Branding seems simple enough, in theory, but building a brand that speaks to the heart of your company and has wide appeal is no easy feat. If you’re unsure how to tackle your branding, check out our latest article on the eight types of branding in marketing. Learn how they apply to you and how to use them to build a powerful brand that speaks to your target audience.
Just like companies, branding comes in all shapes and sizes. For both start-ups and well-established businesses, knowing the eight main types of branding and which work best for your company is a must. Whatever branding types you choose, remember that the best branding is earnest and genuine.
What is Branding?
In the marketing world, there are a few different terms (brand, branding, and brand identity) floating around which are often used interchangeably. Brand, brand identity, and branding are actually three distinct things, though. So, before we get into the different types of branding, let’s define all three terms.
A brand is a carefully curated persona. It’s the public face of a company. A brand is personally crafted to connect with the audience in a specific way. It encompasses your values as well as the perceptions the world has about who you are as a business.
Brand identity is the different components that set your brand apart from the rest. Fonts, logos, color palette, graphics, and the like are all aspects of brand identity. They’re the design choices you make when marketing your brand.
Last, we have branding. Branding is the effort you take to build your brand. As you develop your strategy for marketing, think about the places your brand should be seen and what that should look like. The goal of branding is to build trust with your target audience and distinguish yourself from your competitors.
There are eight types of branding strategies you should be familiar with for your business.
Every person has a personal brand, whether they’re in business or not. From the clothes you wear to the things you post on social media, personal branding is how you present yourself. And, how you present yourself matters. As a business owner, the traits and values people see in you are associated with your brand. After all, a brand starts with the owner.
Examples: Martha Stewart knows how to work personal branding. Her warm, approachable personality comes across in all that she does. She conveys that image on her website, in her product packaging, and on TV. You can trust her to give you good wholesome information and be her warm, approachable self, regardless of where she is.
Cardi B. is another example. She has a very clear, carefully built personal brand. She’s candid, focused, serious about her craft, and famous for sticking her tongue out. All of these components help build her personal branding.
Although they’re two different people with two entirely different personal branding strategies, they’re both instantly recognized and successful. The most successful entrepreneurs tie their personal branding into all of their other branding efforts.
What You Can Do
Want to make an impact with your personal branding? Consider your headshots, the images and quotes you share on social media, where you spend your time, and how you interact with others as opportunities to let people see who you really are.
Corporate branding is how a company presents itself to the public and its employees. For instance, if you’re looking to recruit people to your business, how excited would people be about it. Would there be a mad rush for applicants? If not, it could be that people aren’t familiar with your business, or maybe they’re too familiar. Corporate branding says everything about a company, like how they conduct themselves socially and professionally and how they treat their employees.
Example: Google offers their employees everything: free lunch, onsite medical care, free shuttles to and from work, paid parental leave, etc. Who wouldn’t want to work there?
What You Can Do
Consider things about your company that stand out from all the others. What is it you do for your employees, charities, etc., that deserves to be recognized by the world?
Product branding is the identity you give your product and shapes how the world sees it. There’s no sense in developing a product without also developing its brand. But, before you can do that, you have to identify who the product is for and how you want it to be perceived. That is what will point you to the other decisions you’ll make in branding your product, like the product design, the packaging, the colors, the logo, etc.
Example: Think of products you see daily that speak for themselves, like Apple and Coca-Cola. These are great examples of products that have been branded so well, they are household items. The companies were successful in establishing the perceptions they wanted the world to see in their products.
What You Can Do
- Take the time to accurately define your product. You can start by asking yourself questions like:
- Who is your ideal customer, and what do they care about?
- What are they looking for from a product like yours?
- Where does your product fit in the market?
- Where will it be seen?
- How should it look when people see it on the store shelves?
- Start with these questions and continue with more to develop the best branding for your product.
If you provide a service, think about what people want. Most of us want quick, efficient, friendly service. Then some would like to see you go above and beyond. They would like to see a little “extra effort” from your business. These extra efforts would be in the way of perks. When you provide the extra, people associate your brand as one that doesn’t mind going the extra mile to satisfy their customers.
Examples: Safe driver discounts from State Farm insurance company, free cookies at your favorite five-star hotel, the AC repair person who comes out to repair your air during 100-degree temperatures, even though you called right as the office was about to close.
What You Can Do
Consider some perks you could implement in your business through service branding that would help separate you from your competitors.
Cultural & Geographic Branding
Cultural and geographic branding is more popular in the tourism industry or any business that makes its region of origin a focal point in its branding. Cultural branding focuses on the cultural aspects of a region, while geographic branding makes the region the focal point.
Examples: Some cities have a theme associated with that area like Virginia is for lovers, or Philadelphia — the city of brotherly love. These are examples of geographic branding, while the Eiffel Tower in Paris or the French Quarters and Bourbon Street are cultural icons for New Orleans.
What Else You Can Do
Don’t know if there is a need for cultural and geographic branding in your business? Picture this, if you sell swiss watches, consider incorporating illustrations of the Alps into your website design. Now consider what your business does and if there’s a way to apply this type of branding.
If you have a physical space for your business, retail branding is a must. From the time your customer opens the door to the moment they leave, that entire experience plays a part in retail branding. From the atmosphere and ambiance to the floors and everything in between, your customer needs to have a phenomenal experience. Because so many people have taken to online shopping since the pandemic, brick-and-mortar businesses have to step up their game.
Examples: Trader Joe’s does retail branding well. They give their customers an intimate feel and create a cultural experience due to the type of food they serve. These are experiences they can’t get online.
What You Can Do
If you have a physical presence for your business, consider how you can make the experience extraordinary for your customer from the minute they open the door. Whether it be appropriate mood music or decor, find a way to stand out from your competitors.
Online branding is a bit of a catch-all — it refers to any branding that happens online. That encompasses Google ads, social media, web design, sales emails, and more. Online branding doesn’t imply that it’s only for eCommerce or not for businesses that don’t have a physical presence. If you are on social media, have online ads, do email campaigns, have a website, respond to consumer emails, etc., you need to be familiar with online branding.
Example: If you’re trying to cover multiple social media platforms, like Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn, your banding needs to be consistent across platforms. While not all platforms work the same, you can easily tweak posts to meet the minimum standards for any platform.
What You Can Do
Consider all the places your branding will appear online and make sure you’re sending consistent messaging. For companies that sell online and in-person, it’s crucial to tie your retail and online branding together. A customer should have a seamless transition from your retail store to your online storefront. Use the same colors and design in-store as you do on your website. That ties the experience together as many customers shop both online and in-store.
Offline branding is branding that happens offline. Offline branding covers things like pamphlets, manuals, mailers, pdfs, and billboards. Retail branding is also offline branding because it’s in the physical, not online.
Examples: Offline branding can be inclusive of your wardrobe when you’re meeting with clients. It can be your choice of venue when you choose to meet your client; it can even be your company car.
Like online branding, it’s vital to keep your brand identity the same across all your offline branding efforts. No matter where a potential customer first encounters your company, they should instinctively understand your brand and know it when they see it again elsewhere.
What You Can Do
Consider everything you do offline and for your brick-and-mortar offline branding. We spend so much of our time online these days that we tend to mostly focus there. Offline branding is just as important to your brand as online branding and needs just as much attention to detail.
There you have it — the eight main types of branding. Some companies use all of them, while others only use a few. Not all branding types will apply to your company.
Think about how you can express your brand through two or more types presented. Strategize over what the possibilities could be, but have fun with it. Make sure your authenticity is at the heart of all the branding you do.