Brand Ladder - Meaning, Stages & Example

Published in Marketing and Strategy Terms by MBA Skool Team, Last Updated: September 13, 2021

What is Brand Ladder?

Brand Ladder refers to the various benefits which a product or service can provide to its customers at different levels through its features and attributes. Over the lifecycle of a brand, marketers project a brand so as to gain customer loyalty. Brand Ladder goes from functional benefits to more higher level benefits which are larger than one customer's needs.

The term was coined by Kevin Lane Keller, Professor who wrote the book ‘Strategic Brand Management’. 

4 Stages (or Levels) of Brand Ladder

The various levels in a brand ladder are based on the product attributes and their benefit impact. Attributes refer to the physical features of the product like specifications. If we consider the example of a mobile phone – the attributes could be the size, weight, processor, operating system.

The Brand Ladder consists of the following levels or stages:

Functional Benefits

It refers to the benefits that are rendered to the consumer by the attributes. In a mobile phone, functional benefits includes speed, memory, interface experience.

Emotional Benefits

It refers to how the product/ service connect with the consumer in daily life through its usage. A mobile phone can provide different benefits for its users like gaming, messaging, browsing.

Transformational Benefits

These refer to benefits at a more holistic benefits the product might give in the longer run to the customer. These include the lifestyle or overall changes which the product will bring to one's life because of the usage.

These benefits are at high level and many brands may be at functional and emotional benefits only.

Societal Benefits

Many a times, customers are looking for a good product which along with benefit to them can also benefit society as a whole. Environment friendly products are preferred by a lot of customers because of this stage.

A brand over its lifecycle is required to travel through these levels in order to gain a loyal customer base. Some of the most successful brands have been existing for decades because they have been able to successfully pass through the 4 levels.

Brand Ladder Examples

let us say a brand ABC sells robotic vacuum cleaners and uses the brand ladder. It starts with the functional benefits of being able to automatically clean a home for days once charged. After that emotional benefit is that it saves a lot of time for the customer to utilize in other tasks by freeing the time for cleaning.

These are the main 2 benefits but at a higher level, it can also show transformational benefit by helping customer save lot of costs and time that would have otherwise gone in manual cleaning and benefit the life overall. Finally the company can also show societal benefits by showing the overall environmental benefits e.g. being more durable and usage of less water as well as equipment to clean houses.

Hence, this concludes the definition of Brand Ladder along with its overview.

This article has been researched & authored by the Business Concepts Team. It has been reviewed & published by the MBA Skool Team. The content on MBA Skool has been created for educational & academic purpose only.

Browse the definition and meaning of more similar terms. The Management Dictionary covers over 1800 business concepts from 5 categories.

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