Think about brand names you might use to describe an entire category of products. You might refer to cola as a Coke, ask for a Kleenex instead of a tissue, or recommend that someone Google information rather than search online. Each carries the hallmarks of a strong brand identity. Successful brands consistently set themselves apart from the competition and establish their value so clearly that customers choose them over other brands. Learning about successful branding examples and how brand strategy works can help you tailor your brand to suit your target audience.
What is branding?
Branding is an exercise in distinguishing your company from competitors. It encompasses the messaging, design, and strategic communication used to create and promote your brand’s positioning in the marketplace, value proposition, and ethos. Although some may think branding is limited to visual elements like a brand’s logo and design, these are only part of the brand story. Strong branding can affect how your business makes people feel, showing potential customers how you can address their needs or solve a problem. Ultimately, strategic, consistent branding can help you communicate your brand’s unique value proposition and attract loyal customers.
6 essential elements of branding
A company’s brand assets, messaging, and promotion strategies all work together to create and foster its unique brand identity.
The logo is one part of your company’s visual identity, which can be a combination of symbols, colors, and other visual references. The logo often gives customers their first impression of what your brand does and stands for, and may be the first step when you set out to build a brand.
2. Color scheme
The psychology of color shows that colors elicit various kinds of responses. Used in tandem with your logo and across all your collateral, the colors representing your brand can communicate a powerful message.
Find your niche and define in very few words what makes your brand distinctive. If something doesn’t fit those original three words—even though you might like it—scrap it. Establish the core message, nail it, then expand.
3. Messaging and voice
Is your brand voice sophisticated, funny, academic, or cheeky? Consider what tone of voice will most resonate with your target demographic and craft guidelines that will help you maintain a consistent brand personality when building your marketing campaigns. Joey Ng of Yami, a freelance brand and growth marketing consultant, advises brands to “...find your niche and define in very few words what makes your brand distinctive. If something doesn’t fit those original three words—even though you might like it—scrap it. Establish the core message, nail it, then expand.”
4. Website design
If you think of your website as your online storefront, you can create an experience for customers that is consistent with how you’d want them to feel when entering your physical location. Ease of use, accessibility, helpfulness (in the form of informational content or a live chat contact), design sophistication—all these website design elements are extensions of your brand.
5. Product packaging
The kind and product packaging design you use communicates a lot about your brand. For instance, clearly marked compostable packaging shows that your company is concerned about sustainability. Expensive packaging communicates a high-end brand. Great packaging can help your product make a great first impression with your customer.
6. Social media
Social commerce, or the practice of selling directly from social media channels, is catching up with ecommerce growth. In 2021 alone, Americans bought approximately $37 billion in goods and services from social platforms like TikTok, Instagram, Meta, and Snapchat. In fact, social media may be the first place potential customers see your brand. A social media presence with a consistent brand identity can help you build trust and recognition—and even make sales.
3 successful branding examples
For brands to succeed, they must be able to differentiate themselves in saturated markets, create strong visual identities, and communicate their values with unique promotion strategies. Here are three brands that successfully meet that challenge:
The sneaker market is both crowded and dominated by huge brands like Nike and Adidas. However, two years after it first launched, in 2016, Allbirds sold a million pairs of shoes and became the unofficial shoe brand of Silicon Valley. How did Allbirds become a successful brand in this highly competitive space?
First, the brand differentiated itself by launching a Kickstarter campaign with a single wool sneaker. With just a few words—“The Wool Runners: No Socks. No Smell.”—it was able to establish a unique brand identity. In a saturated market full of wild colors and big logos, Allbirds conscientiously went the other way with messaging that read, “No flashy logos. No senseless details. Just the world’s most comfortable shoes, made naturally and designed practically.” With its messaging and visual identity, it was able to communicate that the brand was eco-friendly, comfortable, and streamlined.
In addition to launching with a unique value proposition, Allbirds created buzz by teasing its launch online. It enlisted brand ambassadors and content creators to promote the brand on social media. That caught the attention of the media, which latched onto its message of comfort and sustainability.
Known for its minimalist packaging and signature soft baby pink color on products and collateral, Glossier’s visual branding reinforces the idea of simplicity in beauty. Emily Weiss initially launched the brand in 2014 with a collection of four products. The product line has since grown but still focuses on a model of providing best-in-kind products that are easy to use. Weiss’s accessible “skincare first, makeup second” philosophy is reinforced by Glossier’s use of real people—not models—in advertising and other promotional efforts. The brand relies on user-generated content and social media to foster a loyal community and an emotional connection with its target audience.
Gymshark is a fitness apparel company created by a 19-year-old pizza delivery driver who saw the need to make fashionable and functional clothing more accessible to a young audience. A decade after Ben Francis started the brand, he sold a 21% stake to General Atlantic, which valued the company at more than £1 billion. Gymshark’s distinctive logo, early adoption of TikTok, and consistent use of bold colors have made it a recognizable brand in the UK and abroad.
The company was an early adopter of influencer marketing, bypassing traditional, expensive advertising channels. Sending clothing to successful athletes helped Gymshark build brand recognition and create an online community. The motto of the company is to be visionary and “bring ideas to life.” The brand reinforces this motto by associating with visionary athletes like Ross Edgley, who became the first person to swim around Great Britain.
Why product branding matters in ecommerce
Ecommerce has changed the way people shop. Online retail sales got a boost from COVID-19 pandemic shopping as an alternative to retail shopping, growing from 15% of total global retail sales in 2019 to an estimated 22% in 2022, according to Morgan Stanley. Here’s why creating and maintaining a strong brand is crucial in an increasingly crowded online marketplace:
- Increases recognition and visibility. Brand visibility is the exposure a brand has in its industry in relation to its competitors. Online retailers with strong brand identities incorporate their logo and slogan thoughtfully and use their assets and brand voice consistently in all their communication, social media networks, and advertising campaigns.
- Builds trust. According to audience measurement and analytics firm Nielsen, 85% of consumer purchases in over 80 categories involved a name they already knew, with 22% expressing anxiety about trying a new brand. Building a brand customers trust improves your bottom line, and trust is built on consistency.
- Increases perceived quality and value. A company’s brand equity is measured by its uniqueness, perceived value, and customers’ willingness to pay a premium. Research shows that customers equate consistent branding with high quality, and that perception of quality can lead to an average 33% increase in revenue.
- Develops a loyal community. Studies show that customers with an emotional relationship to a brand have a three times higher lifetime value to the brand, recommending it at a rate of 71% versus the average of 45%. Strong ecommerce branding can promote a sense of community and an emotional connection with a brand, which can drive loyalty.
- Increases recognition of your mission or ethos. Increasingly, customers want a brand’s core values to align with their own. In fact, a Harris Poll showed that 82% of shoppers want this, and three-quarters of shoppers surveyed would stop buying from a company due to a conflict of values.
Branding examples FAQ
How can social media be used for branding?
Whether you enlist the help of influencers, pay to boost your own posts, or focus on an organic approach, prioritize consistency. The more consistent your brand voice and imagery are, the more likely social media users will be to recognize your brand in their feeds.
What is the role of consistency in branding?
Shoppers equate consistency in branding with high quality and are willing to pay more for it. Consistency can also help with brand recognition. Maintaining your brand personality across all of your marketing channels can help potential customers connect the dots and keep your brand top of mind.
How do you measure success in branding?
The success of a brand strategy can be difficult to measure since a company’s bottom line is based on a variety of metrics. However, you can measure the success of your brand by using a competitive analytics tool, checking your social media for increases in followers and engagement, and using a brand tracking tool that notifies you when your brand is mentioned.