22 Iconic Brand Strategy Examples To Inspire You [by Experts]

Which iconic or unique brand strategies have inspired marketers the most? What have experts picked up that may help you develop your own brand strategy? Check out 20+ examples of stellar branding across all industries.
June 17, 2021

14 minute read

brand strategy examples

22 Iconic Brand Strategy Examples To Inspire You [by Experts]

Which iconic or unique brand strategies have inspired marketers the most? What have experts picked up that may help you develop your own brand strategy? Check out 20+ examples of stellar branding across all industries.

14 minute read

June 17, 2021

brand strategy examples

Contents

Great brand development is about much more than a brand name, a tagline, and a logo. It’s about the messaging, values, and campaigns that make a company memorable. Brand strategy encompasses all the decisions a company makes to ensure its brand identity sticks in the audience’s minds, and build brand equity (the public’s perceived value of a brand).

Which unique and iconic brand strategy examples have inspired marketers the most? What have experts picked up that may help you develop your own brand strategy? We cover 20+ different brands with examples of stand-out branding strategy, which you can filter by industry.

What can you take away from these examples for building your own brand?

  • Remember that people buy into movements and stories.
  • Own the core values your brand stands for, and infuse your purpose into everything you do, even if you anticipate pushback from those who don’t belong to your target market.
  • Use branding you know will connect with your audience.
  • Decide on and push a USP.
  • Use a strong brand positioning strategy to boldly show how your brand stands apart from the competition.
  • Position your brand’s strengths against your competitors’ weaknesses, with smart differentiation.
  • Encourage user-generated content and other word of mouth to further foster brand recognition and trust.
  • Create a brand hashtag.
  • Form strategic partnerships.
  • Craft a stellar customer experience.
  • Use rebranding carefully to highlight overlooked, yet important aspects of your brand.

For more on creating a successful brand strategy, be sure to check out our definitive brand marketing playbook, including our article on assembling a brand strategy template.

Now, let’s dive into the successful brand strategy examples marketers shared.

Iconic Brand Strategy Examples By Industry


Arby’s

“I love what Arby’s did. They owned meat, which considering all the trends going against that (Beyond Meat, etc.), is a bold move. And they didn’t just own it, they were unapologetic about it.  It’s a great example of a brand really understanding their heritage and their customer and not being afraid to alienate some people in order to create deeper connections with the base.” –Lynn Power, MASAMI

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Ben & Jerry’s

“The most notable brand strategy example is Ben and Jerry’s portrayal of their values. Amid protests and a fight for racial justice across the U.S., their true colors and support for the cause shone through in an iconic way. Because of their clear positioning and alignment, they were able to stand out as a brand and even pull back their own official branding to focus on the causes they highlighted.

“Even though their logo wasn’t on the designs they shared, specifically on social media, their brand’s voice was clear and present. Ultimately, they cultivated even more loyal customers, grew their customer base, and got attention in the creative advertising space.” –Chelsie Tamms, Lettering Works

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Chipotle

“One of my favorite excellent brand strategy examples is Chipotle. Chipotle was able to take the spotlight away from Taco Bell as the number one Mexican restaurant in the U.S. by developing a presence as a restaurant that uses fresh, locally sourced products, in contrast to Taco Bell’s “fast food” image.

“In this way, Chipotle created the idea that they were the healthy option between the two choices. Plus, the font used in Chipotle’s designs looks handwritten, which gives us a sense that we’re ‘home’ when eating at the restaurant.” –-Isaac Lauritsen, Online Optimism

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IHOP

“One brand strategy example that generated a lot of buzz was the 2018 IHOB campaign, in which IHOP temporarily rebranded to IHOB in order to promote their new line of burgers. The campaign helped increase their WOM score on the brand index, took over social media, and gained national attention. This campaign helped revitalize interest in the brand as a whole, and helped it be seen as more than a breakfast chain in the minds of consumers.” –Amy Hernandez, electrIQ marketing

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Pipcorn

“I’m impressed with Pipcorn’s innovative strategy. Pipcorn is basically huge bags of mini popcorn sold in retail outlets. What Pipcorn did to start the conversation was to focus entirely on a winning unique selling point. As well as highlighting its taste, Pipcorn focused on targeting the health-conscious, vegan customer.

