The types of branding

Just like there are many different types of brands, there are lots of different types of branding out there. Branding isn’t one-size-fits-all; the most effective strategies are highly personalized to the companies, groups and creators using them. That’s because it’s all about personality and that’s why proper brand stewardship is so important.

A brand is basically a company’s personality; branding is the steps a company takes to express that personality. But, developing a unique persona does more than make a company feel like a character. When it’s done effectively, branding positions an organization (or an individual, or a movement, or even a specific product) as a leader in their field and communicates to consumers that it’s the ideal choice for them and their lifestyle.

As a new entrepreneur, content creator or simply an individual undergoing personal growth, understanding branding and how to do it well is one of the key ingredients for success.

Branding vs. brand identity vs. brand

Before we can get into the 8 different types of branding, it’s important to break down the differences between branding, brand identity and brand.

Creating a brand identity establishes consistency and defines your brand 

And then there’s brand identity. Your brand identity is the set of design choices you make when branding something. If your branding includes warm pastel colors, your brand identity clarifies the specific hues into a color palette so every designer you work with knows which colors to stick to for a consistent look.

Brand identity includes things like your font choices, your color palette, the types of graphics you use, your logo (and its variations) and your copy voice. Your brand identity provides the building blocks you use in your branding strategy.

Where does branding happen?

Anywhere a brand is visible, branding happens. As you develop your branding strategy, think about the places where your brand will take up space and be seen—online and offline. Ultimately, the goal of branding is to build a trustworthy, unique identity that differentiates you from competitors and communicates to your target audience that you’re exactly what they want.

Personal branding tends to happen in places where people—public figures or not—interact as individuals, like on social media platforms or at professional events. Product and corporate branding tends to happen in places where products and companies need to stand out, like in stores and ads, as well as on social media. Service branding happens in these spaces as well, and often, you’ll see retail branding happening alongside corporate and product branding.

So, which kinds of branding should you be doing? There are several types of branding that are worth exploring in depth. Here are the 8 types of branding you need to know:

We’ll break them down below so you can see how they work, how they can work together and how they could work for your unique brand.

1. Personal branding

At first, it can feel kind of strange to think of a person as having a brand. After all, we’re not products, we’re people. And we have inborn personalities, not cultivated brands.

That’s true. But when we talk about personal branding, we’re not talking about creating a personality for yourself. We’re talking about building a public persona that accurately communicates your unique personality. Personal branding happens on social media and in face-to-face environments where others’ perception of you can have a massive impact on your professional and social reputation—in a good or disastrous way.

2. Product branding

Product branding is the action of branding a specific product. Just like personal branding involves cultivating a public vocabulary and aesthetic for yourself, product branding shapes how the world perceives your product through deliberate aesthetic choices.

With product branding, the goal is to connect the right audience to your product. For example, you might be a luxury furniture designer. There’s a specific type of buyer—also known as a customer avatar—who’s responsible for most of your sales. Through thoughtful product branding, you can make sure people who fit this customer avatar:

3. Service branding

Unlike products, which are easy to brand in visible and tangible ways, services are a little more challenging to brand. But that doesn’t mean brands can’t do it effectively—they just have to be willing to think outside the box.

Often, service branding comes in the form of “extras”, like an insurance company sending all their customers rebate checks at the end of the year or a hotel offering free cookies at the concierge desk. Service branding can also come in the form of meeting specific expectations that set a company apart from their competitors, like a cable company connecting customers with human customer service reps rather than automated prompts, when they call.

4. Retail branding

When you walk into a brick and mortar store, its physical appearance has a look and feel specific to that brand. That’s retail branding in action. Deliberate design choices like its layout, the light fixtures, the decor, the music played, the display fixtures and even the type of flooring are all carefully selected to build a living brand experience for every shopper who enters the store.

Retail branding is a must-do for any business operating in a physical location. Ecommerce has seen immense growth in the past few years and that trend isn’t changing any time soon. So, to keep shoppers coming through the doors, retailers need to up their branding game and turn their stores into experiences that shoppers want to come back and relive.

5. Online branding

Online branding, as the name implies, is branding that happens online. Unlike specific types of branding, like personal or product branding, online branding is a broad category that refers to all types of branding that happens on the internet. It’s how an individual positions themselves on social media, it’s the kind of online ads a service provider runs, it’s all the design choices that go into email newsletters, landing pages, responsive web design and automatic message replies.

If online branding is part of your branding strategy (in this day and age, it needs to be) the key to getting it right is making sure it fits into your wider brand identity like a glove. Going from a soft, minimalist ecommerce website to a brash, overloaded packaging design can be jarring for customers when receiving products and so undermines your attempt to build a meaningful relationship between them and your brand.


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