BlogAntti Iiskola 24.05.2024

Brand Platform – What Is It, and Why Do You Need One?

Brand development Creative content Marketing communications Brand Creative content

A brand communication concept, the core of the brand, a brand promise… as they say in Finnish, a beloved child has many names, but they all try to convey the same thing: the foundation on which the brand is built. Dagmar’s Creative Director, Antti Iiskola, uses the term “brand platform”. It represents a more strategic approach and encompasses a broader entity than a brand identity or a brand promise.

The term brand platform is relatively new, but its roots go far back in history. Companies have always sought to define and manage their brands in the market. The foundations of brand platform were formulated as early as the early 1900s, when the foundations for branding and marketing were being laid. In the 1980s, marketing theorists such as Al Ries and Jack Trout introduced the concept of positioning. This led to the development of a more holistic and strategic approach, known as the brand platform.

What Is a Brand Platform?

A brand platform includes the values, principles, and ideas that define the core of a company or a brand, and the way it communicates. It can also include the mission (why the brand or company exists), positioning, messages, and a brand persona. A well-built brand platform aligns and facilitates everything the brand does and communicates, resulting in better returns.

The goal is to ensure that brand behavior communicates the brand’s identity and value proposition. When the brand platform is well-structured, it is clear to everyone working with the brand how it will react in any given situation, whether it is a marketing campaign, a product description, or crisis communication.

Example visualization of Evian’s brand platform, source:

Brand Strategy Supporting the Brand Platform

The brand platform is based on a well-functioning brand strategy: how do we get to where we want to go. Like any strategy, a brand strategy must be based on research. When building a strategy, you study the needs, desires, and behaviors of (potential) customers, identify brand values and their associations in customers’ minds, assess the current position, define the desired position, and build a mission – a phrase that defines who or what the brand is and why customers should care about it.

In addition, the brand strategy includes the actual strategy: a plan for achieving these goals. The strategy does not have to be a detailed action plan, but it must provide enough tools to build a brand platform. The most important thing in regards to a brand platform is to understand that it cannot be created without a functional brand strategy.

Successful Brand Platforms

While certain brands have thrived on brand platform thinking for decades, for some reason, few brands have actually been able to consistently hold on to their own platform when building their brand.

Well-known, successful brands that use brand platforms include (among others):

  • Apple – Don’t settle for the present; think about what could be. Product development starts with what you want to be able to do with the product, and only then do you think about how to implement it.
  • Omo/Persil – While other detergent brands explain how they remove dirt, Omo says dirty clothes are a sign of a happy childhood.
  • Harley Davidson – HD doesn’t sell motorcycles; they sell freedom, rebellion, and adventure. You don’t have to adapt to society’s norms if you ride a Harley.
  • Rolex – A Rolex on your wrist isn’t just a watch, it’s a sign that you’ve been successful. “A crown for every achievement”.

And so on. There are dozens of examples, but not too many. There is still room among the world’s most valuable brands.

Examples of Rolex’ marketing.

Nike – How to Pull It Off

Perhaps the most famous example of a brand platform is Nike. It is often claimed that their slogan “Just Do It” is the entire brand platform, even though it is just an excellent phrase describing their brand platform very well. The foundation itself was built long before the slogan was launched in 1988. The slogan, developed by advertising agency Wieden+Kennedy, skillfully encapsulates the essence of Nike’s brand platform: creating products for those who face seemingly impossible challenges, but who have a relentless attitude, readiness to do what is needed, and the will to do the right thing.

Nike’s brand platform has remained more or less the same since the brand was founded in 1971.

Nike does not declare how much better its products are or what new technology has been used in them, nor does it disparage its competitors. Nike puts its customers at the center by telling stories of athletes who achieve their goals through their uncompromising attitude, perseverance, and doing what is right. These athletes don’t have to be elite athletes. Marketing often also features regular people, just with the right attitude.

Plus, Nike does what it promises. Not only does it claim to have an uncompromising attitude, but it also delivers on its promises. In 2016, NFL quarterback Colin Kaepernick began kneeling during the pre-game national anthem to draw attention to the problem of racism in the United States. Unlike many others, Nike did not abandon Kaepernick but made him the hero of their marketing campaign. Nike drew attention to Kaepernick’s cause and showed everyone that they are not afraid to take a stand for what they think is right. As a result, Nike’s share price dropped 3%, and brand polls saw a drop in support. But a little later, the share price rose 5%, and online sales increased by 31%. You don’t have to please everyone, as long as you know your customers.

Practice What You Preach and Walk the Talk – The Importance of Brand Actions

Brand actions should be one of the most important elements enabled by a brand platform. It is one thing to claim to be something, but another to show what you are through actions. At best, brand actions are reported through earned media, not through the brand’s own marketing. Would you rather believe a brand that says that it is on the side of the weakest in an ad, or one that altruistically arranges housing for the homeless or donates food for a food drive? Of course, deeds can be talked about by the brand, but actions must not stop when the television cameras turn off and influencers leave.

Not all actions have to be massive, world-changing stunts. Even the smaller ones make a difference. The most important thing is that the actions are in line with the brand platform, ongoing, reflecting brand values, and not done solely for marketing reasons, but because the brand believes in something and acts accordingly. Going back to what Nike was doing, the ads starring Kaepernick were captioned “Believe in something. Even if it means sacrificing everything.” This.

Examples of Nike marketing communication.

Challenges on the Horizon

Building a brand platform is almost always worth the resources spent on it, but not automatically. If the idealistic elements of the brand platform conflict with the actual operation of the company, it is easy to run into problems. If a company declares its commitment to sustainability but its practices don’t meet the requirements, accusations of greenwashing can damage brand credibility and lower its value. Or if a company claims to be customer-oriented and caring, but at the same time, it is impossible to contact customer service and customer feedback is not taken into account, the conflict between communication and action causes harm to the brand in the minds of customers.

Maintaining a brand platform requires constant commitment from all levels of the organization. Lack of consistency across channels undermines brand value and reliability. The brand platform should not only be a slogan created by the marketing department but should reflect the true values of the company, and the company should commit to acting accordingly.

The brand platform must also be flexible and updated over time, as the market situation, society, and consumer expectations change. A brand platform can live and evolve to remain relevant and impactful, but it shouldn’t change completely. The basic idea should remain the same.

Consistent and Long-Term Brand Building

A brand platform is not a shortcut to happiness. At first, it may even seem that nothing changes much, profits are not generated immediately, and ROAS does not grow. But the beauty of the brand platform lies in its longevity. When a brand platform built with knowledge and skill has been created, and acted upon in a long-term and consistent manner, the value of the brand increases in the long run. This accumulates and is reflected in the result. Not necessarily in the first quarter, but it will eventually rise. And at the same time, you can sleep well at night, knowing that your brand is acting according to its values.

If your brand lacks a brand platform and you need help building it, we’re here to help. Send an email, call, or ask us to visit!


Antti Iiskola

Creative Director


Antti leads creative work, studies artificial intelligence and is always in pursuit of the best idea. In his free time, he either hangs out with a guitar and microphone, tinkers with retro games and machines, or immerses himself in pop culture and science documentaries.


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