Branding: Businesses That Got it Right

Your brand is the way your consumers perceive your business. And spending time and money to create and nurture a strategy, almost certainly guarantees success. A strong brand ensures recognition, informs people of your business’ core values, fosters trust due to familiarity, and most importantly allows you to connect emotionally with your customers.

Here are some household names that got it right:


This coffeehouse chain’s branding efforts appeal mostly to the emotional side of their consumers. The Starbucks brand goes well beyond coffee and is the reason people are willing to stand in long lines and pay for seemingly overpriced coffee. They present customers with an environment for people to combine coffee drinking with productivity; walk past almost every Starbucks store and you’ll see at least three people with laptops and headphones on.

Jackie Mason sums up the charm that Starbucks seems to have on its customers. As well as burnt coffee and long queues, he points out that most of the work is done by us; the customer buying the coffee. We walk to a separate station to find the sugar, or the cold milk, we stir in a sprinkling of cocoa or cinnamon on our Double Ristretto Venti Half-Soy Nonfat Decaf Organic Iced Vanilla Frappuccino. And after we’ve taken our own coffee and slice of cake to the table, we’re still expected to leave a donation in the tip jar.

Have you noticed Starbucks doesn’t advertise on TV or radio? Rather than creating thirty-second ads that would be forgotten within a matter of hours, Starbucks choose to create lasting positive relationships with their customers that encourage loyalty to the brand, focusing on connecting with people in a more human and intimate way.

This idea of nurturing is applicable also to their employees. Starbucks were first to give their employees health insurance and treat them as equal partners. In a sense, Starbucks, by going beyond just a recognizable logo, have created a community that people want to be a part of.


As the brand with the second most likes on Facebook (over 66 million), McDonald’s know exactly who to target and when. In the United States, ads and marketing campaigns are aimed mostly at children, whereas in Japan it’s the adults who are targeted by this fast food giant.

And knowing your market has its perks; offering limited edition items on their menus fills customers with a feeling of importance and a sense of urgency that unless they try a product within the specified time, they may not have the opportunity to do so ever again.

Another ingredient in their recipe for successful branding is consistency. Whether you’re at an airport in London, or on a highway in Middle America, seeing the yellow M offers customers comfort and familiarity. And the consistency doesn’t stop at their logo. Almost every country in the world with a McDonald’s branch offers the same iconic items such as Big Macs. Customers know exactly what to expect which leads them to return to the brand.


IKEA, though established as a home store, goes beyond just furniture. Their logo, which hasn’t seen much of a change since the first store opening in 1943, is bold, bright and is easily recognized. There is no other logo like it.

Every decision made by this brand is intentional. IKEA stores are all set out like a maze, making it incredibly difficult for customers to pop in for just one thing. This means that we are more likely to increase the number of items in our baskets, simply because we are forced to walk along a specific and restricted route which showcases items we didn’t intend on buying.

And speaking of inconvenience, IKEA stores are almost always placed in the most geographically inconvenient locations. Very rarely will you find an IKEA store on a high street, or a mall. This turns a trip to IKEA it into an experience - the drive, navigating through the maze, getting out, having a bite to eat while you’re there. Customers end up spending more time and money in store because it is such a hassle to get there.

More time in store means more opportunities to spend. Interacting with a brand in this way, combined with the company’s reasonably priced yet functional and reliable products, means IKEA has developed an iconic brand.


The Beats logo is strong, bold and recognizable with a unique look which, when it was released in 2008 was completely different to any other headphones on the market.

This brand’s success lies partly in their involvement with celebrities endorsing the product. As well as being associated with music moguls such as Dr. Dre, other celebrities include Olympic athletes such as 23-gold medal Olympic swimmer, Michael Phelps.

Cast your mind back to the London 2012 Olympics, when swimmers entered the pool area, wearing the iconic beats headphones. This outraged Olympic authorities who saw this as free advertising and were quick to issue a warning that the logo must be covered during the Olympic games.

In the Rio 2016 Olympics however, despite this rule, Michael Phelps was photographed with the Beats headphones on, and the logo not covered properly.

This dedication to the brand shows its strength and delivers a message to consumers that it is a brand worth being associated with. In fact, seeing the world’s greatest athletes with the headphones on leads others to associate themselves with the emotional and physical attributes of those wearing the brand - strength, fitness, and agility.

In short, although these businesses cater to different sectors and different consumers, what they all have in common is an exceptional branding strategy and an appeal to the emotional side of the consumer. They are leaders in social innovation in terms of lifestyle, community and social responsibility.


A native of Atlanta, I'm the inside sales manager for a major software company in Georgia. I was always fascinated with the fields of marketing and computers and to be able to combine these two topics together for a living is a dream come true! I'm a huge fan of the Hawks and Falcons (No, not the birds. The teams!). Love old school rock music and that's pretty much all there is to know. For more information, you can visit my website.

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