The Complete Guide to Product Branding in 2024

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When it comes to branding, you need to split your brain into two and think about your overall brand identity as well as the brand identities of your individual products. An overarching brand identity isn’t enough to help sell your products. 

Product branding is a crucial aspect of a company’s marketing efforts and has a profound impact on a product’s success and the company’s overall reputation. Here’s a look at what product branding entails, how to go about it, and three real-life examples to serve as design inspiration. 

What Is Product Branding?

Product branding is the process of creating a unique, new identity and value proposition for a single product. This way, the product can stand out from other products in the brand’s range as well as similar products offered by competitors. It typically focuses on three key areas:  distinctive design, messaging, and strategy. 

Effective product branding not only sparks product recognition, but also builds customer loyalty. It encapsulates the product’s benefits, quality, and the ethos of the company behind it. It’s the embodiment of the product’s personality. 

It also serves as a promise to consumers that they can expect a consistent experience with each interaction. You see, before customers have had first-hand experience using the product, product branding creates a certain expectation. This helps them to connect on an emotional level with the product. This is key. 

Zhecho Dobrev, author of The Big Miss: How Organizations Overlook the Value of Emotions and principal consultant at Beyond Philosophy, interviewed thousands of customers in the United Kingdom and the United States and found that emotional connection was the main driver of value. It accounts for more than 40% of business value.

Emotional connection is the biggest driver of value and more important than promoting product features. It’s responsible for about 43% of business value.

The Difference Between Corporate Branding vs Product Branding

Corporate branding communicates the values of the company, its backstory, culture, and overarching visual identity. It’s concerned with the reputation of the company as a whole within the market and society, impacting all its products and services by association. Compared to product branding, it takes a more expansive approach as it needs to include the whole company and its product range. 

Product branding, on the other hand, zooms in on a specific, standalone product of the brand. It aims to highlight the features, benefits, and unique selling propositions of a specific product line. 

This type of branding connects a product with the end user. While it can be influenced by the overarching corporate brand, it often targets more segmented markets or consumer needs and has a separate visual identity. 

It’s often necessary when a brand has multiple products, each with a unique identity of its own. Aside from helping you to set it apart from the brand’s other products, product branding is also used to distinguish it from competitors’ products that fall into the same category. 

Take Nestlé, for example. From cereal to chocolate to coffee to cat food, there’s a long list of products that fall under the corporation’s umbrella. 

Nescafe

For example, Smarties, one of Nestlé’s many products, has evolved into a mini brand of its own. In fact, you probably didn’t even know that Smarties is a Nestlé product. It’s a good example of where the product branding is more effective than its corporate branding.   

Benefits of Product Branding

A product branding company can help you in more ways than one. Here’s how:

Easier product identification

When that chocolate craving calls, you need to get your hands on your favourite chocolate bar before you reach the hangry” stage. If that’s Cadbury, you’re in luck. Cadbury’s very specific shade of purple is one of the best examples of how effective product branding improves product identification. 

Aside from colour, there are various other visual elements like logo, font choice, and imagery that work together to forge a unique product identity. When your branding is cohesive and impactful, just a glance can be enough for a customer to recognise it, whether that’s on a physical or digital shelf.  

Cadbury

Improved credibility

Not only does effective product branding make it easier to spot your product on the shelf in a glance, but people will also have an easier time remembering it (and not just for its appearance). The benefit of this is that if you want to add another product to your range or introduce a completely different range altogether, you can draw upon your other products’ names. 

Let’s take the Cadbury example again. Even if you’re more of a chocolate person, thanks to Cadbury’s job that they’ve done brading their chocolates, you’ll be more inclined to try their biscuit range.

Better targeting

A product branding strategy can also help you to target a specific group within your bigger target market. For example, the Coca-Cola company (one of the best product branding examples which will be explored in more detail later) has a wide range of beverages that appeal to different tastes quite literally. For example, to market Appletiser, they’ll target a smaller, more specific group of consumers who prefer a more “natural-tasting” soda. On the other hand, beverages like Fanta and Coca-Cola have a more mainstream appeal. 

