By Klaus Heine

Most entrepreneurs today do not just wish to make money, but also aim to serve a good purpose. They combine self-discovery with business-modelling and brand-building, but struggle to exploit the full spectrum and true potential of symbolic brand benefits. This article will help businesspeople combine these tasks as the author outlines the Brand-Building Canvas, explains why and how to use it, and briefly describes each of the brand-building elements. 


As a professor in luxury marketing at emlyon business school, I concentrate on how to build luxury brands for many years. There is no other segment in which symbolic consumer benefits play a greater role than for luxury brands. A big part of the brand-building process deals with the creation of ‘meaning’. Building a (luxury) brand is about developing brand identity. To find out what you want your brand to stand for, you can make use of a brand identity planning model that provides an overview about what brand elements should be considered and how they will inter-relate. However, there exist surprisingly few alternative brand identity models (e.g. by Aaker, 1997; De Chernatony, 1999; Esch 2008; Kapferer 2012). The existing models miss some aspects and do not allow to cover the full spectrum of brand meaning. There are some important components missing in some models (e.g. brand vision). As most commonly used models were created decades ago, they do not account for the tremendous changes in marketing and branding caused by digitalisation. In addition, they only focus on brand-building, although there is much overlap between the tasks of brand-building and business-modelling. 

A big part of the brand-building process deals with the creation of ‘meaning’. Building a (luxury) brand is about developing brand identity.

The Business Model Canvas by Osterwalder and Pigneur (2014) is a very useful tool to think through business ideas. But entrepreneurs never just create a business – they always need to create a brand at the same time. Even more today, the symbolic meaning, brand’s purpose, and story are not just a nice add-on, but in many cases, the central idea of a new business. Building a business also means building a brand. From the customer’s point of view, a brand is not distinct from the business – they are ONE. Therefore, the Business Model Canvas was combined with a new brand identity framework into the Brand-Building Canvas (see Figure 1; Heine, 2019). It includes new brand elements and covers all aspects in the Business Model Canvas and the major brand identity frameworks. Therefore, it can be used to analyse and develop a business model and a brand’s identity. Blocks VIII (Business Process) and IX (Cashflow) are only relevant for business modeling (see Osterwalder and Pigneur, 2014).

If you focus on brand-building, you need to consider only the first seven blocks of the Brand-Building Canvas. They are arranged simply as follows: the Vision is on top (block I); the Product (business idea) is the starting point (block II); the Customers are in the centre of attention (block III); it follows the Brand Character that tells the meaning behind the product on the left (block IV); Relationships describe the mode of conduct between the brand (IV) and the customers (III) (block V); Touchpoints connect the products (II) with the customers (III) (block VI) – and all this is symbolised by Brand Expressions, placed at the bottom (block VII). Some blocks are further divided into additional brand-building elements. In total, the template consists of 14 components, which are briefly introduced below.

  Please login or register to continue reading... Registration is simple and it is free!

About the Author

Klaus Heine is Associate Professor of Luxury Marketing at Emlyon business school, Asia and Co-Director of the High-end Brand Management Master Program at Asia Europe Business School in Shanghai. He holds a PhD from TU Berlin and specialises in high-end brand-building with applied-oriented research, education and practical projects with both, leading luxury brands and start-ups.


1. Aaker, D.A. (2010), Building Strong Brands, London, Simon & Schuster.

2. De Chernatony, L. (1999), Brand Management Through Narrowing the Gap Between Brand Identity and Brand Reputation. Journal of Marketing Management, Vol. 15: 157-179.

3. Esch, F.-R. (2017), Strategie und Technik der Markenführung, 9th ed., Munich, Vahlen.

4. Heine, K. (2019) How to Build a High-end Brand. Upmarkit: Tallinn,”

5. Kapferer, J.N. (2012),.The New Strategic Brand Management, 4th ed., London, Kogan Page.

6. Keller, K. L. (2012`). Strategic Brand Management, Pearson: Edinburgh Gate, England.

7. Tait, B. (2013). The Mythic Status Brand Model: Blending Brain Science and Mythology to Create a New Brand Strategy Tool. Journal of Brand Strategy 1(4), 377-388.


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here