Marketers, looking for ways to take your branding strategy to the next level? Here are 35 ideas and examples of brands that are doing it right.
1. Go full-on Branson
Virgin Group gets brand extensions right, creating new products in categories such as airlines, hotels, communications, and banking. Not all of those ventures succeed, but they are always aligned with Virgin's daring attitude and tone of voice.
2. Adapt your formula to meet consumer concerns
Once, Aspartame was OK. Now, consumers are worried it might be dangerous for their health. PepsiCo has announced it will stop using aspartame as a sweetener in its drinks.
3. Attack your competition
That's risky, but also memorable. Apple and Microsoft have engaged in a series of ads comparing each other's products. If you think you might lose, better skip this one.
4. Partner up
This is like dating a 10 to make you less of a 6. Harnessing another brand's appeal might make you cooler. Target's collaboration with designers such as Missoni and Zac Posen helped elevate the store's fashion game.
5. Deliver similar benefits in a different shape
Tide fights stains at home; Tide Pen delivers stain-fighting power in a convenient way for on-the-go clumsy coffee drinkers.
6. Go on a diet
Coke tastes great with a burger. Diet Coke has no calories, helping you eat more burgers.
7. Dominate your vertical
Planters knows everything about peanuts; therefore, Planter's Peanut Butter must be great.
8. Get your audience more of what they love
Oprah Magazine offers content to fans who can't get enough of O's wisdom through TV and her book club alone.
9. Bank on your brand's prestige to sell big-ticket items
Luxury brand Fendi is branching out into real estate, developing FENDI Château Residences in Miami.
10. Get a mascot
Do you wish Mr. Clean could show up and clean your house? I do.
11. Go after the hipsters
With smart branding and product placement, Pabst Blue Ribbon reinvented itself from cheap to hip.
12. Start speaking Spanglish
Taco Bell's "Live Más!" tagline is young and fresh, and it resonates with a growing multicultural millennial population.
13. Get a new logo
Every now and then GAP updates its logo to keep up with the times. It also reverts back to the previous logo when the new one doesn't work.
14. Get a new name
Blue Ribbon Sports wanted a new name to bring its confident spirit to life. It found a much better name: Nike.
15. Sell subscriptions
Dollar Shaving Club completely disrupted the market for shaving supplies. Enough with struggling with the locked shelves at CVS!
16. Sharpen up your brand identity
People can identify UPS and T-Mobile ads without reading anything. Resist the urge to reinvent your look all the time; find something you can keep for the long run.
17. Go after a new demographic
Budweiser created a new bow-tie can and ad campaign to entice millennial consumers to give it a try.
18. Started online? Now add brick and mortar
Warby Parker started as a designer-eyewear online store. It has since opened stylish showrooms that bring in customers not yet familiar with its digital shopping experience.
19. Create a new pastime
Go Pro created a product that resonated with people's increasing interest for sharing their life through social media. GoPro enthusiasts are now documenting sports, family life, and travel in a way only GoPro enables them to do.
20. Create a cause
Dove's Campaign for Real Beauty created a discussion about self-acceptance and expanded into confidence-building programs for girls around the world.
21. Enter a new market/geography
Expand into a new market and find new customers. Sounds simple, but it's actually one of the hardest strategies on this list to implement.
22. Find a new use for the same product
Make a prom dress or a book cover? Repair a taillight? Check. Check. Fans keep finding new uses for duct tape.
23. Create a loyalty program
Keep your existing consumers happy. Amazing service and product, along with special rewards, points or miles, helps keep them coming back.
24. Use direct marketing
Ann Taylor has a solid email program, with targeted offers, flash sales, and first-look promotions of new collections for its best clients.
25. Adopt new packaging
Plum Organics was a pioneer of food pouches for babies and toddlers.
26. Do green better than the competition
Method found a way to make earth-friendly products that aren't hippie. Its packaging is stylish and the fragrances go beyond the predictable citrus and lavender.
27. Become a sponsor
P&G's sponsorship of the 2012 London Olympic Games alongside its "Thank you mom" campaign offered heart-warming ads featuring athletes and their families.
28. Show you truly care
Become the Zappos in your industry. Make customer care your thing, and go above and beyond. Your clients will come back—and bring their friends.
29. Have a unique brand voice
Check Charmin's campaign #tweetfromtheseat. The brand has managed what seemed impossible: To create fun and cute bathroom humor.
30. Empower your internal advocates
REI's employees embody the company's outdoorsy lifestyle; they know a lot about the products, and they're glad to bring rookies into their world.
31. Get your brand ambassadors talking
Smart companies get their fans to do all the talking on their behalf. BMW has hardcore fans connected through social media, constantly sharing their love for the brand.
32. Create an event
Red Bull events, filled with contests and stunts, truly reflect the brand's daredevil personality. They also provide a wealth of content for the brand to use for connecting with fans.
33. Create a referral program
Dropbox's refer-a-friend program helped the company boost memberships by giving free storage space to members and the friends they bring in.
34. Stretch your brand to other segments
Luxury brands do it all the time: Armani, for example, created Armani Jeans and Armani Exchange to cater to segments that desire the brand's status and style at lower price points.
35. Be an authority in your field
Rachel Zoe started as a stylist, telling people what to wear and creating a name as an expert in fashion. Once she launched her fashion line, it became an instant success.