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What Is Product Branding? Steps And Examples

what-is-product-branding?-steps-and-examples
What Is Product Branding? Steps And Examples

Retailers create the logo, packaging, and messaging used when talking about a specific product their store sells.

But, without a strong brand behind your product, there’s little to compel a buyer to choose it over another option. And with so many comparable options in most industries today, branding is more important than ever.

Product branding gives the items in your store an identity within the marketplace. Do it well and your products will stand out against what a competitor offers and engender the kind of customer loyalty that pulls customers into your brick-and-mortar store—even when it’s just easier to grab something online.

So, how do you make your products stand out in a sea of sameness? This guide shares important things to consider in your product branding strategy and provides examples of five recognizable products that became wildly successful due to strong branding.

What is product branding?

Product branding is the process of creating a brand for a standalone product. This type of strategy gives a product its own identity.

People know what to expect when they purchase a product, even if they haven’t had their own relationship with it yet. Shoppers buy into the brand of a product—including the “feel” it gives off—and consider that when searching for new items.

Science proves that most purchasing decisions are emotional. Product branding helps retailers create emotional connections that direct potential customers toward a sale.

Corporate branding vs. product branding

A strong retail brand identity leads to a strong impression on consumers. Your brand identity defines not only what your brand is but also every single interaction a customer has with it, both online and in-store.

A company’s brand image—including values, brand story, visual identity, and tagline—has a major impact on consumers. But products can have their own identities, too.

Product branding is when marketers introduce a product to the public with its own unique identity. This can be with the product name, logo, design—any aspect of the product that differentiates itself from all else.

In such cases, the parent company (the corporate brand) becomes obsolete, while the product identity becomes more significant. In a sense, these branded products can be considered mini-brands or extensions of the parent company.

Product branding emphasizes the commodity rather than the umbrella of the brand under which it exists. It’s a strategic tactic retailers can take if they have a product that fits the bill: it’s noteworthy and significant, or one of a few products in a line. If your business has a ton of dime-a-dozen products, it’s likely not worth the effort.

Elements of product branding

Interestingly, color is noted as one of the most important elements of branding. The science behind it shows colors impact our behavior, mood, and stress levels.

Truth is, product branding is not about any one thing. The whole creates something bigger than the sum of the parts. The product’s identity is built with numerous components, each of which comes together to create an emotional connection for the customer. That includes:

If product branding seems a bit difficult to define, that’s because it truly is. Branding is all about combining various aspects of your products (and store as a whole) to influence how shoppers feel.

Successful product branding is heavily influenced by the expectations you set in consumers through components of your products—and whether or not you meet them.

The importance of product branding

Target a submarket

Your target market is the group of people most likely to buy the products you sell. Fine tune your branding materials to reflect their own beliefs, values, and interests to reach and engage them.

But instead of taking a company-wide approach to attracting your target market, go granular. Break your target market down into submarkets—smaller, more specific groups of people most likely to buy each individual product.

If you’re targeting Gen Z customers, for example, sustainability-related messaging is high on your priority list when branding new products. It’s something that demographic is known to prioritize when searching for new brands to support, spending 10% more on sustainable items.

Clearly understanding the positioning of the product’s brand will allow you to properly place and promote the product in front of your target audience.

McDonald’s shows how these product brands differ by submarkets. Its entire target market is adults who need a fast, cheap meal. Its Happy Meal products, however, are created for children. The marketing strategy, product packaging, and value proposition (free toy) for those products are entirely different from its other meals.

Photograph of McDonald’s Happy Meal sitting on a table
Today

Build an emotional connection

As many as 86% of buying choices are influenced by an average of just ten emotional needs. Your customers are people, and people are emotional beings. You need to do more than just appeal to logic—you need to create emotional connections. Product branding is the perfect vehicle to do just that.

Research has also found that when consumers feel brands and products meet their emotional needs, they’re more likely to become repeat customers. This even inspires word-of-mouth marketing as they share their experiences with friends and family.

When you have a strong product branding strategy, you give your audience more opportunities to develop emotional connections. You can tell the story of your brand and your product and how it enhances customers’ lives.

