What Is Product Branding? Plus Three Awesome Examples

Branding for Packaging

What Is Product Branding? Plus Three Awesome Examples

Pick up any product in a store and you’ll be staring directly at product branding. Branding can funnel down into many steps from parent company branding, subsidiary branding and all the way down to the specific products in a line of products or services. Think American Express’s Black Card, the McFlurry, and Flamin’ Hot Cheetos. Products can have unique personalities that can sometimes eclipse their parent brand.

What is Product Branding?

Product branding uses a unique set of marketing elements to help a product or line of products stand out from the competition. Companies use product branding to define the way a specific product’s image is presented to its target consumers.

Specific branding policies promote the idea behind the product through logos, images, designs, colors, and many other marketing resources to place the product in the customer’s mind. Product brands extend beyond corporate environments. Nonprofits and government institutions also use specific branding for services they provide.

Branding Basics

The market has millions of products. The name, symbol, sign, product, service, logo, or person who makes you distinguish a product from other products, is a brand. It helps consumers to identify the product and the company behind it. A product that has a name, which can be recalled and is relatable, is a brand. A brand can’t be seen or touched; it can only be felt. The brand can take years to gain the trust of customers.

A brand is a combination of three things. Promise, wants, and emotions. It’s a promise made by the company to its customers that what they’ll get after they buy the company’s products. It fulfills all the wants of the customers. It’s an emotion that the customers are attached to. The brand creates an expectation in consumers which the promises made by the company under the brand will be fulfilled by those products they use.

How is Product Branding Different from Company Branding?

Products are goods, services, or the combination of the two, that are available from a company for sale to the end consumer. They can be in physical or non-physical form.

The product has its own life span. After the expiration of that period, the product becomes obsolete. Then, a product needs to be reinvented or rebranded in order to remain relevant. Products are relaunched with some new features and branding attracting the attention of today’s customers.

Product branding focuses on a single product or line of product outside of the parent company’s brand. Depending on marketing strategy, product branding has many options. It can piggy-back off of the brand recognition of its parent company or offer a fresh way to rebrand without committing to a full company brand overhaul. It also allows a product to stand out from other lines a company may offer.

Differences Between Corporate Branding and Product Branding

Overall Messaging vs. Narrow Messaging

Corporate branding needs an overall message, while product branding calls for a narrow message. The difference is that the overall message stands for a company-wide idea that highlights what a corporation stands for.  Narrow messaging for product branding is like looking at a specialized item or group of items. With corporate branding, elements such as values, beliefs, ideas, goals, and behavior become the focus. In regard to product branding, the product itself, it’s features and benefits are the focus.

Cross-Sector Branding

The well-positioned corporate brands normally market themselves to a variety of areas. Those “corporate brands” have a range of products targeted to particular niches. This approach allows for growth across different sectors.

Duration of Approach

You can observe the branding differences in the duration of a branding approach. Corporate branding remains stable over time. We see that with logos that haven’t changed in decades. This gives consumers a point of familiarity. On the other hand, product branding is easier to update.  Designed to be more agile, it can flip as the market changes or the product develops.

Target Audience

The target of corporate branding is customers and shareholders. In contrast, product branding primarily targets end consumers. Promoting a company brand involves different techniques. Thus, product and corporate branding require separate strategies.

Corporate Branding and its Product Influence Role

Corporate branding is a necessary feature for creating and maintaining belief within your company. The story your company promotes to staff is important for them to support and live the brand and its values. Employees invested in the brand at every level should be ambassadors of your brand. They’ll consistently communicate your brand values and voice.

Although consumers and products are where the final sales exist, corporate branding is becoming even more important. Consumers choose to align themselves with brands that reflect their own beliefs. In order to be successful today, you need to have a meaningful and trustworthy corporate brand. Products and their individual brands live within the umbrella of your corporate brand. Just imagine what public reception a health food line would receive if a cigarette manufacturing brand attempted to introduce it. No amount of product branding could allow this line to escape its corporate brand impression. That said, many corporations distance themselves completely from their product brands. For instance, did you know Nestle owns Hot Pockets or PepsiCo owns Quaker Oats?