“If you look at Pipcorn’s advertising and digital presence, you’ll see it’s full of healthy and wholesome terminology such as ‘all natural,’ ‘whole grain,’ ‘gluten free,’ and ‘non-GMO.’ It also touches on corporate responsibility, with phrases like ‘small batches’ and ‘responsibly sourced.’

“The very real result for Pipcorn is that it’s placed itself as a responsible brand that delivers the holy grail of convenience food – a snack that’s delicious, but also vegan, healthy, and without any added nasties. Pipcorn currently enjoys profits of around $1.4 million per year.” –Marcin Muras, Upmenu

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Quorn

“I love Quorn’s positioning as a healthy and sustainable way to enjoy great-tasting, meat-free food. This purpose runs through everything they do, from their partnerships providing vegetarian options to customers and fans of KFC and Liverpool Football Club, to publishing carbon footprint labels on their products.

“Their activity is getting people to think about reducing their meat consumption for both health and environmental reasons. There’s no doubt it’s contributing to more and more people going vegetarian, which is great for Quorn’s business, for people’s health, and for the planet, too.” –Leigh Greenwood, Evergreen PR

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Starbucks

“One of the most effective brand strategy examples we’ve seen so far is Starbucks’ unique idea to write down the customer’s name on the coffee glass when serving the drink. It’s become part of the brand culture and gave rise to a plethora of social media posts, sending Starbucks’ popularity into the stratosphere.

“What’s particularly appealing is that Starbucks makes the simple act of getting coffee as pleasant as possible. As a result, the company managed to revamp customer experience, rise above the competition, and reinforce its positioning on the market.” –Bart Turczynski, ResumeLab

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Everlane

“My favorite brand is Everlane, a women’s clothing brand that focuses on elevated basics. They aren’t the only brand who sells this product, but they are the only brand who speaks to their way of sourcing and pricing their clothes. Everlane’s marketing strategy focuses heavily on how they ethically source their products, pay their employees, etc. Very few other women’s clothing brands are marketing in this way, and it makes Everlane truly stand out.” –Kimberly Gordon, KSG Group

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Nike

“Nike’s switch from a rational to emotional approach in their marketing has been incredibly successful in claiming market dominance. Nike understands people now buy into movements, more than materials. This is a significant competitive edge.

“Customers who wear Nike are essentially advertising the ubiquitous ‘swoosh’ on their body. And with such a recognizable symbol, customers want to align with the brand’s values. And Nike’s emotional angle makes those values loud and clear.” –Mark Hayes, Kintell

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Xero Shoes

“Footwear brand Xero Shoes marketed their sandals as made for travelers. They encouraged their customers to post images on Instagram of their travels while wearing the footwear. The customers used a specific hashtag that would send the pictures to an embedded feed on the Xero Shoes website.

“They now have hundreds of user-generated advertising photos to decorate their website with, as well as an active community spreading the word on social media. This visually attracts the target market of travelers, while creating incredible social proof and customer community.” –Jason McCarthy, Digino

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Dollar Shave Club

“Traditionally, men’s grooming products have focused on masculinity, with advertising that features ruggedly handsome models depicted as being wealthy and successful. But Dollar Shave Club has opted for a more fun and relaxed approach, using models who actually look like the consumers the brand is targeting.

“The brand produced a viral video with straightforward language that resonates with ordinary consumers. The video featured Mike, the founder of Dollar Shave Club, explaining the ethos behind the brand in a deadpan and entertaining way – no fancy sales speak and no over-thinking. The video, which cost just $4,500, had three million views on YouTube within just a few short days.

“As simple as it is effective, this straight-talking strategy is instantly relatable to ordinary men and isn’t afraid to poke gentle fun at itself. Dollar Shave Club has based its strategy around its customers – who they are, what they do, and what they want – and it has worked incredibly well.” –Milosz Krasinski

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Old Spice

“I love how Old Spice reinvented itself with its rebranding. Many of us would have thought of Old Spice as a scent for older generations. In 2010, Old Spice carried out extensive research into their target audience and found that men’s hygiene products are usually purchased by women.