Customer loyalty

One of the most significant advantages of solid product branding is the development of customer loyalty. When consumers repeatedly buy your product, it’s not just because they need what you’re selling necessarily; it’s because they trust your brand to meet their needs consistently. Good branding embodies the promise of quality and reliability that customers come to depend on.

In fact, it might even make it more difficult for other brands to enter your market. If there’s already a clear chocolate favourite, you need to offer something extra special to compete. 

Key Elements of Product Branding

There’s a number of elements that work together to create a memorable, cohesive product brand. These include:

  • Colour
  • Logo 
  • Name
  • Brand voice
  • Product description
  • General messaging
  • Packaging design

Together, these elements help potential customers to connect with the product. It impacts how they feel about your product.

Colour, in particular, deserves special mention, though. Aside from helping with product recognition, it also stirs specific emotion. 

For example, the colour purple has strong links to royalty and sophistication. No wonder Cadbury fought so hard to get its iconic purple (Pantone 2685C to be precise) trademarked.  

It entails quite a lot of work and thought, so paying for a branding package that will include all these elements is a logical step for many companies. Plus, as your logo needs to match the other important product branding components, it makes sense to get it designed all in one go.  

Branding Services for Busy and Growing Brands
There are many elements involved in product branding. It can quickly become a complex task for something that’s more effective when it’s actually simplified. Like design, we believe that pricing is also best kept simple. To do that, Duck.Design offers a fixed monthly rate with no hidden costs. Our designers can help with graphic design, logo design, print, illustrations, packaging design and a whole lot more.
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How to Develop a Successful Product Branding Strategy

Effective product branding strategies start with research. Here’s the information you’ll need and how to apply that.

Conduct market research

Before you can build product brands that speak to your audience, you first need to understand who they are and what they want. Yes, it sounds like a cliché, but your target market will drive countless decisions as is with most other business operations.  

Conducting thorough market research provides insights into your customers’ preferences, behaviour, values, and pain points. This information will serve as the foundation of your branding strategy.

You can use surveys, focus groups, and social media analytics to gather this data. 

Using this information, you can also start to draw the connections between your company’s values, your product’s goals and promises and your target audience’s needs. 

If you’re busy doing a rebranding, you’ll also need to go back to the drawing board. In this case, you can also focus on how your target audience currently sees your brand and its products. How does that differ from how you want to be seen?

Research competitors

Understanding your competition is just as important as understanding your customers. After all, you need to know who you’re up against.

Take a close look at your competitors’ branding efforts — their strengths, weaknesses, and market positions. 

Analyse their visual identity, messaging, and customer engagement strategies

What works for them? What doesn’t? 

Even though something works for them, you don’t necessarily want to copy their recipe. After all, one of the main reasons for product branding is so that your product stands out, right? 

It’s also key to dig deeper and analyse customer sentiment. Any negative sentiment is an opportunity to encourage your competitors’ customers to try out your product (and hopefully switch permanently). Whether it’s pricing, quality, size, or availability, there are various ways how your product can outshine others. 

Identify industry trends

When doing research, look beyond your target audience’s needs and what competitors are doing to identify industry trends. You want to design a product that’s relevant. 

What are the latest trends within your industry? Is there a shift towards eco-friendly packaging? Are consumers looking for tech integration in traditional products? Are they favouring vegan options?

By tracking trends, you can anticipate market shifts and innovate your products and branding strategy accordingly, keeping your brand relevant.

Back to that chocolate example. The global vegan chocolate market is predicted to grow at a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 12.4% to reach more than $3 billion by the end of 2030. So, if you’re in this niche, introducing a vegan option, like Lindt has done a few years ago, will be a smart move. 

Craft a personality for your product

It’s only after you’ve researched your target audience, competitors, and industry trends that you can start with the actual branding process. All the data that you’ve collected will inform your product branding strategy. 

Back to the example of chocolate. Certain chocolates you give to your toddler, others are best reserved for your Valentine. And, price isn’t necessarily the reason. 

Whether it’s playful chocolate coated candy or romantic chocolate hearts, the brand personality will influence everything from your marketing messages to packaging design.

