This article will cover:
- What product branding is
- How to create a brand identity and differentiate your brand from your competitors
- How to formulate successful messaging that triggers emotion
- Product branding tips and design considerations
- How to strengthen your brand on social media
What Is Product Branding And Why Is It Important?
Put simply, product branding helps to position your product and make it desirable.
It can engender an emotional connection to your product that wouldn’t have existed without the branding, resulting in higher sales and customer loyalty.
Product branding carefully considers how your product design, logo, packaging and messaging will appeal to your target consumer.
It's important to get your product branding on point early to help your both your trade marketing and consumer marketing efforts.
I came to understand the incredible power of product branding in 2004 with the iPod silhouette campaign.
I discovered an irrational desire for a product, despite having no idea when I would use it.
The bright, contrasting colours and funky music...it was about lifestyle, aspiration, fun, innovation, passion and imagination.
It promised me liberation through technology.
I wanted one.
You did too.
That’s the power of effective product branding.
Today, I’m going to show you some professional tips to help you create an unforgettable brand.
Here are 5 product branding techniques to get inside the mind of your consumer.
1. Start With Why
Look back at the intro.
Notice I started with why you should read it.
It wasn’t a mistake.
Let me explain.
When creating your product messaging, it’s important you start with ‘why’.
You should answer this question right off the bat and appeal to emotion.
Because our brains are programmed that way.
The limbic portion of the brain is the part that deals with emotion.
Science has shown that we actually make decisions with this part of our brain first.
It's only afterwards that we rationalise the decision with the logical part of our brain.
Simon Sinek succinctly explains it here:
“Need is logical. Want is emotional. We don’t buy what we need, we buy what we want.”
~Daniel Priestley, Oversubscribed.
Think about it:
This works for both corporate branding and product branding.
Corporate branding is your company story and ethos. It’s your overall messaging about your company’s beliefs, values and goals.
Product branding is more specific to the product itself. Product branding can be different to your corporate branding.
For example, Cadbury’s Dairy Milk is branded considerably differently to Cadbury’s Crunchie.
However, with each case you should start with why.
Corporate branding: ‘Why we do what we do.’
Product branding: ‘Why you want what we do.’
2. Differentiate Or Die
You’ve got to be different.
This isn’t new information, so why am I saying it?
Because you don’t just need to be different to your competitors, you need to be deliberately different.
Being deliberately different means analysing your competitors, identifying their strengths and weaknesses, then finding something that makes you distinctly different.
It’s about creating your very own brand identity.
This can be done using a SWOT analysis looking at your competitor's strengths and weaknesses, while identifying any opportunities or threats.
Let’s look at Virgin Atlantic for a perfect example of differentiation.
Fun, cheeky and slick are words that instantly spring to mind.
At a time when its biggest competitor, British Airways, focused on its brand heritage making it appeal to an older consumer, Virgin went the opposite way.
In contrast, it targeted a fun, ultra-cool younger generation.
"When everybody zigs, zag."
~Marty Neumeier - ZAG: The #1 Strategy of High-Performance Brands.
3. Become A Household Name
Now let’s look at your product name.
When choosing your product name, it must tie in with how you differentiate yourself.
For example, it’s no use trying to differentiate your product as a luxury washing powder and calling it ‘Daz’.
Equally, it’s wouldn't make sense to differentiate your product as a budget washing powder and call it ‘Distinctive’.
While established products such as Heinz tomato ketchup can rely on its well-established name, you may have to be a little more creative to compete with such giants.
Ensure your product’s name is brief, appropriate, easy to spell, easy to pronounce, extendable and likable.
Make it short and punchy.
Ensure your name fits the product and ideally hints at the benefits (for example, Scotts ‘Miracle-Gro’).
Easy to spell
If it’s easy to spell, it’s easy to remember.
Easy to pronounce
According to an article by The Independent , ‘Worcestershire’, ‘Choir’ and ‘Squirrel’ are the top three hardest words for non-native English speakers to pronounce.
If you want to compete globally, keep it easy.
Sorry Worcestershire Sauce.
This may be why it’s known exclusively as ‘Lea and Perrins’ in the US.
It still didn't stop us proudly pitching for Lea & Perrins 'Lovelea' experiential campaign, where we encouraged the brand's social media fans to share their travel snaps.
If you want to extend your product line, name your product something that allows you to add products to it and create a family.
We worked with Pyrex on their ‘Cook &…’ range.
Make sure your product name is likeable and in good taste with your audience.
Here’s a bombshell (or two)…
There’s an argument Camel Balls would appeal to teenagers (and puerile adults such as myself).
However, ensure you know your market, their tastes and their humour.
4. Choose Your Messaging
In the advertising mogul, George Lois’ book Damn Good Advice (for people with talent!) his first commandment is as follows:
“The word comes first, then the visual.”
~George Lois, Damn Good Advice (for people with talent!)
Before you design your product, you should understand your product messaging.
Good design can never compensate for bad product messaging.
Your product messaging is crucial and must speak to your target consumers.
Good messaging will not only answer ‘why’ but should solve a problem and explain the product’s benefits.
