Having a successful and unique brand image is essential in today's social marketplace. Trends define the way our society moves and functions almost to a tee. Therefore, brands are pursuing a more hands-on approach in order to reach out to their clients and leave a mark that they won't forget. Whether it’s through commercials, social media, or conventional marketing tactics, companies are willing to invest an incredible amount of their resources into building their brand.
These companies are turning to emotional marketing in order to evolve their brand and be able to “humanize” it. The branding pyramid falls into one of the many tools which help in emotional marketing at its core. This tool allows the company to revolutionize their brand image so that the clients have a relationship with the brand; not just see the company as an entity or their products as just an object, But more as someone or something in their life that has meaning to them. I know, this sounds like another episode of black mirror, but trust me it’s not that dark.
The branding pyramid allows for such transitions. The traditional pyramid is separated into 5 different tiers, each tapping into different aspects of the brand and it’s identity.
What is a branding pyramid?
Essence - The value that drives the brand's performance
Brand Personality - The manifestation of the brand in human characteristics
Emotional Benefits - The emotion that results from interaction with the brand
Rational Benefits - The benefits that distinguish the brand from its competitors
Functional Attributes - The features, services, or goods that the brand provide
The Mäd approach
As we moved into a more creative and open business model, the way we engage with clients had to adapt with us. We realized early on that we didn’t want to be like other agencies, we want the client to have a more hands-on approach to their brand and work with us. Because at the end of the day, they are the ones who are going to know exactly “who” their brand is. We are just the ones bringing their vision to reality.
As you can see, there is one difference between the two pyramids (original vs Mäd), the rational tier is gone. But why you ask? It’s simple. The tier that includes the rational benefits doesn’t answer WHY people choose a brand, which is what we want to know in order to fully be able to showcase the brand’s personality. Also, most of the times in which we have tried using the full 5 tier pyramid both the functional attributes and the rational benefits end up being the same or very similar. This also tends to confuse the client of how the process works. Therefore, we focus on two main aspects of a brand in order to successfully fill in the pyramid. The WHY and the HOW.
- Functional Attributes
In most cases, when an agency is working on branding for their client, they disappear after the initial meeting, only to come back a few weeks later with ideas and sketches they “think” is the essence of the brand. They couldn't be farther from the way we do things. We take on a more hands-on approach directly with the client, called Design Sprint. A modern design methodology that focuses on brand attributes in a more personal direction.
We have used design sprint with companies like Pi-Pay, Heineken, Saumya, Inara, Central Mall, Tilleke & Gibbins, Togness, and ISI Group.Most of them have concluded with amazing results and other ones are still well on their way to becoming part of that list.
How it works (Design Sprint focusing on the branding pyramid)
We bring in our clients for two days.
This ensures that their opinions, visions, and questions are all answered and taken care of.
We then build the core branding together using the branding pyramid as the main working tool. Finding each one of the pyramid steps:
- Functional Attributes
Each tier of the design sprint using the branding pyramid is voted among everyone involved in the project (team member and client). This allows for better and unbiased opinions and decisions. Not even the CEO gets a heavier vote than anyone else!
lastly, finalize the brand image decisions with approval from all stakeholders and start the development stage.
There are few steps which we do together in order to maintain a certain level of consistency within the “personality” or the brand. The personality and emotional tiers are done on the same day. Emotional benefits as explained above are hos the audiences perceive the brand or how you want them to perceive it, and the personality is the element which is used to show the emotional benefits which showcase the brand to the client in a more relatable way. Therefore, designating them to be done the same day will ensure their preparation and the team's decisions on them are relevant and complimentary of each other.
However, using the branding pyramid and design sprints is not something that we have been doing since the beginning. This branding approach has been integrated only in the last 6 months. It has helped our design team produce better results with a better understanding of the client and what they think their brand is or really “who” their brand is. By having a better and more concrete branding method, it has allowed also the development team to have a better understanding as well as a deeper passion for what they are creating.
In the end, the design sprint is what has allowed us to succeed in many of our past projects as well as allow us to differentiate ourselves from our competitors. Not only do we learn from them directly, but the output we provide is closer to their vision than they could imagine. To them we are not just an agency, we don't work for our clients but with them. Allowing them to join in the creative process has allowed Mäd and its clients to produce something that everyone is excited about, something they know will be revolutionary in their field.
To finish off, it is important to know that the Branding pyramid is just a tool within the design sprint which we do here at Mäd. There are many more elements which are necessary to go into more depth with to fully describe and understand a design sprint process as a whole. However, the branding pyramid is the glue that defines all the elements as well as bind them together to make the final product.