Three Branding Strategy Lessons From Iconic Brands

Three Branding Strategy Lessons From Iconic Brands

When designing your branding strategy, look towards iconic brands. After all, brands like Apple, Starbucks, Marlboro and others are sellers of something more than just their products. 

And this is exactly what you should be doing too, Howard University marketing professor Angela Hausman writes in an article for Business2Community. In the article she outlines the three pillars, which make up the foundation of the the strategy for these brands.

Provide a great product
You could easily guess what the first one is — offering a quality product or service. Even though your ultimate goal is to develop your brand image to the point where it transcends the product itself, you just can’t get there by being bad at what you do.


Look at the previously mentioned brands. If you’re too picky, you’d probably be able to name some of their competitors that provide better products. But on the other hand, you can’t really argue that those products are terrible, can you? Having a good quality product, Hausman explains, is not the only ingredient needed for building a strong brand.

But it is an absolute necessity. Start from there, and then build you strategy on top of that.

Propose a unique offering
The second important thing is that your offer should be unique. This doesn’t necessarily mean that your product or service has to be extraordinary . Your offer or “selling proposition,” however, should be unique, and you can create an extraordinary proposition even with a product that is downright mundane.


Hausman mentions Starbucks as an example. It’s a chain of coffee places — nothing extremely out of the ordinary. But what Starbucks is actually selling is not the coffee, but the cosy store environment — a cool, hip place, where you can actually sit down and work on your laptop, or simply hang out with friends.

Such unique selling propositions (USPs) work only when they are centred on the customer and if they are constantly evolving to stay ahead of competitor’s offers, Hausman notes.

Create a brand myth
The third thing you should focus your branding strategy on is a brand myth. Consumers are looking for an experience, but also for a model and an ideal to live by. Take Marlboro’s brand strategy, built around the myth of The Marlboro Man — the rugged cowboy that reeked of strength, independence and power to control his environment. Dos Equis did something similar with the Most Interesting Man In The World.

Both characters possess qualities that the regular consumer doesn’t — but wishes he or she did. By buying the product, Hausman explains, such consumers are trying to buy said qualities, even though they are just a myth (real life cowboys were nothing like the Marlboro Man, and the Dos Equis guy just doesn’t exist). This creates a relationship between buyer and brand — that, in turn, forms the latter’s iconic status.

Here at Catalyst we strongly believe in the extraordinary. Does your brand have what it takes to become iconic? We think so, and we can help you make it happen.

By Joe Birkedale.