Top 10 Branding Examples Killing It and What You Can Learn From Them

by Kyle Simpson · 36 comments

Branding 101
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This is a great guest post from Kyle… I simply had to run it today because it was too good a piece NOT to share with you all and offers some killer examples of branding at it’s absolute finest.

So happy reading BGB’ers and be sure to let us know in the comments below if you know of other killer branding examples, large or small.

There are plenty of companies out there that are succeeding, but more are merely scraping by (while others fail entirely).  So what is it that makes some businesses successful while their competitors get left in the dust?

It’s not always an easy question to answer, but here are a few companies that embody the “everything they touch turns to gold” mentality.  And if you copy their branding secrets, you may just find the success you crave.

Apple

Clipped from: apple.com (share this clip)

More than just products, this company offers a lifestyle, one that is hip, fun, and on the cutting-edge of technology (or so they would have you believe). 

Their products meet needs you didn’t even know you had and their advertising skews to the young (and young at heart) with trendy music and splashy, colorful graphics.  This is one big lesson in innovation and advertising success.

Pixar (or Disney/Pixar)

Another company that is at the top of its field, Pixar animation studios take advantage of some of the most creative people in the industry to produce films that tug at the heartstrings of every demographic.

But they put in the time.

With rumors of a five-year production cycle on every film, they are certainly taking a risk, but so far their quality-over-quantity mentality has paid off big.

GE

Clipped from: www.ge.com (share this clip)

The main thing that has allowed General Electric to survive and thrive for decades is their penchant for diversity.

From light bulbs and appliances to aviation and finance, this company has their hands in everyone’s cookie jar.

The beauty of this tactic is that if one area is not profitable, it has little effect on the company as a whole.

3M

Clipped from: www.3m.com (share this clip)

Like GE, this company is diverse, and like the many-headed hydra, it seems to sprout two heads every time it loses one.

Their expansion has not only been in the arena of products, but also into the global economy, servicing the Americas, Europe, the Middle East, Africa, and Asia Pacific (basically anywhere that has people and currency).

Coca Cola

We all know soda is bad for us, and yet, everyone drinks it.

Why?

Coca Cola, through years of trial and error, has been able to insinuate itself into every household (in America and in many other countries throughout the world) only partially because of its delicious products.

They are tenacious.

They take over other markets by buying out the local companies and replacing them, but they also try all kinds of advertising until they hit on the pulse of the culture.

As a company, they’re really fairly insidious, but it seems to work like magic.

BMW

The success of this automobile manufacturer stems largely from the fact that they have targeted a specific demographic (the young and upwardly mobile among us) and in doing so, have turned their product into something elite that other aspire to attain.

This is really ingenious only because it works so well for them (see Saab for the other side of this coin).

Luckily, they also produce cars that are dependable, attractive, and come with attendant bells and whistles that cater to their intended buyers (comfortable seating, sporty handling, and the latest technological gadgets).

Visa

You almost can’t stop yourself from saying, “It’s everywhere you want to be.”

That is a good sign of successful branding.

By tying themselves to a long-standing catch-phrase (and the idea that goes with it) they have ensured brand recognition on a global scale and presented an international image that is difficult to tarnish.

McDonald’s

As fast-food manufacturer’s go, you can’t find a more widely recognized name (or symbol, or promotional character). 

What makes them great is their ability to change their image.

You could look at them as a company that produces insanely unhealthy food for bargain basement prices (which begs the question, how can they make quality products so cheap?).

But they’ve managed to make themselves desirable to a world that is leaning towards healthier fare by cutting trans fats, offering healthy options, and tossing the biggie-size mentality that has been blamed for making America fat.

They have also garnered an image of social responsibility through their charity, the Ronald McDonald House, which helps families deal with illness and injury and by contributing to large humanitarian organizations like the Red Cross.

UPS

Who thought brown could be such a dependable color?

Five dollars says it was originally chosen because it was the cheapest paint for their trucks.

In any case, they have managed to stay afloat despite waging war with stalwarts (the USPS) and newcomers (FedEx) alike because they have based their brand on reliability.

Their prices are middle-of-the-road, they don’t tend to have a holier-than-thou attitude (USPS), and they rarely promise what they cannot deliver (FedEx).

They might not get it there as fast or as cheap, but it will arrive when they say it will, and sometimes that means a lot more than less cost or quick shipping.

Nike

The great thing about Nike is that even though they are committed to making money, they have somehow convinced the world that they are actually committed to improving our lives.

This is a pretty nifty trick for a company that makes billions of dollars on child labor in third world countries (oh, well, they don’t really do that anymore…do they?).

On the upside, they do make products (fairly expensive ones) that encourage us to cloth ourselves in keeping with our inner athlete.

They address a wide range of sports and urge people to exercise in style.

