The Brand Ladder

Evaluating a brand and the ‘but’s’

Olabanji Stephen
2 min readFeb 15, 2021

The term brand ladder was coined by Professor Kevin Lane Keller (writer of strategic brand management) and I guess Philip Kotler. It refers to the various benefit levels which a brand provides to its customers.

It has three main levels.

Attributes (what it is or has)

Speaks of the specifications and features of a product, like the size, weight, for example, a hair clipper might be wireless, have good battery power, sharp and long-lasting blades

Functional benefit (what it does)

The functional benefits will be what the attributes render to the user or customer. For the clipper, it will be long work hours, no wire clusters, easy and comfortable in terms of weight, etc.

Emotional benefit (how it feels)

This refers to the feeling the product brings and the void it feels in the life of the user/customer. A great clipper may make the barber feel like a professional or make a guy feel handsome and that can go a long way to affect his mood throughout the day or week as a matter of fact.

The other level (which I wouldn’t classify as major) but might count is social benefit and it refers to how the brand makes a customer feel in society (among peers, circle, etc.)

If you decide to check how well your brand is doing using the brand ladder (which you should), you would be reasonably on track because you would have answered some of the key questions that make for a timeless brand. The problem however is interpreting a good ladder score to mean customer loyalty because it is not always true.

Customer loyalty is a different ballgame and the fact is, customer loyalty is overrated, although there might be a hack. Let’s talk about it some other time. Duty calls now.



Olabanji Stephen

I see the world differently and attempt to interpret it in ways that inspire genius