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It’s not uncommon that a product is more renowned and recognizable than the company owning it. Certain products can make quite big names for themselves, becoming their own brands. That’s the wizardry of product branding.
With a little observation, you’ll come to find that businesses are not just trying to sell a product or service but also the story behind it. Take Coca-Cola, for example — the company has run insanely successful marketing campaigns with slogans like “Open Happiness” and “Taste the Feeling.” It didn’t take long for their customers (and the entire world) to associate the soft drink with a sense of happiness and optimism.
Inject a story and emotion into your product, and suddenly, the inanimate object comes alive and acquires an unmistakable personality. The world’s leading companies have managed to build a firm connection with consumers through smart product branding, and so can you. A strong brand strategy is the backbone of your business that will hold it together through any turmoil and challenge.
In this article, we’ll sink deeper into what product branding is, how to put it into action, and top product branding examples. Ready? Let’s dive right in!
Let us first understand what branding is and what it entails. Branding is the practice of separating one business (or product/service) from another through a symbol, name, design, voice, etc. All these elements combine to shape a specific brand personality and image.
Now, product branding is responsible for distinguishing one product from another. Just like companies have unique identities and personality traits, so can individual products. Branding your product will not only set it apart from competitors but also help to differentiate one line of product from another.
For example, if your apparel company sells clothing both for boys and girls, you might choose to market the two product lines differently based on your target audience’s preferences. One traditional way of doing so is color-coding the lines with blue and pink.
Product branding boils down to one simple question — how is your product different from all the rest? In other words, why should a customer choose your product over another?
If your offering doesn’t have distinct characteristics to set it apart from thousands, perhaps, millions of others, it’s sure to get lost in an ocean of similar products. This can easily be avoided, though, if the product is backed up by a relatable story, a cool design, or a positive reputation.
Why do so many athletes and sports enthusiasts develop loyalty to Nike or Adidas, even though there is no shortage of smaller activewear brands that deliver just as much quality? The short answer is reputation.
The long answer is that the two sportswear leaders have proven to be reliable and unfailing time and time again. Each product those companies release is automatically associated with prime quality and trustworthiness. While other brands can compete with Nike and Adidas in terms of product quality, they can hardly compete with product branding and reputation.
Hopefully, now you have a clearer idea of what product branding is. The next step on our journey is to explore how you can efficiently brand your products. Let’s jump right in.
All great things begin with research. Knowing the ins and outs of the market your product is going to compete in will save you valuable time, effort, and money. Study your industry at large to get a full picture of where your market stands and what excess or insufficiency it has.
Also, don’t forget to go niche. Get as specific and narrow as you can to find out how your niche industry operates, what trends and tendencies it has, etc.
Running close research on your niche market will allow you to identify your immediate competitors. Examine their strengths and weaknesses, the branding tactics they employ, the emotional triggers they try to target, and of course, how their products are different from yours.
Thorough competitor research will help you gain new insights into your market and discover opportunities you might have missed. Know thy competitors!
Lastly, your research should include your target audience. Who is your product intended for? What preferences do they have? How will your product improve their lives? Pick the demographic you want to attract and study it. Break down your audience’s backgrounds, interests, expectations, needs, pain points, and so on.
Construct your buyer persona and focus all your energy and effort on winning them over. Remember the unwritten rule: If you try to appeal to everyone, you end up appealing to no one.
Once you have a deep enough understanding of your market, competitors, and target audience, it’s time to divert your attention inward. The self-assessment stage is all about determining where exactly your business and products stand. What gaps are you looking to fill? What do you deliver that your competitors don’t? How do you want your ideal customer to see you?
Getting much-needed answers to these questions will bring you a step closer to favorable brand positioning. Develop your mission statement if you haven’t already. Pinpoint your product’s main purpose and have it reflected in every aspect of product design and marketing.
Clearly define your promise to your customers. No one will put their faith (and dollar) in a business that makes vague and obscure promises.