Improve brand recognition

Brand recognition is how consumers identify your brand through visual or auditory cues. These include your branding elements—logo, color scheme, catchy slogan or jingle, brand name, and brand voice.

Product branding ensures consistency, and consistency is essential for building brand awareness. The more consistent your messaging and visuals are, the more they’ll resonate with your audience—and they’ll more easily be able to recognize your brand the more they see. Plus, you’ll control this narrative.

Solidify your value proposition

Recognizable products stand out on shelves, which is important if you’re partnering with other stores, such as supermarkets or grocery stores.

Take the toothpaste industry, for example. Manufacturers fight to get their products stocked in supermarkets. But when they get there, they’re competing against other brands on the shelf. The formulas of each toothpaste don’t vary dramatically.

A strong product brand makes people consider your options over the competition. They know that your toothpaste is recommended by dentists and appears in their Instagram feed often, and friends have told them it actually tastes nice. Those three product branding components work together, so your value proposition becomes a major accelerator in driving revenue.

Effective product branding ensures that your offering stands out from competitors’ similar products and grabs the attention of your audience with a unique identity.

Build product loyalty

As you know, product branding relies heavily on the impression you give to a customer, and whether the experience they have when they purchase delivers on it. Get this right and you’ll convince them to stick around.

People enjoy telling others about their favorite brands. People wear brands, eat brands, listen to brands, and are always telling others about the brands they love. On the other hand, you can’t tell someone about a brand you don’t remember.

How to build a product branding strategy

Ready to build a new identity for your inventory? Whether it’s a new product or you’re undergoing a rebrand, this branding process will help them better connect with customers, leaving them with positive feelings about what you sell.

1. Do your research

Before you start contacting designers and asking them to create some fancy new logos for your product lines, take a step back. Research comes first. Two of the most important things to identify are your audience and competition.

Once you know those two insights, you can create a branding strategy that addresses what your target audience wants, delivers where your competitors fall short, and then focuses on both those elements in your promotions and product identity.

Go out and interview customers, talk to shoppers, and get feedback from the market. You might also need to carefully consider the why behind what you offer and who you want to sell to. Answer questions like:

  • What are the values and beliefs of my business?
  • What is the purpose of my products?
  • Who am I trying to serve and why?
  • What does my ideal customer think about the world? What are their tastes and preferences? What would make them feel seen, valued, and cared for? How can I connect with them on a deep emotional level?
  • What promise does my product deliver to customers, and does it deliver?
  • How do people see my business and product line right now?
  • How do I want people to see my business and products moving forward?

These questions will help you narrow down a few essentials that can inform the specific message and feeling you want your product branding to convey—critical information to know before you start making decisions about visual brand identity.

2. Add your brand’s personality

Your brand personality should mesh well with your product branding. It’s important to maintain a healthy balance and representation of both. Remember, your product brand is sort of a sub-brand of your overall business’s brand. So, it needs to support this overall vision.

Incorporating your brand personality involves considering your brand attributes and traits. This includes your overarching brand voice, visual aesthetic, and even marketing approach. It should align with your company’s core values, your target audience, and your style guide.

3. Be consistent with a style guide

Product branding requires you to stay consistent with images, design, quality, and messaging across the board. Retailers often aim high when it comes to branding but fall short due to a lack of consistency.

From in-store marketing to ecommerce marketing to social media efforts and email blasts, consistency is key to keeping your audience both engaged and connected to your brand messaging.

A style guide is a great tool to ensure consistency. Take the following steps to create a cohesive brand across your store so different products don’t clash with each other (even when they’re not the exact same item):

  • Establish a clear brand message that every product must convey.
  • Designate color palettes for your designs.
  • Create a style guide to clearly list out what your brand voice and tone are (with guidance on how to follow both).

4. Get your team involved

If your products can create emotional ties with your customers, imagine the wonders your human team can pull off if they’re empowered to support your branding efforts.

Train retail staff on more than just operating your point-of-sale (POS) system. Give them the resources they need to forge emotional connections with every shopper they interact with.

