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What is Product Branding and How Can Businesses Do It Right?

Want to create product branding? From benefits of product branding to product branding tips, here's everything you need to develop successful product branding. 

Posted 4 Mar 2022

Coca-cola. Sprite. Fresca. Schweppes. Four different brands, four different products, one parent company.

While they’re all sparkling soda beverages owned by the Coca-cola company, they each have a defining brand color, logo, and most importantly, brand identity. Each brand name resonates differently, brings to mind a different flavor, or evokes a memory of a specific time when you enjoyed them – and this is the power of branding. 

So how do you create distinctive product branding for your product? Whether you have one product or several, in this article, we’ll break down everything you need to develop successful product branding. 

What is Product Branding?

Product branding consists of your color palette, logo, symbol, design, and any other identifying factors that distinguish your product from others in the marketplace. You can find product branding everywhere you look, from brick and mortar stores to online shops. 

Not to be confused with company branding, which is your overall company aesthetic, product branding distinguishes your products from your competitors’ products.

5 Benefits of Product Branding

So, why bother with product branding? Surely it would be easier to simply slap your company’s logo on everything and call it a day? Well, here are five key benefits to having unique branding for each product. 

1. Makes Purchasing Decisions Easier for Customers

Product branding helps customers make quick and easy purchasing decisions in a world overflowing with multiple choices. Consider the grocery store cereal aisle. You know you want a healthy cereal, as opposed to cereal with more sugar. As you decide between Special K and Frosted Flakes – both owned by Kellogg’s – you know Special K is the healthier option from the branding alone.

Special K

The Special K cereal has a simple design and a softer color scheme. The box highlights the high amount of protein, and prominently features natural ingredients. The Frosted Flakes have a brighter color design and a famous cartoon mascot indicating an appeal to kids. 

Frosted Flakes

Though both products are from the same company, these differences highlight each brand’s offerings, making it easier for the customer to decide which works best for them. 

2. Expands Target Audience

Product branding allows you to target different submarket audiences with specific offerings that cater to other interests. Like multichannel contact centers, it covers all your bases. 

For example, Coca-cola is a globally recognized brand. Within the large audience of people who like Coca-cola, there’s people looking for a healthier option. That’s where Diet Coke – a zero-sugar version of regular Coke – comes in. It might not appeal to everyone, but the distinct branding and dedication to a particular ideal will set it apart and catch the attention of a key submarket. 

3. Ensures Separation Between Brand Reputation and Company Reputation

If your new product doesn’t quite take off as you hoped, the separation between brand and company offers a layer of protection. Separation allows your company to take risks while also ensuring any new brand has its own identity. 

Apart from protecting your company’s reputation, the separation between brand and company allows your team to think outside the box and develop products that might be seen as unconventional for your company. 

4. Saves Your Company’s Name from Branding Failure

And in case things go south for your brand? Product branding protects your company from any direct association. 

Take, for example, Coors Rocky Mountain Spring Water—never heard of it? 

Coors Spring Water

Coors’ Rocky Mountain Spring Water debuted in 1990 and quickly failed. But the Coors company is still going strong thirty years later, despite this misstep. They may have used their company name as part of the branding, but the design and identity was distinct enough from their main product line that the failure didn’t reflect back on them.

5. Provides Market Clarity for Customers

If a company presented two products under the same name, there would be plenty of customer confusion. Product branding allows a company with multiple products to differentiate between, say, laundry detergent and fruit snacks. 

5 Ways to Implement Product Branding the Right Way

So, now that we’ve determined why product branding is worthwhile, it’s time to look at how to implement it. Just like creating a brand identity, there are some key steps to follow…

1. Allocate Time to Market Research

First, you’ll want to research your competitors. Answer these questions as you dig into their offerings:

  • What audience are they targeting? Is it the same as yours? 
  • What kinds of products are they developing? How does your product differ?
  • What types of marketing tactics are they using?

Once you’ve answered these questions, determine how your product fills any gaps in the market. Instead of copying your competitor’s tactics, look for their weak points. For instance, if they use mostly word-of-mouth marketing, look into how to find affiliate marketers for your brand. If they’re everywhere on TV, try focusing on social media.

