How Brands Get Their Look

Anytime you’re in a store, let’s say for example you’re looking at the soda and soft drinks, all the branded products you see in the fridge have gone through iteration after iteration of design work to get there. Everything from a can of cola to that expensive-looking bottle of water has to represent the brand they come from, stand out without looking out of place, and get your attention by matching what the product offers by what you have in mind.

You’d be surprised just how much work goes into helping brands get their look. For every iconic logo we have out there (McDonald’s arches, Starbucks mermaid, Pepsi’s globe), there are hundreds of competitors who can’t get there without putting up a fair fight. So how do brands get their look, and why is it important? Let’s take a look at what the experts say and you’ll soon find yourself looking at branding differently.

Brands have good products

There’s a reason Coca Cola is the first drink we think of when thinking about cola; it’s better than the rest. There’s also a reason why the colonel kept his 11 herbs and spices a secret that KFC continues to this day; it’s better than the rest.

You can’t deny that brands create great products. How that product looks on your end may vary (have you ever had a Big Mac that looks like the picture), but all successful brands work because their products work the best. It is why terms like Velcro, Band-Aid, Chapstick and Post-it are very protective of other companies using their name-brand products and register them as trademarks.

Brands use experts

Companies just don’t slap a label on something and launch it. Brands rely on the help of design experts to help flesh out a product’s look and feel. One of these product design companies, Pearlfisher, put it like this;

“…understanding how people’s needs and desires [change] is creating actionable ways for brands to be more sustainable and lightweight across their entire lifecycle”.

That’s why subtle changes on a Coke can aren’t announced to the world but happen gradually. It’s also why you probably wouldn’t have realised the Starbucks’s mermaid was redesigned in 2011. Experts help keep a brand in check while making it fit in with the times.

Brands test, test, and then test some more

It was recently Veganuary, and it was a big deal for KFC, Burger King, Pizza Hut and Subway to announce they were launching new vegan products. There is one notable name exempt from that list; Mc Donald’s.

In all this news, it seemed odd that McDonald’s weren’t coming out with some incredible new vegan burger, but there’s a good reason for it; they’ve already made one. They just want to keep testing it.

If you’re lucky enough to be living in Toronto and the greater Ontario area, you might be close to one of the 28 locations used to trial their PLT (plant, lettuce and tomato) burger. McDonald’s are sticklers for testing and retesting products until they think they’re ready for a big release. That’s why right now most people wouldn’t know there’s a vegan burger under the golden arches, but when it’s ready, you’re going to hear about it in a big way.

Brands add value

Much like testing, when a brand works well, the most straightforward approach is to rinse and repeat to gain maximum value over time. You’ll see this a lot in advertising campaigns. For example, everyone will have seen one of the ads by Snickers that say, “you’re not you when you’re hungry”.

It might feel like a recent thing, but this campaign has been going since 2010 (their Betty White ad was one of the first). At the time of writing, it’s a campaign that has been going on for over a decade now. And while it seems inconsequential, sales of Snickers went up (according to Campaign Live) by 15.9% globally in the first year alone, and continued to rise as the campaign kept moving along.

That increase meant the campaign was a success and added value, and therefore, was ripe to rinse and repeat again and again. It’s even recently been used in a new light to sponsor WWE events like Wrestlemania and place their wrestlers in “new” ad campaigns.

Become brand-savvy

Next time you’re going to grab a drink in a store, stop and take a second to look at what you’re being offered in an active manner. Pick up on some of the points made here and you could become a savvy shopper.

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