Branding seems simple enough, in theory, but building a brand that encapsulates 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 8 types of branding. 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 8 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.
In the marketing world, there are a couple of different terms (brand, branding, and brand identity) floating around which are often interchanged. Brand, brand identity, and branding are actually three distinct things, though. For clarity, we will define them here. A brand is a carefully curated persona. It’s the public face of a company. Brand identity is the different components that set your brand apart from the rest. Fonts, logos, color choices, and the like are all aspects of brand identity. Last, we have branding. Branding is the effort you take to build your brand. There are 8 main types of branding, albeit some overlap with the others.
Every businessman or businesswoman has a personal brand. From the clothes you wear at the office to the things you post on social media, personal branding is how you present yourself. And, how you present yourself matters. For example, Martha Stewart knows how to work personal branding. Her warm, approachable (but knowledgeable) personality comes across in all that she does. When you think of Martha Stewart, you think of home (a clean, cozy home). Martha Stewart manages to convey that warm, calm vibe on her website, in her product packaging, and on T. V. The most successful entrepreneurs tie their personal branding into all of their other branding efforts.
Corporate branding is how a company presents themselves to the public and to their employees. The company insurance plan and the company’s charitable donations both fall under corporate branding. For a corporate branding example, let’s look at Toms shoes. Toms is known for giving shoes to those in need. On their website, there is an entire Impact page dedicated to their charitable causes. Users can clearly see where Toms chooses to donate their money and resources.
When someone buys Toms, they feel like they are doing more than buying a shoe. They feel like they are making a difference and supporting a brand that matters. I know I once personally bought a pair of cute dog print Toms, because the tag stated a portion of the proceeds went to the SPCA. Now, that’s some strong corporate branding.
Product branding is what it sounds like, branding a particular product or product line. The product design, the package materials, the colors, and even what you name your product are all part of product branding. The goal of product branding is to snare your target audience, so you have to know what appeals to them. Apple is a great example of stellar product branding. Any time you buy an Apple device, their logo is front and center on the box. Once you open the lid, your new tech is cleanly encased in the box. The set-up instructions are a few lines and that’s it. Every Apple product resonates with their overall brand image of crisp, clean lines and exceptional tech products that don’t require any frills or fanfare.
Service branding can be a little trickier since you’re not branding a tangible object. Examples of service branding are the mints you receive with your bill at Olive Garden or the safe driver discount from your car insurance company. When you provide these “perks,” customers respond to that extra effort. They come to expect this level of customer service. Keep in mind, a perk should always be free. Another good example of service branding is Target’s nursing rooms. Including an area specifically for moms to feed their babies reinforces Target’s brand image as a family-friendly brand. When Target first unveiled their breastfeeding rooms, some stores put signs out that informed shoppers they could nurse wherever they wanted in the store; but if they wanted privacy, the nursing room was available for their use. That statement backed up Target’s brand image as inclusive and non-judgemental.
Cultural & Geographic Branding
Cultural and geographic branding are similar, so you may see them interchangeably used. Geographic branding uses geographic landmarks. One example is Paris’ tourist industry’s use of the Eiffel Tower.
Cultural branding uses ideas or customs associated with particular cultures. Jameson Whiskey and Lucky Charms both use Irish culture for their branding. The Swiss cough drop company, Ricola, uses cultural and geographic branding in their ads. Their commercials feature earthy types and are always set in picturesque mountains reminiscent of the Swiss Alps. It’s all very Sound of Music.
The culture doesn’t have to be region specific. LuluLemon uses cultural branding to appeal to “fit culture.” Their target audience is athletes and exercisers. Hippie Farms, a supplement company, appeals to “crunchy culture.”
Retail branding is the architecture and interior design of a company’s brick and mortar store. Online shopping’s surge in popularity has put many brick and mortar stores out of business. The remaining successful ones do retail branding so well, they make customers crave the in-person experience. Effective retail branding appeals to the five senses. Costco does free food samples. High-end clothing stores play soothing music and have attendants to trail behind you in case you need assistance. The signage, the smell, the display in the window – it should all combine to give the shopper a unique experience they can’t get in any other store or online.
Online branding is a bit of a catch-all. It refers to any type of branding that happens online. This encompasses Google ads, social media, web design, sales emails, and more. Because online branding is such a wide category, it can be easy for companies to drop their brand identity somewhere along the way. For instance, if you’re trying to cover your bases on Insta, Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn, it can be easy to lose track. But, a strong brand identity is built by keeping your brand consistent across platforms. It helps to use similar, but slightly tweaked posts across all your social media accounts. Build one post template then work from there.
For those companies which sell both 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 anything that happens offline. So, retail branding and product branding nest under offline branding. Despite some blurred lines, I think offline branding deserves its own category. Offline branding covers such things as pamphlets, manuals, mailers, and billboards. 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.
To Each Their Own
These are the 8 main types of branding. Some companies use all 8 types, while others only use a few. Some types of branding won’t apply to your company. Ecommerce brands don’t need retail branding, for instance. No matter what type of branding you choose to tackle first, remember to keep your brand true to who you are as a company. To be it, you have to believe it. So, be sure you select a brand identity you can truly get behind.