Branding Examples: The Companies, Products and People You Can’t Forget
The 2019 Edelman Trust Barometer Special Report found that 81% of us will only buy from brands we know and trust. We look at some examples of standout brands and what makes them so memorable.
Here's what we will cover...
- What is a successful brand?
- The colour and the shape
- The sound of success
- What’s in a name
- Branding an experience
- The power of personality
- Is your brand adding value?
What is a successful brand?
When you think of a successful brand, what comes to mind?
From Amazon to Zappos, we can all reel off dozens of memorable international brands before breakfast. But think about it for a moment. Each one of these brands has achieved the amazing feat of lodging itself within the depths of our minds through the power of marketing.
A successful brand is a fusion of design assets and experiences which somehow ‘work’ to create positive feelings of connection and trust. While it can be tricky to tease apart the individual strands that make up a great brand, we can get some insight by focusing on those brands which have mastered certain parts of the branding process.
The colour and the shape
Branding is much more than just choosing colour themes and designing logos but some of the biggest brands on the planet have made the most of these shortcuts to the human psyche.
For example, humans respond to the colour red faster than any other hue. This was quickly grasped by the likes of Coca-Cola and Ferrari and it’s hard to imagine a future in which these brands don’t ‘bleed red’.
How about the Google primary colours? These basic colours indicate a simple learning process but is that all? For many of us, our first exposure to primary colours will have come from the safe and nurturing environment of the home (Roger Red Hat and Billy Blue Hat anybody?). Does this help us to trust Google on a deep, primal level?
Other brands are less associated with a specific colour and more linked to a shape. From the sporting world, the Nike ‘swoosh’ and the Adidas stripes are two prime examples. Then there is the Amazon curved arrow which has evolved from a way to link the letters ‘A’ to ‘Z’ into a unique smile. This symbolises the company’s range of products and quality of customer service with one genius stroke – literally!
Combine simple shapes and colours together and you get the golden arches of McDonald, the black horse of Lloyds Bank and the blue bird of Twitter.
These examples also illustrate the widespread use of animals in branding. Animals can embody specific values so we get the stable, trustworthy Lloyds horse and the free and vocal Twitter songbird. Big, powerful cats are featured in many of the world’s top brands (Puma, Jaguar, Lynx, Lion, etc.). Other animals include the hidden Toblerone bear, the Lacoste croc and the WWF panda.
The sound of success
Sounds play an important part in branding for many companies. Those of us who were around at the dawn of the mobile age will never forget the Nokia ringtone and it is interesting to note the partial recovery of that company’s brand value over recent years.
Even simple tones lasting a few seconds can trigger powerful brand recall. Would you recognise the sound of an Intel audio logo? An Apple MacBook starting up? How about someone logging into Netflix? All of these chimes are designed with brand positioning in mind.
Other examples of memorable audio in brands include the hearty laugh of the Green Giant, the thrumming THX intro created by George Lucas and the McDonalds whistle jingle.
What’s in a name
Having a memorable company and product name is an important part of branding and countless books and articles have been written on how to choose an effective name.
While there are many memorable brand names out there, a few products have become so dominant in an industry that their brand names have come to stand for an entire class of product.
Examples include Hoover and Google which have become synonymous with the vacuum cleaner and search engines respectively. Both have been immortalised in the Oxford English Dictionary as transitive verbs which means yes, you can use them in a game of Scrabble!
Few brands have achieved this level of product class identification but many are not too far off (we tend to ‘order a Domino’s’, ‘catch an Uber’ and ‘Netflix ‘n’ chill’).
While strong brand names and logos are effective vehicles for raising awareness of the existence of a product or company, a slogan can help spread the company’s values; it is like a basic elevator pitch that follows a company around wherever it goes. Marketing campaigns can then be used to embed that slogan deeper into the mind.
Some examples of memorable slogans include, ‘I’m Lovin’ It’ (McDonalds), ‘Every Little Helps’ (Tesco) and ‘Just Do It!’ (Nike). These slogans highlight the brands’ values of fun, helpfulness and action respectively.
Branding an experience
Some brands have risen to prominence for the customer service or user experience they offer. This is as much a part of a brand as its visual assets.
For example, the American shoe retailer Zappos is renowned for its dedication to customer service. This includes free shipping on all orders, a 365 day returns policy and 24/7/365 telephone support.
Other brands that are rated highly for the experiences they create include Amazon (single click ordering), McDonalds (fun for kids) and Airbnb (unforgettable adventures).
The power of personality
The same principles of corporate and product branding can also apply to people. We are currently in an era where the power of personal brands is huge and the founders of successful companies often become as recognisable as their businesses and products (e.g. Richard Branson, Steve Jobs, Mark Zuckerberg, etc.)
Personal brands can apply to individuals, couples (e.g. Brand Beckham) and even whole families (The Kardashians, The Ramsay Bunch, etc.)
Is your brand adding value?
As we said in our related article, ‘What is Branding?’ every business already has a brand. You have now seen a few examples of how some companies have smashed certain elements of the branding process. It’s now over to you to bring together those assets and experiences that will help increase your brand value.