6 principles for successful branding


So you have an awesome idea, a flourishing company or perhaps you’re an established brand that wants to update your message and reconnect with your audience, whatever your reason, getting your branding right will positively affect your business. To help you do just that, we’ll go over the 6 key principles for successful branding in this article.

Illustration by OrangeCrush

6 principles for successful branding

  1. Ask yourself why?
  2. Brand vision
  3. Check your competition and find your unique selling point
  4. Personality counts
  5. Pitch perfect
  6. Creating brand guidelines

1. Ask yourself why?

Why are you doing what you are doing? Answering this question will define your brand’s values, purpose and mandate. And having a successful purpose-driven brand will create a strong bond with your target audience.

Simon Sinek is the creator of a concept he calls The Golden Circle. The Golden Circle starts with WHY at the center, followed by HOW and finally WHAT at the edge of the circle. He encourages us to think from the inside out, from WHY, then HOW, then WHAT.

The Golden Circle Why How What Graphic by Simon Sinek
Simon Sinek’s Golden Circle, works from the inside out. Via Simon Sinek

You can do this exercise yourself by drawing your own Golden Circle and brainstorming and asking yourself these three key questions. Starting with WHY you are doing what you are doing, and moving on to HOW, then WHAT.

From using only organic ingredients to fixing a small but significant problem for consumers, having a purpose or belief will undoubtedly engage with your audience and connect them with your brand.

innocent smoothies advert
Innocent smoothie getting across their message perfectly. Via Innocent

Innocent is a great example of a company getting its “why” very clear. From their company name to their slogan “Tastes good does good,” they highlight their great product and their commitment to do good (they give 10% of the business’s profits to charity).

Packaging design for Organic Ceremonial Matcha Tea
Beautiful packaging Design for Matcha Life by Mila Katagarova

Branding is successful when every part of your business shows your value. This packaging design by Mila Katagarova uses illustrations of leaves and an open landscape to connect with the organic and natural value of Matcha Life.

2. Brand vision

Once you have your “why” it’s time to determine a vision statement. This defines what it is you want to achieve. So, grab a pen and paper and get scribbling some answers to these helpful questions:

binocular, view finder
Binocular image by joffi via Pixabay
  • Think about where you would like your business to be in five to ten years
  • Write the statement based on your “why” and your business’ values
  • Make sure that your statement implies a clear focus for your business
  • Write your vision statement in the present tense
  • Distill your statement into clear and concise language
  • Make sure the statement is easily understood. Check with friends and family that your vision is clear

Here are a few examples from some big brands:

  • Dove: We believe beauty should be a source of confidence, and not anxiety. That’s why we are here to help women everywhere develop a positive relationship with the way they look, helping them raise their self-esteem and realize their full potential.
  • Coca Cola: Our vision is to craft the brands and choice of drinks that people love, to refresh them in body & spirit. And done in ways that create a more sustainable business and better shared future that makes a difference in people’s lives, communities and our planet.

3. Check your competition and find your unique selling point

crayola ad featuring a child's drawing of a rocket a one eyed octopus wrestling Barney the dinosaur
Crayola advert “Create Anything Imagined” via adsoftheworld.com

Learn from your competition, research them and work out what it is that sets your brand or company apart. Your unique selling point (USP) comes from positioning yourself differently from your competitors. For example, instead of thinking my pens are excellent and the ink lasts so many hours, think big picture like Crayola and make your product synonymous with creativity. Crayola’s vision and goal are to free the “What If?” questions in kids’ minds.

A handy checklist for finding your USP:

  1. Make a list that includes all the features and benefits that are unique about your product or service.
  2. Google your competitors and compare your features and benefits, then you can get a clearer picture of what small thing (or big thing) sets you apart.
  3. Think about an emotional need that will be met by your product or service.
  4. Look at it from your customer’s point of view and note down everything that springs to mind.
  5. Identify aspects of your product or service that your competitors cannot imitate.
  6. Underline anything that cannot be easily duplicated, reproduced, or copied.
  7. Think of phrases about your unique product or service, keep them clear and concise.

By using the words from the steps above, it will help you to form a strapline that will communicate your USP easily to your customers.
Your perfect strapline should encompass everything you want to communicate in as few words as possible, and use it everywhere! Just make sure to use your strapline consistently on your marketing material, website, social media and email signature, and of course on your product. This will help your audience build an association with your brand.

The best straplines are more than a few words, they also conjure up images, emotions, memories, tastes.

Here are a few great examples to get your creative juices flowing:

  • KFC “Finger-Lickin’ Good.”
  • Rice Krispies “Snap, Crackle & Pop.”
  • Red Bull “Gives You Wings.”
  • M&M’s: “Melts in your mouth, not in your hand.”
  • FedEx: “When your package absolutely, positively has to get there overnight.”

4. Personality counts

What's a brand persona
Illustration by OrangeCrush

Establishing the right personality for your brand will help prospective customers decide on whether you are the right brand for them. Personality should be reflected throughout your communications from the tone of voice and language to the type font and colors you choose. All of this will be reflective of your brand values and ultimately your prospective customers’ values.

Brand creation relies on truly understanding the buyer persona. It helps visualize your target customers and their demographics, like age, gender, location, income.

To get even more definition for your brand’s buyer persona, you can explore these details:

  • Motivations
  • Goals
  • Fears
  • Desires
  • Influencers
  • Brand affinities

Also, think about your product or company and think if it were a person who would it be? It can be useful to think of well-known individuals and their personality attributes. The buyer persona and brand personality should then have strong crossovers.

Explore our guide on brand personality >>

5. Pitch perfect

elderly women using a tannoy in the street in front of passers by
Photo by Marie S via Unsplash

Yep we are referring to your tone of voice with this principle, your communications with your target audience must speak to them directly and connect with them.

If you are selling trainers to a teenage customer base you would use a different language to engage them than you would if you were selling organic linen to boutique hotels. Sounds obvious but it’s essential to speak to your customers in the right tone of voice otherwise in a busy market place your brand’s voice will go unheard.

Check out our guide on brand voice >>

6. Creating brand guidelines

brand guideline layout
Brand guideline design by Graphyte

Time for the final principle, now you have thoroughly researched and worked out your unique offer, it’s time to create brand guidelines. Creating brand guidelines helps you stay consistent and on message, throughout all your communications from packaging to website to an email signature. It all adds up to create a well-rounded recognizable brand

So, here’s what your brand guidelines should include:

  1. Company logo and strapline
  2. Colour palette
  3. Typography
  4. Document styling
  5. Digital styling

Check out our five steps to create a brand guideline >>

Putting principles into practice

Remember to dig deep into “Why” you are doing what you are doing, research your competition and get an edge on them. Also never underestimate the value of truly understanding your audience and connecting with them.

Now that you have the key principles for successful branding, refer to and revisit whenever you need a refresher! You’ll be well on your way to creating impactful, successful branding for your product or service.

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Author Bio

Amy Brennan Whittington is a writer with years of agency experience, creating campaigns for clients that range from IBM, American Express to Marie Curie Cancer Care. Now living with her young family in Cornwall Amy is cofounder of a branding and packaging company, The Mutiny Agency. When she’s not creating campaigns or writing content, she can be spotted swimming in the sea!



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