To stand out from competitors who are offering similar products and services to you, it’s necessary to use branding. Through branding, you’re able to give your company a fully-formed identity. You’ll use this brand image in all your communications, as well as packaging for products and in the delivery of services.
As there are various types of branding, you’ll need to decide which you’ll use for your business before you can even start a brand strategy.
1. Product Branding
To give a single product its own identity, you’ll need to use product branding. Take Coca-Cola, for example. Whereas the Coca-Cola Company makes a wide range of products, its signature beverage has its own branding. It is instantly recognizable for its color scheme and logo, which remind consumers of the experience of drinking the beverage.
There are a few types of product branding. You can use it for the signature offering of your company (and this doesn’t mean you will be restricted from increasing your product range in the future), to launch a new product, or for a whole line of very similar products.
2. Corporate Branding
The opposite of product branding is corporate branding. This involves creating an identify for your company as a whole, rather than for its products. To be effective, corporate branding should encompass all your company’s values, its mission, and its personality.
Corporate branding means that when you release a new product or service, loyal customers will likely want to try it. This type of branding is also useful for finding new hires: when a new position opens up at your company, candidates know they want to work for you because of your corporate image.
It is particularly important to focus on corporate branding when you first start out in business, as it will shape how your customers see all your future products and services. Marketing campaigns, sponsorships, and PR can all help.
It’s important to note that you can use product branding and corporate branding in conjunction. In fact, many businesses do this. For instance, Kellogg’s has strong product branding with Cornflakes, but its corporate branding extends into the other food items it sells.
3. Personal Branding
In some cases, you — the person — are the brand. Like with product branding, there are a few different types of personal branding. For instance, personal branding differs according to whether its for a professional (like a lawyer or freelancer), celebrity, thought leader, politician, or, more recently, influencers or internet personalities.
In all these cases, though, the concept is much the same: you create an image for yourself to give your followers a better sense of who you are. This involves highlighting aspects of your personality that would be beneficial for business.
A good example of personal branding in the business world is the author and marketing expert Neil Patel. His brand is all about him, rather than the business itself. People pay for products and services he has created because of his name. Interestingly enough, Patel actually regrets building a personal brand and wishes he’d created a corporate brand instead.
4. Geographical Branding
In the tourism industry, geographical branding is often essential. It allows a company to promote its offerings due to the unique qualities of the location. In fact, it’s not just businesses that use this type of branding: cities and even countries can also engage in geographical branding.
Whatever the case, geographical branding tends to highlight a site, traditional food, or interesting aspect of the culture to attract visitors. It’s a great technique for changing the perception of a place and bringing travelers to an area that may not be thought of as touristic.
5. Cultural Branding
Similar to geographical branding is cultural branding. Again, this is a popular type of branding for tourism companies, but it’s also useful for businesses that want to develop an image based on region. It allows companies to associate themselves with certain values related to the people or environment of their location.
6. Service Branding
With service branding, the main focus is what the company has to offer its customers. For service branding to be effective, it’s necessary to offer exceptional customer service that goes above and beyond expectations.
In fact, customer service should both add value to your offerings and be your point of differentiation. To achieve this, you give customers extras with purchases, invite top customers to special events or offer them upgrades, check in with clients who are using your service, or provide around-the-clock support.
When two or more companies join together to create a new offering, the best approach is co-branding. This takes elements of both (or all) the companies involved to develop a new image.
Combining the strengths of multiple businesses leads to a stronger brand image for the new product or service. Plus, it enables businesses to reach new audiences. After all, it’s possible that some customers have only had interactions with one of the companies before. Co-branding means consumers are more likely to both try the new offering due to existing brand loyalty and discover an affinity for the other company (or companies).
An example of co-branding is Starbucks and Dolce Gusto (a brand from Nescafé, which in itself is a brand from Nestlé). As part of the Starbucks Coffee at Home range, the two companies joined forces to create capsules for Dolce Gusto coffee machines.
8. Online Branding
Most companies partake in at least some online branding, since it’s effective and affordable for even the smallest companies. It’s particularly useful for as-yet-unknown companies that need to start developing awareness and building an audience.
Online branding usually involves a combination of a website, social media, ads, and blog posts. The content your company uses should express your brand’s personality, show users what matters to your business, and position your company as an authority in your field or niche.
9. Offline Branding
Since there’s online branding, logically there’s also offline branding. This type of branding is most important for companies that have physical interactions with clients.
Offline branding can involve a number of activities. At its simplest, it involves handing out business cards to prospects. Higher-commitment activities include holding lunches with leads and speaking at events.
Unlike many other types of branding, offline branding requires you or the spokesperson for your brand to frequently respond on the spot. For this reason, offline branding involves a great deal of planning and a clear idea of the image you want to create beforehand.
10. No-Brand Branding
Some companies have decided that the best approach is no branding at all — also called minimalist branding. These businesses market their products as generics: there are no extras, just exactly what consumers need and nothing more. The packaging, design, and color schemes are basic or neutral and prices are reasonable. This is attractive to customers who don’t want to be overwhelmed by choice.
11. Ingredient Branding
The name ingredient branding comes from the fact that this type of branding highlights a single “ingredient” of the company. This one aspect becomes the defining quality.
Some examples of ingredient branding include:
- Intel with its Intel Inside
- Many automobile companies, which tend to focus on the power of their engines
- Gasoline companies, which stand out from the competitors by highlighting the quality of their fuel
12. Activist Branding
Also called conscious branding, activist branding uses a commitment to a social issue to stress its company values. With social responsibility becoming a growing concern (in particular among younger consumers), more companies are now using this type of branding.
However, to be effective in the long term, companies need to act to back up their words. Consumers are tired of hearing promises that never come to fruition.
How to Choose the Right Type of Branding
To figure out which of the above would be best for your company, you need to think about what kind of image you want to create. This consists of three things:
- Identity — Think about the words you would use to describe your brand and what characteristics mean you stand out from the competition. Also define your core values and mission, including how you want to make a difference in your niche and why you decided to form your business in the first place.
- Objectives — There may be some overlap in identity and objectives. All the same, it’s a good idea to come up with a few key objectives that will help you reach your ultimate goals. Then, you can identify the right type of branding to reach these objectives.
- Audience — Branding is not just about you: it’s also about what your audience wants. Bear your target customers’ interests and demographics in mind when choosing the right type of branding.
You can use any of the above types of branding in marketing to tell customers what to think of your business — from their very first encounter — and to build a sense of belonging that leads to brand loyalty. For the best results, you’ll most likely need to combine several of the above.