They also have an eco-friendly arm that turns recycled footwear into rubber turf for gymnasiums and playgrounds (for kids who don’t work all day).  Their main strength lies in their ability to turn any PR nightmare with a positive spin.

Over to You

Know of any branding giants I missed?  How about small businesses who are killing it? Feel free to share them in the comments below.

Yo! Are You Signed Up for #BGB News, Jazz, and Hoopla? Do It! Do It! Do It!

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{ 36 comments… read them below or add one }

Jefferson Reid July 14, 2010 at 7:32 PM

Brandtastic RT @BigGirlBranding Cori Top 10 Branding Examples Killing It and What You Can Learn From Them- http://su.pr/1tO63e

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Mars Dorian July 14, 2010 at 7:43 PM

Apple, BMW and Nike are really killing it- both in product creation and branding.

My friend used to work for the BMW headquarters here in Germany. He told me that everyone there was totally obsessed with it – the whole company is full of passionate geeks who breath their brand 24/7 – I’m sure this love for the company reflects in the product creation.
Mars Dorian recently posted..How to Build a Digital Killer Brand in 6 stepsMy Profile

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admin July 14, 2010 at 7:57 PM

Agreed, I think employee love for the brand are probably huge components on why they’ve been so successful… make your workers happy, convert them to brand ambassadors, and set them out into the world. lol

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kyle July 14, 2010 at 10:39 PM

I agree with you both. It’s one thing when the owners and stakeholders have love for their company but it’s a whole different animal when the actual employees share that passion

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sanjay July 15, 2010 at 8:26 AM

Thanks for writing such a nice summary about value based brand. It is inspiring to know there is one thing common among all. They value their value most and stick to it to make a difference.

I agree with all other than Coke and McDonald value. Agree that they create this hype and represent something testy, but never HEALTHY. I gave up these two. They are making money at cost of other’s life (unhealthy one), though it is a personal choice to buy their product. I choose no to pay money to buy their product at a cost of my health.

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admin July 15, 2010 at 6:12 PM

Hey Sanjay! Glad you enjoyed it, I couldn’t resist when Kyle sent it over.. I thought it was a great piece to share with my readers. :) And I’m with you on Coke and McDonald’s… they might have a good brand, but I hardly ever touch Coke, and even more rarely do I eat McDonald’s anymore… just not worth risking my health. Heck, you can clean a car engine with Coke!!! Definitely not something I want in my body, lol.

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Blog Angel a.k.a. Joella July 15, 2010 at 1:28 PM

Hmmm, look who’s using clp.ly, LOL. Good luck with winning an iPad Luv.

Great article and nicely illustrated. I am big fan of Apple and there is no denying that they’re logo and products have instant recognition.

My humble attempts at branding have been to try to get my name out there and my nom de plume -Blog Angel. I do have a plan that centers around my marketing my own blog designs, but that is all I’m willing to reveal at this time.

I’ve tried to create and “atmosphere” or feeling around Blogs With Wings, of hopeful, optimism, sunny skies and open spaces. So how am I doing so far?

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admin July 15, 2010 at 6:19 PM

LOL..yep, I read your post and couldn’t help but try it out. The chance to win an iPad is a bonus, as I’d totally LOVE to have one.. but I rarely win contests so I won’t hold my breath! lol But I love the way you can clip pieces of web pages, it looks so neat and slick.. and it was killer easy so now I’m hooked! So thanks for throwing it across my radar!

I would definitely say you’re achieving your goal with Blogs With Wings… it definitely has a ‘bright and airy’ feel to it when you land, which I automatically associate with optimism and good vibes. :) And the way you’ve stretched theme to take up the whole screen makes it seem wide-open as well. So I think you’re doing an excellent job there my friend.

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Rick July 16, 2010 at 1:49 AM

Old Spice should have made the list. Especially with the campaign efforts as of late.

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admin July 16, 2010 at 3:15 AM

Good note, thanks Rick! :)

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Adrian Swinscoe July 17, 2010 at 5:09 PM

RT @BigGirlBranding: #BGB -Top 10 Branding Examples Killing It and What You Can Learn From Them- http://su.pr/1tO63e #branding

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Ken July 20, 2010 at 3:37 PM

Thanks for the article Kyle and thanks for sharing it with us Cori. I think companies like Apple and Pixar are the world leaders in branding. So many people went and got the iPhone 4 purely based on the brand trust (which may have dropped because of signal problems). Pixar are another great example…look at the Toy Story movie…its absolutely huge!

