Every successful product has its own brand identity. It’s what separates a pair of Nike shoes from a generic pair of sneakers or Coca Cola from a generic brand cola drink. A brand gives a product its own personality. But just how do you build an effective product brand? Below are just a few tips.
Know your audience
By knowing your product’s audience, you can create a brand that appeals to that audience. For example, let’s imagine you’re designing a suitcase. A suitcase for kids going on vacation is likely to be branded very differently to a suitcase aimed at professionals travelling for business purposes. While they may both share the same basic purpose - to store clothes - the former needs to be branded in a fun way, while the latter may need to be branded in a more formal way.
It’s worth doing your market research to see what types of products your audience consumes. This can allow you to take influence from the brands of these products so that you get the tone right.
Find your USP
Your USP (unique selling proposition) is the thing that makes your product unique from its competitors. While it may be important to take some influence, you don’t want your product to blend in with the crowd. It needs a unique feature - and this unique feature needs to be incorporated into your brand identity.
Going back to the example of a suitcase - let’s imagine your USP is that you’re an eco-friendly alternative to plastic suitcases aimed at kids. It could be essential to show consumers that your product is green, either with an inventive eco-inspired brand name or visuals related to greenness and environmentalism.
Choose a unique product name
Your product needs a catchy and suitable name. It also needs to be unique to any other products that are out there (you could get sued for stealing a trademarked name - so do your research).
Try to think of your audience and your USP. Then think of words and phrases that are related. Products need to have a snappy brand name - more so than service-type businesses - so keep your brand name short. AYTM offers some more great tips on coming up with a product name.
Make your product visually distinct
When people think of a brand, they often think of the visuals. This is particularly the case with products. As with your product name, the visuals need to relate to your audience and your USP.
Establishing a logo could be the first step. This could be included on the packaging or printed/embossed onto the product itself. A logo could include a symbol (such as Nike’s tick) or it could simply be the product name in a stylish font. It may be worth hiring a graphic designer to design it and possibly a die manufacturer company such as Universal Engraving if you plan to emboss it on your product. Make sure your logo isn’t too similar to competitors (logos can also be trademarked).
Visual branding can also come in other forms. The shape of your product and the colors used could be essential to your brand. This is evident with brands like Coca-cola - the bottle shape and red color are as iconic as the logo and brand name itself. Make sure that any aesthetic features do not interfere with the functionality of your product.
Tell a story with your product
Brands can also be used to tell a story. This could be a story of how your product came to be or a story of a consumer having their problems solved by your product. Such stories can help to build your identity and can help consumers connect to you. They may be a way of tying together the rest of your branding such as your logo, brand name and colors.
You may be able to tell such a story with a slogan alone or you could incorporate a story into your product’s packaging. You could also incorporate stories into your advertising through videos, radio adverts or simply through picture ads.
Some brands are able to build entire characters to accompany their product. This includes Tony the Tiger, the Duracell Bunny and the Michelin Man. Consider whether this could be a route for you to take.