January 23, 2017


What is Brand ladder and how to use it for brand building?

Brand ladder

Multiple qualities of the brand can influence consumer decision making. Brand ladder refers to the marketing tool used by marketers, to communicate all the benefits of a brand to the end customer. The brand ladder concept delivers a fantastic customer experience to all its customers.

It has its origins in the beginning of the 80’s, when both marketing researchers and practitioners sought ways of moving beyond the practice of marketing products by features. This idea was described by Philip Kotler and Kevin lane Keller.

Brand ladder is generally known to connect product and brand attributes to the personal and social factors of customers lifestyle. The traditional brand ladder includes three categories, namely attributes, functional benefits and emotional benefits.  In 2011, the Boston Consulting Group came with the proposal to add to the model a fourth dimension. This fourth dimension was social benefit.

 So the four dimensions of Brand ladders are as follows.

  • Attributes – Physical features of the products.
  • Functional benefits – What is the USP of the product and why it is functionally different from the market.
  • Emotional benefits – Whether the brand provides a sense of security and purpose to the end customers.
  • Social benefits – Whether the brand increases the stature of the customer in the eyes of his social circle.

These four dimensions of brand ladder help in communicating a fantastic brand presence in the eyes of the consumer. Using this brand ladder can lead to customer loyalty, better profits, and good stakeholder confidence.

At the same time, the brand ladder gives a unified approach from the angle of all four P’s – Promotions, products, price and placement. In order for brand ladder to be effective, it requires a data driven approach. As it is is a creative and disciplined tool, it shares what a company is allowed to do and it can be measured and tracked over time.

The executives responsible for branding, first research what drives the customer’s choice in the respective product category. They then translate this understanding in the core elements of the brand during brand building. Thus, the brand ladder concept touches all parts of the organisation to ensure buy-in and commitment from customers.

Three steps of creating a Brand ladder

  • Live the laddering with the consumer: Consumer validation to build an exhaustive list of all possible relevant and credible products attributes, functional benefits, emotional benefits and social benefits.
  • Build and quantify laddering options with your target consumer
  • Create benefit ladder and positioning statement: combining consumer input (phase 1 & 2) and strategic reflection.

As the current business environment is continuously changing, every day decisions have to be made as per the entire company. However, some of the departments may take decisions independently without considering the brand promise. Hence, the communication of using a brand ladder for each department helps even the company understand the importance of brand building.


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About Hitesh Bhasin

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