brand as a pioneer in eco-business instead.


Also sometimes referred to as ‘Identity’, a brand’s personality is made up of the human characteristics or traits that could be associated with it. A brand’s personality or identity makes it relatable to customers. From Land Rover’s ruggedness to Red Bull’s energetic, fun-loving spirit, the most effective brands have attributes their customers would find attractive in a person. They build up their personality through advertising campaigns, storytelling, and sponsorships (there’s a clever reason Red Bull sponsors huge, exciting, and often the most dangerous athletic events).

Examples of personality as a brand pillar


It’s important to note that a brand may decide to alter its identity over time, to reflect changes in its target audience. For example, Rolls-Royce had built up a strong reputation as a top car manufacturer since its formation in the late 1800s. However, in 2020, it changed its identity to the ‘Spirit of Ecstasy’. This marked “a shift in the resonance of the brand” and Rolls-Royce’s evolution from an automotive manufacturer into a “leading light in the world of luxury”.

The ‘Spirit of Ecstasy’, a figurine of a woman leaning forwards with her arms outstretched behind and above her, had long appeared on the car’s bonnets – but now she was to take centre stage. Serving as the brand’s muse, the ‘Spirit of Ecstasy’ today represents the luxurious lifestyle that the brand seeks to embody.


The fourth brand pillar sets out how your business differentiates itself from your competitors. It seeks to make an impression in customers’ minds and on the market. USPs (unique selling points) are key here – what does your brand do that others don’t? If your brand positioning is to be effective and make you memorable, it must resonate with the needs, preferences and expectations of your target audience. It has to make your customers feel a connection to the brand and its products or services.

Examples of position as a brand pillar


Take Starbucks, which is in essence simply a coffee chain like many others and has built its positioning around a few key strengths. Firstly, convenience – there’s always a Starbucks there when you need one. Secondly, a friendly atmosphere; its coffee shops are welcoming and pleasant places to spend time. Thirdly, variety and flexibility are key – customers can pick up a handy sandwich while they get their caffeine hit.

By keeping its positioning strategy customer-focused, Starbucks has created an entire culture around sipping the hot, black stuff, with most of its positioning based on the destination, rather than the actual drink.


Another great example is the beauty and skincare brand Dove, which has cemented its position around promoting positive body image and self-care. The company has invested heavily in ad campaigns that challenge traditional beauty standards and promote inclusivity, even working with singer Rebecca Lucy Taylor, who is better known by the name ‘Self Esteem’ – which represents Dove’s brand position to a T (or P).


This final company pillar, also sometimes called ‘Communication’, describes how your brand transmits its values to its target audience. Promotion is all about advertising, image building, and customer interaction.

Examples of promotion as a brand pillar


For years, Walkers promoted its potato crisps through a long-standing TV collaboration with the popular football pundit Gary Lineker. Through these adverts, aired while its target audience relaxed in front of the television, Walkers communicated a sense of Britishness, tradition and quality. Viewers were presented with the idea of Walkers being a household favourite as familiar as watching ‘Match of the Day’ on a Saturday night.

Similarly, meal replacement brand Huel came up with a clever promotion tactic – giving free T-shirts to new subscribers. When satisfied customers wore Huel’s eye-catching tees to the bouldering gym or yoga studio, they were effectively a walking advert for the brand. This piqued the curiosity of its target audience – active, fit types who love fuelling their workouts with vitamin-packed shakes.

What Are the 7 Brand Pillars?

As well as the 5Ps, some brands may find it useful to try out the seven brand pillars. These depend on their service offering, target audience, and values. Let’s touch on some of them.


Refers to the importance of maintaining uniformity and coherence across all brand elements, interactions, and communications.


This refers to what customers can expect from every interaction with your brand, e.g. McDonald’s promises to be ‘familiar’ and FedEx promises to bring ‘peace of mind’.


Your brand’s voice is its own style of communication, which can do much to set it apart from competitors, e.g Oatly’s irreverent, funny, surprising and self-aware voice that appears on its oat milk cartons, Instagram page, and website.


A concrete way to help customers connect with – and remember – your brand. Archetypes need to be easy to understand and customer-focused. You can read more about them here.


Your brand’s commitment to evolving by introducing new ideas, products, services, and processes. Tech giant Apple is the most obvious example, with its consistent track record of creating new and innovative products.

What are the five steps to creating a successful brand messaging pillar strategy?

Here are five steps to help you develop a robust messaging strategy using brand pillars:

  1. Define your brand purpose
    As mentioned earlier, your brand purpose is the most important pillar – the one that will guide all the others. To define it, you can answer these questions:
    – Beyond making a profit, why does your brand exist?
    – What value does your brand bring to customers and society?
    – What impact does your brand have on customers, communities, and the wider world?
  2. Identify your target audience
    It’s important to establish who you’re selling to. Like your brand purpose, your target audience will help you establish all of your other pillars. Here’s how to do it:
    – Define the demographics, needs, pain points, preferences, and behaviours of the customers you’re targeting
    – If necessary, conduct market research, surveys, and interviews to gather information and learn more about your customers
    – Develop customer personas that represent the different segments of your target audience
  3. Establish your brand pillars
    What will your brand pillars be? You may stick with the 5Ps of Purpose, Perception, Personality, Position and Promotion, or perhaps you’ll add others such as Voice, Archetypes, and Innovation. Brand pillar templates may be useful here.
  4. Develop your brand messaging
    With your brand pillars established, you can now use these core values to determine your brand messaging strategy. Here’s how:
    – Think about the language, image, attitude, style, and emotions you want your brand to convey
    – Develop a brand voice guide that outlines the tone, style, and language you’ll use in communications and advertising. But keep it short – here are our thoughts on the problems with brand voice guides
    – Be consistent. Your pillars all need to be strong and upright in order for your business to stay strong and stable
  5. Implement and evaluate
    Now your brand pillars and messaging are in place, it’s time to execute your strategy across all of your communications.
    – Execute your brand pillar strategy across all brand activities and communications, integrating it into marketing, sales, operations, and customer service
    – Share your brand messaging guidelines with everybody in your business so that everybody is singing from the same song sheet – consistency is key
    – Create style guides for content creators to follow when producing blogs, emails, web content and other communications
    – Assess your strategy’s effectiveness using metrics and feedback, then adjust it as necessary

For help with any of the above – or anything else related to brand pillars, brand messaging, or content creation, Proof Content is here to help. Let’s talk brand messaging.

Brand Messaging pillars

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