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admin July 20, 2010 at 10:24 PM

You’re very welcome Ken! yeah, I’ve got friends who have the iphone 4, and lots of bugs they’re dealing with.. always better to wait awhile I think with stuff like that! lol And my kids ADORE Toy Story! :D

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Silent Generators August 1, 2010 at 8:14 AM

I imagine corporations like Apple and Pixar are the entire world leaders in branding. So several individuals went and got the iPhone 4 purely based around the brand trust (which may have dropped because of signal issues).

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admin August 2, 2010 at 4:14 AM

Agreed, they likely did get the iphone 4 due to brand trust… and while there is glitches, I honestly don’t think they hurt the brand too much.. most folks expect them now as par for the course in a new release, and just wait it out until they are rectified!

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Steve March 29, 2011 at 12:07 PM

the thing with apple is that the have major brand equity among their very well named “Mac Community” which i think kept apple afloat for a majority the 90′s, because people at apple value their brand they create beautifully designed products that are very simplistic and easy to use in a hectic society, its right from earlier apple brand personality is about lifestyle which is apparant in their products.

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Silent Generators August 8, 2010 at 9:50 AM

I picture corporations like Apple and Pixar are the total world leaders in branding.

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Mars Dorian August 10, 2010 at 9:24 PM

RT @BigGirlBranding: "Top 10 Branding Examples Killing It and What You Can Learn From Them – http://clp.ly/11at0

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Kimberly Castleberry August 12, 2010 at 4:00 AM

RT @MarsDorian: RT @BigGirlBranding: "Top 10 Branding Examples Killing It and What You Can Learn From Them – http://clp.ly/11at0

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Silent Generators August 15, 2010 at 3:07 PM

I picture corporations like Apple and Pixar are the whole globe leaders in branding. So various persons went and got the iPhone 4 purely based around the brand trust (which may possibly have dropped due to the fact of signal issues).

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Silent Generators August 15, 2010 at 3:09 PM

I picture corporations like Apple and Pixar are the total globe leaders in branding. So numerous people went and got the iPhone 4 purely based close to the brand trust (which might have dropped due to the fact of signal troubles).

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Silent Generators August 15, 2010 at 3:09 PM

I envision corporations like Apple and Pixar are the entire globe leaders in branding.

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Medical Services Outsourcing August 19, 2010 at 12:20 PM

Thanks for the article Kyle and thanks for sharing it with us Cori. I think companies like Apple and Pixar are the world leaders in branding.I think employee love for the brand are probably huge components on why they’ve been so successful… make your workers happy, convert them to brand ambassadors, and set them out into the world.

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admin August 20, 2010 at 2:30 AM

Thanks Melvina, glad you enjoyed it. I agree, make them happy and send them out! lol :)

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Romel September 27, 2010 at 5:49 PM

The top brands did well for their customers this year. Keep up the good work!

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admin September 28, 2010 at 3:51 AM

Thanks Romel!

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bryanb October 15, 2010 at 7:41 AM

Now, I don’t really like Apple decause of the way it treats developers but I like the inclusion of 3M in this story. From what I read 3M’s lead comes from the fact that they encourage everyone who gets a paycheck from them to suggest ideas. Rumour has it that the post-it and the double-sided tape were invented that way. Maybe it’s time I find out.

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admin October 18, 2010 at 4:13 PM

I say go for it. :)

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bryanb October 19, 2010 at 12:21 AM

Well I’ve been to 3M’s web site and they sure don’t brag about it.
They should, really.

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Brown Strappy Sandals October 21, 2010 at 3:28 AM

I certainly loved your compilation. Right from animation, characters and good storylines, there are many reasons to reminder us as to why Pixar kicks ass. I m a fan of Pixar since I got to watch some greatest ever movies like Wall E and The Lion King.
Oh, I shouldn’t miss out mentioning Apple that has hit so smart on the pulse of the culture. We saw the launch of iPhones, and iPad and know these are so important to the people around the world. Nice compilation. Keep it going.

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admin October 21, 2010 at 7:20 PM

Thanks Lucas. Glad you enjoyed the post. :)

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Sean Dailey January 26, 2011 at 4:27 PM

rt @BigGirlBranding #BGB Remix: Top 10 Branding Examples Killing It and What You Can Learn From Them http://su.pr/1PHuv5

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Integraphix March 27, 2011 at 11:48 PM

I really feel that Nike, Apple and McDonald’s (as much as a hate the food) are the superstars of this post. They’re really been enormously successful in their marketing and branding strategies and they do have a loyal following. Thanks for the great post!

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admin March 30, 2011 at 10:07 PM

Thanks, glad you enjoyed it! :)

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Veronica Cervera August 4, 2011 at 1:10 PM

Apple is really one brand that creates outstanding and unique products which are used by other companies as their inspirations in creating their own versions of them. iPad is one perfect example. Apple started it all, and the rest just followed.

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admin September 15, 2011 at 12:44 PM

Yep.. like little baby ducks following their mama! LOL

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