If you want to get to the nub of what your consumer really needs, employ the '5 Whys'.
Originally developed by Toyota Motor Group as a method of problem-solving, it involves asking 'why?' five times to understand the root cause of a problem.
You can take this approach when developing your product branding.
Develop solid product messaging by answering 'why' five times to get to the real reasons a customer might buy your product.
Buy our ketchup.
Because it's really tasty and good for you.
Because it doesn't include sugar and uses natural, fresh organic tomatoes.
Because they're better for you.
Because they contain more antioxidants.
Because they ripen for longer than non-organic tomatoes.
Messaging: Our ketchup doesn't contain sugar and is made from natural, fresh organic tomatoes. Our organic tomatoes are left to ripen for longer, producing more disease-fighting antioxidants and a healthier, happier you.
Short product description: Sugar-free, organic tomato ketchup with antioxidants
Once you’ve answered the why, this will naturally elicit a desire for more information such as features and price.
Think about your USP — what makes you different from your competitors?
Got your attention again?
That’s what it takes.
Today’s consumers are information rich and time poor.
As a wise American president once stated:
“I could have written a shorter letter, but I didn’t have time.”
~ Abraham Lincoln
Simplify your messaging without losing its power and meaning.
Keep the main messaging to eight beautifully crafted words or less.
Now for the design…
5. Design Emotions
You’re in a never-ending battle to stand out within the oversaturated shelves of a store.
So every metaphorical inch you can gain counts.
First, consider the colour of your packaging.
Different colours invoke certain emotions.
For example, blue is seen as trustworthy and dependable. Orange is seen as cheerful and confident.
Source: The Logo Company
Think about your product offering and choose colours to reflect that.
Often, brands will incorporate bright and contrasting colours to make their product stand out. You might also want to look at the colours of your competitors and go in the opposite direction.
However, ensure it still adheres to your product positioning.
For example, if it’s a premium product then avoid using too many bright contrasting colours at the risk of it looking garish.
Next is your packaging shape.
It has to reflect your product positioning.
Apple’s USP (Unique Selling Proposition) is that it produces beautiful, innovative, easy-to-use technology that empowers people.
Its packaging is equally simple and slick.
If you’re producing bottled water for women, do you have a rigid rectangular bottle?
Of course not.
You design it to be feminine, curvy and graceful, like the women you’re trying to target.
Like this sleek wine packaging...
You can even add a touch of class to what has traditionally been budget packaging.
Finally, you must consider how your product branding and packaging complement each other.
Dorset Cereals wanted to position itself as a premium brand.
Its packaging is smaller than competitor brands, hinting at quality. It also communicates its premium-ness through foiled silver typography.
It boasts that it doesn’t have any dust in its muesli, so part of its packaging is clear, to display the quality of the product.
And if that’s not enough it nods towards its eco credentials by using matte, non-coated card and a heritage colour palette.
Every element of the packaging has been carefully considered to communicate its brand.
Do this and your product will shine on the shelves (in more ways than one).
Bonus: Build Your Brand Online
With today’s multimedia and the PR minefield of various social media channels, it can be a challenge for marketers to maintain their branding (and reputation) throughout.
When promoting your product on social media, ensure your tone and messaging are consistent.
Are you going to adopt a serious or humorous tone? Does it reflect the product's positioning and talk to your target audience?
Here’s a very important point to consider:
"Your brand is not what you say it is, it’s what they say it is."
~Marty Neumeier, The Brand Gap
A good brand speaks to their online audience like a real person, making it relatable.
Ensure you don't sound robotic and self-promotional – talk to your audience in their language.
Your product fans can create brand synergy more than your messaging ever could.
Utilise user generated content.
What is user generated content?
User generated content is when fans of your product create content based around your product.
For example, Walkers launched its ‘Do Us A Flavour’ campaign, where crisp fans got the chance to invent their very own Walkers crisp flavour.
The campaign had over 1.2m entries and spurred forth a deluge of social media posts and shares.
Another great example is Coca Cola putting names on its cans and bottles. This ‘brand fan’ concept has since been copied by other brands such as Marmite and Nutella.
Consumers were keen to show off cans of coke proudly displaying their name.
What followed was a huge uplift in social media exposure.
In a study by YouGov, 28 percent of 18 to 24-year-olds reported they've heard a friend or family member 'mention the brand positively on social media over the past two weeks' after the campaign had launched.
Starting out, you may not have a huge fan base.
However, you could easily run a competition with a free giveaway to entice people to generate content.
Unless you’re fast to respond on social media it can actually do more harm than good.
Studies show the faster you are to respond, the more revenue you can make.
If you need to respond quickly, ensure you have a social media management app such as Hootsuite.
This way you can receive notifications straight to your phone, while monitoring mentions and capitalising on engagement opportunities.
Launching a product, building a brand and getting it ranged is a long and difficult process.
We’ve helped multiple global organisations develop their branding and get their products in stores.
Why not download The Ultimate Guide To Trade Marketing, and learn how to:
- Develop an irresistible product offering
- Get your product ranged in leading stores
- Ensure your product sells once it's on the shelves