Get your team onboard

Branding isn’t a one-person job. It should be embraced by everyone in your company. 

Ensure your team understands the branding strategy and how it translates into their daily work. Whether it’s the copywriter writing a script for a video or graphic designer choosing a colour scheme for a social media post, all the employees must be familiar with the key elements and how to apply it. 

On a related side note, if you outsource graphic design or some of the other related services, ensure that the company is also on the same page. That’s why it’s so important to create a style guide. It’s easy to share with independent service providers, like package design companies, or your own in-house employees. Plus, if you need to onboard new team members, you’ll have a comprehensive document explaining your branding efforts. 

In your style guide, you’ll share more details about elements like:

  • Brand voice
  • Colour schemes
  • Product photos and/or images
  • Fonts
  • Logo usage
  • Mission statement
  • Core values 
Keep Employees On-brand With a Style Guide
Aside from designing all the different branding materials needed to communicate your brand message, Duck.Design also creates style guides and templates to keep your team on-brand and onboard. Your new style guide will include colours, typography, details about logo usage, etc. It’s just one of the ways that we try to simplify the product branding process.
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In fact, communicating your product identity doesn’t only fall on your marketing team. You can even train your sales team on how to communicate the essence of your branded products. If it’s all about connecting with potential customers on an emotional level, it makes sense to introduce a human aspect too. It can even be pulled all the way through to after sales, using your customer service team to continue the product messaging.    

Apply your branding consistently across various channels

Another true cliché when it comes to product branding is that consistency is key. According to the Marq State of Brand Consistency report, brand consistency can contribute between 10% and 20% of revenue growth (if not more). In fact, a third has enjoyed growth of more than 20%.

how much has brand consistency contributed to your revenue growth

Source: info.marq.com

33% of brands feel that brand consistency has a substantial positive impact on revenue growth. 

The first time that customers will meet your product won’t be when they see it on the shelf. There are various other touchpoints leading up to checkout. Your logo, colour schemes, tone, and overall look and feel should be uniform, whether on your website, social media profiles, product packaging, or printed materials. 

Put simply, it’s only as strong as it’s applied consistently. 

If you use a playful tone to share your brand story on the product packaging, but a formal one in your printed ads, it will confuse potential customers. Are they dealing with the same brand now? Is that advertised special really for your product?

This is another reason why it’s so important that everyone on your team knows the product identity inside out. If they don’t feel connected to your product brands, how will your target audience?

Examples of Great Product Branding

Here are three great product branding examples to show you the potential of what you can achieve:

Apple

Apple has one of the best product branding strategies. It has helped them to become the largest company in the world by market capitalization in 2023 and synonymous with design and innovation. Apple’s focus on sleek, minimalist design is as much a part of its brand as the logo, fonts, and other product branding elements. 

Apple branding elements

The secret to Apple’s overwhelming success isn’t just in the groundbreaking nature of products like the iPhone, iPod, MacBook, and iMac, but also in how Apple has branded these products to become not just tools or gadgets, but integral components of modern life. Apple’s marketing strategies masterfully evoke emotions, making consumers feel as though they aren’t just buying a gadget but are buying into a lifestyle. By focusing on the experience of using Apple products, rather than just their specifications, Apple ads and presentations create a narrative that users want to be part of.

The brand continuously creates campaigns to zoom in on each of these specific products, highlighting the new features and how these will solve pain points. Each product also fits into overall corporate branding, embodying its bigger mission and values.

You just need to look at the excitement before a new iPhone gets launched to know that Apple’s product branding is something special. It’s an event that gets added to the calendar. In fact, customers are willing to camp out in front of Apple stores before a launch. 

While Apple’s product branding is massive, its secret lies in the simplicity. From the actual product design to marketing, clarity is favoured over complexity.

The different product names – iPhone, iPod, MacBook, and iMac – themselves are a lesson in product branding brilliance. These are easily recognizable, easy to remember, and with the iconic lowercase “i” prefix signalling a personal connection to the digital world. 