The Advantages of Product Branding


Small businesses that create strong brands build preference for their products. When consumers have choices in a store, they’ll favor a brand they’ve bought before and trust. This is an advantage if you generate products that consumers purchase frequently, like food or household products. A strong brand is paramount to customer loyalty.

As consumers have focused on small-batch, artisanal products, larger companies have begun to purchase and introduce their own line of “small business brands” that have a halo of craft experiences and socially-driven values. Some brands today are specifically designed to look small and artisanal even when they are actually owned by major corporations.


Branding your product can improve the return of revenue on your marketing budget. Communicating the same messages and using brand elements such as logo, packaging, and graphics consistently helps reinforce the brand’s qualities. Building a brand that customers can easily remember and recognize can reduce your marketing costs long term.


A powerful brand can help you launch new products or enter new markets. Providing new products, brand elements, and qualities that consumers recognize and trust reduces the risk of failure. The original product can launch off-shoot products in a different category. Because your audience associates the new product with the existing brand qualities, it’s easier to convert a sale.


Branding can assist in an increase in revenue and grow your customer base. By promoting your brand consistently, you can herd prospects and clients through different levels of brand familiarity. Brand recognition happens when consumers can recall a brand’s qualities. Brand preference happens when customers choose your brand over others because of their satisfaction. You’ve achieved brand insistence when consumers seek out your product and won’t accept a substitute.


A solid brand can protect market share and create walls for competitors. Competitors who enter your sector have to make an investment in brand development and marketing to match their strengths. Branding can also maintain price point levels. When consumers insist on your brand, they’ll be willing to pay for the product instead of lower-priced offerings.

Examples of Successful Product Branding

Cheetos vs. Ruffles

Most of us can visualize the branding of Cheetos and Ruffles. Cheetos focuses on orange, the same color as their snacks, Chester Cheeto, and your fingers once you’ve had a few. Ruffles, on the other hand, has a white branding palette that by no coincidence matches most popular chip dips. Ruffles, after all, is designed for dipping. While Cheetos goes a little wild with their cartoon mascot and outrageous seasonal flavor options, Ruffles stays classic, the stalwart of snacking. Neither brand looks anything like their parent company, Frito Lay’s branding. Imagine how confusing it would be if Frito Lay had tried to make their branding and that of both products the same. We might find ourselves accidentally dipping our Cheeto into a bowl of French Onion dip.

Gillette: One Company, Many Razors

Gillette is a brand with legs (smooth, shaved legs, no doubt). They’ve been around for over 120 years. You would think there would be only one type of razor blade to make to shave hair off of skin. But you would be missing a major marketing opportunity if you thought that way. Today Gillette has a variety of different razors, all with their own unique marketing. Take the Fusion5 which has its own logo, branding, and ad campaigns. There’s also the newly launched Planet KIND, a full line of more sustainably-sourced shaving and skincare products, which features a cool seafoam green branding, a nod to the “greening of the Gillette blue brand. This line has a whole other look from Fusion or the other razors the company offers, and you’d hardly know it was from Gillette and not an eco-friendly start-up.

Coca-Cola: Share A Coke

Coca-Cola is no stranger to creating effective marketing campaigns, but one stands out amongst others. Their “Share A Coke” campaign continues to serve as a unique, effective example of brand marketing. By replacing their signature logo with the names of their customers, the soft drink brand has been able to provide a personal touch that few other brands have ever been able to achieve. By leveraging various partnerships and clever ads, Coke continues to evoke emotional responses that resonate with its kind-hearted and supportive brand massaging.

Creating an effective brand marketing strategy enables your company to develop campaigns that go beyond showcasing product features to allow you to display your brand values or brand intangibles. When executed correctly, these campaigns elicit an emotional response from your customers that build loyalty and result in repeat business.

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