Once you have your mission statement and value proposition pinned down, you’ll need to communicate them to your customers through an effective brand strategy.
Now for the fun part — shaping the product. The design of your product is responsible not only for your product’s physical appeal but also for conveying the right message to your audience. From the name of your product to its packaging, every detail has to be in place. Let’s have a rundown of the most eminent elements of product design.
To start with, let’s address the name of your product. Some products carry the name of the company, while others go under a completely different name.
Take a look at Apple products, for example — iPhone, iPad, iPod, etc. The names are unique yet similar enough to show they belong to the same company. Consider whether you want to brand your product under your business name or create a new one that will better characterize your product.
The same goes for the logo of your product. A strong logo will become the face of your business and silently communicate your values. Whether you choose to go with a graphic or wordmark logo, make sure it’s reflective of your brand mission. As far as design goes, keep it clean and uncluttered to avoid distracting the viewer from your main message.
Your logo, along with all your brand assets, should incorporate your brand’s signature colors. Colors are responsible for summoning specific associations and responses.
Take your time picking your brand hues, and once you do, make sure they are ever-present in your logo, website, product packaging, online and offline ads, and so on. Color is the quickest way to make your desired impression on an audience.
You can use mockups to preview your brand designs on different items and make sure every detail is in its perfect place.
Last but not least, choose an appropriate slogan for your product. Unlike a tagline, a slogan can be entirely dedicated to a specific product. Choose a punchy line that best represents your offering and use it to power up your ad campaigns.
As all the components mentioned above shape your brand, they should be coherent not only with each other but also with your overall brand voice and identity.
Whether it’s good news or bad, the only way to build a strong brand image in your audience’s minds is to use your signature brand elements consistently across all platforms. Be it a video ad on Instagram or a flyer you hand out at an event, any promo material you create and distribute has to be congruent with your brand visuals and messaging.
Brand consistency brings product awareness. When a customer sees your slogan next to your product every time they come into contact with the latter, the next time they see or hear the catchphrase, they’ll automatically think of your product.
Consistency creates familiarity; and people like things that feel familiar. Staying persistent with your style and tone of voice both online and offline will establish you as a credible business. At the end of the day, if you want others to stay loyal to your brand, so should you.
Successful branding doesn’t happen overnight. It’s a winding process of trial and error. Mistakes are inevitable, but learning to maneuver them smartly will be your ticket to success. Studying examples of companies that have excelled at branding their products will act as a catalyst for your own branding success.
Take a look at some of the products owned by PepsiCo. How many of them did you recognize at first glance? Did you know they all belonged to the same company? Each one of the items is a well-established brand in and of itself. Most people are unaware that the products are parented by the same organization, and that’s exactly what makes this a prime example of product branding.
Primarily known for its chocolate and confectionery, Nestlé has been branching out into more nutritious products. Notice how the Swiss company smartly modifies its name to mark and market different lines of products — Nescafé for the instant coffee and Nesquik for the quick breakfast cereal and chocolate drink.
The upbeat, cheerful energy is consistent across Nestlé’s product packaging, commercials, and social media channels. It’s also perfectly in line with the company’s core belief that food is to be enjoyed.
You don’t need to see the iconic bitten apple to recognize an Apple product instantly. Minimal, modern, simple — these words apply to everything Apple-related. The tech company confirms its devotion to simplicity and innovation through every product and social media post.
Apple’s modest yet elegant aesthetic, revolutionary products, and daring company spirit fuse perfectly to create a strong brand that the whole world admires.
Product branding is the process of transforming a nameless, generic product into one that has a message, style, and personality. Taking a look at the most influential businesses, you’ll see that each of their products has a unique story or emotion attached to it. Often, what drives consumers to make a purchase is not the product itself but the idea behind it.
Effective product branding starts with thoroughly researching the market, competitors, and target audience. The acquired info will help you assess and define your own brand. Once you know where you are, where you want to be, and how you want to get there, you can start building your product brand. Pay attention to its name, logo, slogan, and colors.
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