While each Apple product is easily distinguishable, the seamless integration between iPhone, iPad, MacBook, and iMac enhances the functionality of each product. This, in return, encourages brand loyalty as users find it beneficial to invest in multiple Apple products to make their daily operations smooth and interconnected.

Coca-Cola

Coca-Cola is the favourite drink of many and much of that can be attributed to their corporate brand. What makes their story even more impressive is that they’ve sustained it over decades and to this day continue to grow. In 2023, the Coca-Cola brand was valued at just over $106 billion, an increase of 8% compared to the year before.  

All in all, it’s a great example of product branding that’s applied consistently. Not only are we enjoying the same distinctive taste that’s impossible to mistake for anything else, but its striking visual identity has remained mostly unchanged. Its distinctive logo and classic bottle design are clear examples. 

What’s more, they’ve also extended this consistency to its marketing campaigns, which have consistently emphasised themes of happiness, togetherness, and refreshment. It has become more than just a beverage; it’s a symbol of familiar comfort across cultures.

Campaigns like “Share a Coke” tapped into the personal and inclusive aspects of the brand, encouraging people to find bottles with their names or those of their friends and family. By personalising the Coca-Cola experience, the company has transformed its product from a mere refreshment into a vehicle for personal expression and connection.

Despite its age, Coca-Cola has remained relevant by innovating within its brand. It has expanded its product line to include diet options and flavoured varieties to cater to shifting consumer tastes and health trends. 

Coca-Cola has adeptly used its rich heritage to its advantage, positioning itself as a timeless classic while still being modern and dynamic. The company often nods to its history in its advertising, reinforcing its place as a longstanding beverage favourite.

Coca Cola

McDonald’s

If you hear the phrase “Happy Meal”, you know exactly what’s for dinner. Without any reference to the brand name, McDonald’s has managed to create a product so strong that’s easily recognisable across the world. 

McDonald’s

It’s Big Mac is an equally big cultural phenomenon. It’s even been used as a way to explain difficult concepts like purchase power.  

It’s another product branding example of why getting the basics, like colour scheme and logo usage, correct consistently is essential. The red-and-yellow colour scheme has been imprinted in the minds of young and old consumers worldwide. The brand’s focus on maintaining visual consistency across all its advertising and packaging has built a strong association with reliability. 

Consistency, though, isn’t just about standardising the logo and colour scheme. It’s just as much about ensuring a consistent brand experience. From the taste of a cheeseburger in Los Angeles to the same fast service at a drive-thru in South Africa, McDonald’s has created a universal language of convenience and comfort.

Highlight Your Product’s Individuality with Duck.Design: Unique Branding Approach!

You’ve designed your product not only to make money, but to fill a void. 

Perhaps you couldn’t find a plant-based hamburger? Maybe you thought that a milkshake that’s slightly less sweet would be a sweet treat? 

You can’t highlight the unique nature of your product just by listing its features. You need to communicate how these features can solve pain points better than other products. For example, if you’re selling plant-based hamburgers you’ll pay special attention to how it’s the healthier option that health-conscious diners have been struggling to find. 

Duck.Design’s branding identity design services can help businesses, irrespective of where they are in their journey, to create new assets that create emotional connections or redesign existing ones. 

In fact, if you’re in the SaaS niche, our team can even assist with the actual designing of the product. We’ll work with you to refine your idea, identify value propositions, and design a mini viable product (MVP). 

Conclusion

Brands must evolve with their consumers, exploring new products to stay relevant in a changing marketplace. Each new product, though, needs to get its own unique identity. While this visual identity should be unique, it should still fit in with the overarching style of the brand. 

That’s one of the challenges of product branding. 

It takes a lot of time. And, implementing it consistently requires foresight and patience. 

However, do it right and you could be the brand behind the next Big Mac, iPhone, or Coca-Cola and become part of pop culture. 

 

Product Branding That Changes Brand Perceptions
Hundreds of companies have used Duck.Design’s wide range of services. Whether you’re branding new products or need to grow product loyalty for one of your products, our team can create or improve your branding elements. We offer a fully managed process that can scale with your changing needs.

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