Next, you need to identify your target audience. Knowing your core buyers will help you tailor every aspect of your product branding. To research your audience, just ask them what they want. Run customer surveys, collect customer comments, and post social media polls.

Focus on determining these key aspects:

  • What are your audience’s typical characteristics?
  • What are their core values?
  • What are the main demographics?

From this, you can begin building customer profiles, as well as breaking your target audience into groups. This will allow you to tailor your messaging to each subsection.

Ideal Customer Profile

2. Choose a Powerful and Memorable Product Name

What’s in a name? Everything, actually – especially when choosing the name of a new product. Play your cards right, and you can even turn your product name into the default way people refer to an item – like a Hoover for a vacuum, or Kleenex for tissues.

Here are a few methods for choosing a memorable product name:

  • Be descriptive: choose a name that clearly states your product’s purpose or use, like Uncommon Goods, a store that caters to unique products. You might want to use geographic traits – for instance, American Airlines – or the name of a founder.
  • Choose an associative (or evocative) name: pick something that is associated with, but not descriptive of, your product. For instance, Twitter – it brings to mind ideas of speed and conversation, which are key elements of the brand.
  • Go crazy and choose a deviant name (alternatively referred to as ‘arbitrary name’) that has nothing to do with your product but is nonetheless memorable – like Amazon or Apple.
  • Neologistic (or fanciful) product names are another option. These are non-words that have no association with the product, like Starbucks.

Whatever name you land on, make sure it’s easy to remember, has a desirable association, and presents a chance to tell a story. Don’t forget to check it translates well into other languages – Clairol once tried to sell a curling iron called the ‘Mist Stick’ in Germany, only to realize that ‘mist’ meant something very different. Fancy buying a ‘Manure Stick’, anyone?

3. Invest in Brand consistency

You want your customers to associate your brand with your product. The best way to do this is to invest in brand consistency. 

Maintain your brand logo, shape, colors, messaging – anything and everything about your brand and product – across all of your marketing channels. You want to build a relationship with your customers, and uniformity is the easiest way to accomplish that.

When you’ve fine-tuned your brand, create a brand style guide to inform any decisions in the future. A brand style guide also makes it easy for team members to apply new ideas, like implementing AI in customer service or designing product giveaways, while sticking to core elements.

Here’s an example of Spotify’s brand style guide as it pertains to using their company artwork and logo:

logo guide Spotify

4. Develop a Unique and Inspiring Mission Statement

A mission statement will be the guiding light of your entire product branding, so it’s important to get it right. Don’t copy your competitors here; stay true to your values and goals when crafting your mission statement. You want to develop a statement that’s authentic to your company. 

A mission statement should clearly state what your company is and what it’s about while inspiring employees and customers. 

For example, outdoor gear company Patagonia’s mission statement is: We’re in business to save our home planet. Simple, direct, and inspiring. Their mission statement describes the key elements of their mission—you can read the complete statement here.

5. Involve Your Employees

Your employees are a valuable asset in building and selling your brand. Their ability to connect with customers and build relationships brings your brand and product to life. 

The key to training your employees in brand awareness is to hire the right people in the first place. Refer back to your mission statement and use it as a guide, and hire people who believe in the same core values and want to do work that aligns with your company’s goals. 

Once you’ve assembled your team, make sure every department and every person has information and specific guidelines about customer interactions. For instance, if you’re a content marketing provider, and a customer asks ‘what is SaaS marketing?’ whoever answers should have the response ready to go.

This is important for specific products, too – for instance, if you’re a haircare brand and you’ve just launched a new shampoo, you might get asked ‘is it vegan?’. Your team should know this, and their ability to answer quickly and accurately is a huge part of building customer confidence.

Final Thoughts

Logo, color, design – all of these are important aspects of your product branding, but they’re not the most important aspect. 

That distinction lies in your brand’s identity, brand design, consistency, and human connections. By considering all of these factors, and not just the aesthetic, you’ll create a powerful, recognizable product brand that people are sure to remember.

Guest Author: Grace Lau

Grace Lau is the Director of Growth Content at Dialpad, an AI-powered cloud communication platform and industry leader in CTI for better and easier team collaboration. She has over 10 years of experience in content writing and strategy. Currently, she is responsible for leading branded and editorial content strategies, partnering with SEO and Ops teams to build and nurture content. Here is her LinkedIn.

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