Your employees are your most powerful brand-building resource. They influence brand perceptions and preferences far more than any marketing you do, so make sure they embrace your brand and reinforce it in every customer interaction.

This means including your business’ philosophies, values, and missions in their toolkit. Do they understand your biggest goals as a retailer? Do they know what message you want your store and products to send?

Give them this information and allow them to act on it, too. Provide guidelines for customer interactions that reflect the kind of brand personality you want to project to anyone visiting your store.

5 successful product branding examples

Apple

Ask people to describe how they interpret an Apple product and you’ll likely hear phrases like “secure,” “expensive,” and “technologically advanced” as common responses. That’s the brand Apple has built around its products—a strategy that makes it the most valuable brand in the world.

Apple’s entire product marketing strategy revolves around being technologically advanced, friendly, and secure. That’s why you’ll find in-store classes that teach shoppers how to take photos, record videos, and code. (You guessed it: each of those activities involves an Apple product.)

Allbirds

If you’re looking for an example of a brand that has gone all-in on the sustainability trend, look no further than footwear retailer Allbirds.

Allbirds is a direct-to-consumer success story, upending the shoe industry with sustainable materials. The company’s mission not only fuels innovation but also strong and effective product branding. Allbirds sneakers are synonymous with sustainable footwear. While sales grow, its carbon footprint shrinks.

Its retail stores also support the product branding. Sustainable, clean, functional, and approachable are all words that come to mind.

Allbirds Chicago Lincoln Park location has a similar design to its other retail stores, creating a consistent and familiar experience for shoppers regardless of where they’re at. (Source)
Photo of Allbirds Chicago retail store

Grind Coffee

Grind Coffee got its humble start with a just single brick-and-mortar coffee shop in London. After experiencing retail success, it set its sights on expansion by offering products for sale online. Those products? Coffee pods.

The coffee pod product branding was built off the back of the successful Grind Coffee parent brand. The Grind pods available for sale lean on the branding of the parent company, tapping into the story of its coffee shop. You can see this reflected on its website, which gives nod to its London operations.

Screenshot of Grind coffee pods website promo

Its fun, cheeky personality is mirrored both online and in person. Grind even has a human dressed up as coffee to promote its coffee shop and reinforce its product branding.

 

 

Triangl

Triangl is an Australia-based swimwear brand with excellent product branding. Founded in 2013, it’s now a thriving ecommerce brand with an actively engaged audience. The catch? You can only buy Triangl products from its website.

Triangl invested heavily in influencers to build awareness and help tell its story. Through these product branding initiatives, it carved out its corner in the swimsuit industry. It’s all about fun, bright, happy, and stylish bikinis—and you can see this product branding throughout its website and social media.

Gymshark

Gymshark is all about empowering athletes and people who do conditioning training. It sells high-quality workout and training apparel to meet its target customers’ needs. Though it started online in 2012, it has since expanded into retail operations—creating another avenue through which to share its product branding.

Ten years after it launched online, Gymshark opened a retail location in London. Here, customers can deeply engage with the brand and the products. They can even customize products to their own unique needs—further supporting the story that Gymshark helps people train better.

Nail the branding of your own products

Don’t shrug product branding off your to-do list if your company, as a whole, already has a notable brand. By giving personality and identity to each product in your catalog, potential customers form emotional ties with them. It’s those attachments that drive sales in a world where every product looks the same.

Product branding FAQ

What is the meaning of product branding?

Product branding is the process of creating a brand for a standalone product. This type of brand strategy gives a product its own identity.

What is the main purpose of branding a product?

The main purpose of branding a product is to drive sales. Essentially, branding a product allows merchants to promote it in creative and effective ways to specific target audiences.

What is an example of a product brand?

An example of a product brand is Allbirds, which sells sustainable sneakers and footwear. Other examples include Warby Parker glasses, Triangl swimwear, and Grind Coffee cafe and coffee pods.

What are the 4 steps of product branding?

  • Awareness
  • Association
  • Differentiation
  • Allegiance

 

This article originally appeared on Shopify Retail Blog and is available here for further discovery.
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