Principles of branding

What is a brand? How do you create an effective brand that differentiates your company's products and services from others in your industry? Find out in our latest post.
Article by Simon Steed
Branding Simplepage

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Branding Simplepage

Branding is so much more than just a logo, a colour scheme or design, yet it may influence all of these factors. As famous designer Paul Rand once said:

“Good design adds value of some kind, gives meaning, and, not incidentally, can be sheer pleasure to behold.”

-Paul Rand

He should know; he has worked to develop brands for some of the biggest companies in the U.S. including IBM, Ford, UPS and ABC to name a few. Some of Paul Rand’s most famous work was produced during the 60’s: at one point he famously charged $100,000 for a single logo design and outright refused to work with non-reputable companies even if they were willing to pay his fees.

Paul’s reputation and past successes meant that he could set his own rules for any project, no matter the value. In 1992 Steve Jobs famously revealed that he tried to persuade Paul to do some branding for Next Computers. In an interview, Steve said:

“I asked him if he would come up with a few options. And he said, “No. I will solve your problem for you. And you will pay me. And you don’t have to use the solution. If you want options, go talk to other people. But I’ll solve your problem for you the best way I know how. And you use it or not. That’s up to you. You’re the client. But you pay me.”

-Steve Jobs

Paul knew the formula to use to create a winning and highly effective brand. Much of his work is still in use and looks just as fresh now as it did when he first came up with it. To this day, many aspiring branding professionals will charge large fees to aim for this goal: to develop a brand idea that is highly effective and will withstand the test of time.
Yet for many small to medium sized businesses and SMEs, these sorts of fees can be hard to justify. Many will see this as unnecessary expenditure which could probably be better spent elsewhere.


A brand is your idea; your ethos or a type of image you wish to project to your customers. Your brand should be reflected in how you interact with customers and the language you use in relation to your company and its products and services.

Strong brands originate from a strong ethos. Consider Apple: they promise customers quality, reliability and innovation in all the devices they produce. Yet this quality cannot be conveyed without the devices themselves being well made and innovative. Their company motto is “Think different” and you can see how this motto provides the backbone to their business and influence on every aspect of their brand identity.


A brand needs to offer good value to customers, not just through products but throughout every aspect of the business and the customers experience. Brands can change the world by offering the power to create trust as well as encourage and persuade a potential audience.

Consider an energy drink such as Red Bull, sponsor of many sporting and high performance and extreme events. Brands such as these like to encourage the idea of pushing boundaries and capabilities of what is humanly possible in fitness and sport. The hope is that customers will go on to associate the brand with these positive feelings whenever they are reminded of it.


A great brand should be simple to interpret, instantly recognisable and easy on the eyes. Really, it boils down to communicating your message to your audience in the quickest and mo

In many cases, there will be many companies supplying the same products or services, so your branding becomes essential for separating yourself apart from the competition. The secret to doing this effectively, is not by flooding your audience with messages, facts, figures but to connect with their emotions.


It’s important not to underestimate the effect of Word of Mouth in all of this. Consider a full page advert in a newspaper which may cost around £2,600 with a TV advert costing around £6,000 per day.

A well-written, engaging article with a nice photograph can easily end up on several news sites, shared via social media platforms and similar places reaching more of the right kind of audience for you.


To identify your company's successful brandable attributes you need to first consider your brand by identifying its most defining features. Why and how is it different from the others in your industry? When a market is filled with many companies making similar offerings, customers will naturally be drawn to things that are fresh and new.


The success of a company's brand comes down to knowing what you’re good at and concentrating on this and nothing else. We see many companies try to be all things to all people, and often fail at all of them. Focusing on a limited set of products and services and ensuring they are produced to a high standard is the best way to attract and build your loyal customer base.


It takes a lot of investment and time to develop a brand and for it to gain popularity. Creating a sub-brand - under some conditions - can detract from the main brand and weaken the overall focus.


How do companies justify the high cost of a certain product? Consider the latest Apple X phone at almost £1,000 and yet you can buy a phone with almost the same level of hardware and similar features as the Blueboo 4G at £125 . The secret of the pricing.


The majority of globally recognisable brands have been around for 100 years or more. A quick search shows that the most successful companies have made very little change to their brand or logo over its lifetime, despite the fact that many CEOs will have considered changing it at one point or another. Yet by altering any major aspect of the brand they would risk damaging the brand and company, so instead minor alterations are applied to bring the brand back to life and keep it up-to-date.


As hopefully is shown here, a brand is much more than a quick logo and design, it’s about building your company image so customers can understand what your company is all about and what makes your products and services unique: this takes time and investment and is always best underpinned by a strong brand.