“So instead of continuing to just target men, they released a series of commercials that address women with the punchline ‘when your man smells like Old Spice, you can go anywhere.’ They took a multi-channel approach with their rebranding and kept their audience engaged on social media. This is a textbook example of how creative viral advertising can boost brand awareness levels and help a brand leave the competition in the dust.” Joy Corkery, Latana

Old Spice YouTube Video smell like a man


REI

REI’s #OptOutside campaign has proactively positioned the company as a philanthropic business that wants to make a difference in its communities. This brand strategy resonates with REI’s target demographic and garners significant attention on social channels.

“REI appeals to the pathos of its customers, and as a result, forges strong customer loyalty. Giving back and being charitable are brand strategies available to all companies, and can help make a difference in the world with the added bonus of boosting your sales.”–Tom Mumford, Undergrads Moving

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What REI is doing for the Opt Outside initiative

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Yeti

“I love Yeti’s branding (the cooler and drinkware makers) because it feels incredibly authentic. And I think that’s led to them being a top-performer, even at a premium price-point. Yeti’s products are amazing and have a great reputation for lasting the test of time, while also providing superior results for the customer.

“As an avid outdoorswoman, I like seeing their coolers getting dragged through the elements in ads because I know I’ll be hard on them, too. Showing the capabilities of the gear, in addition to their written content, made me comfortable spending the premium amount for the product. I also love how their primary hashtag is #BuiltForTheWild – how good is that at conveying their intent and branding?” –Lisa Tadewaldt, Urban Forest Pro

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ClickFunnels

“ClickFunnels (software that helps companies attract leads and sell products) has successfully used two strategies to enhance their brand. First, Russell Brunson, one of the co-founders, has developed an impressive personal brand that supports the company.

“Second, the company has published a series of excellent books (e.g., Dot Com Secrets, Expert Secrets, and Traffic Secrets) that provide excellent education to business owners, while positioning ClickFunnels as a leader in digital marketing.” –Bruce Harpham

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TikTok

“One brand which I have been watching closely is TikTok. I’m always fascinated by brands who manage to take the world by storm in a relatively short time. TikTok’s brand strategy is based on fun. The company shares hilarious and bizarre videos of challenges to show how easy it is to make them, and how quickly they can help to build a business’s profile.

“In 2018, TikTok secured its success when it attracted TV giant, Jimmy Fallon, who introduced the #Tumbleweed challenge on his show. TikTok also has a number of celebrity users. TikTok’s brand strategy essentially involves the age-old concept of showing existing consumers having fun with the product in order to attract new customers – which goes to show that, sometimes, the traditional methods still work best despite marketing evolving at breakneck speed.” –Mike Sadowski, Brand24

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Zapier

“In the SaaS space, my favorite brand strategy example has to be Zapier’s integration-led approach for partnering with other brands. Their technique blends SEO, partnership branding, and technical know-how, which helped them generate $50 million ARR for Zapier.

“They identified a clear need to create easy-to-use integrations for a variety of different data sources, each belonging to an already existing and well-known brand. In the beginning, they custom-built these integrations and reached out to perform co-marketing with their prospects.

“This manual partnership outreach gained traction, and within a year they had brands willing to create their own integrations to keep up with competitors that were already listed. Zapier’s database of branded integrations grew to over 2,000, with the large majority created by the partner brands themselves.” –Eleanor Bennett, Logit.io

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GoPro

“What’s so great about GoPro is it was initially positioned as an action-adventure company with a product capable of surviving even the most extreme circumstances. Where they really succeeded was matching and exceeding those claims with the athletes and thrill-seekers they included in their video marketing.

“While we’re not all Olympic-winning athletes like Shaun White, you better believe that when potential customers saw videos of brand ambassadors doing fun and exciting things outdoors with their GoPro cameras, it resonated strongly.

“Consumers wanted to document their own adventures, and GoPro got free exposure by having users all over the globe posting their footage to YouTube and Facebook, which gives them even more traction.” –Damon Winney, Jump Realty

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T-Mobile

“T-Mobile has built a brand strategy around one of the most common complaints people have when it comes to mobile carriers – being tied down to lengthy and confusing contracts. T-Mobile positions itself as a flexible alternative to traditional mobile coverage, which is especially appealing to younger customers who are hesitant to take up long contractual obligations.

“They’ve even introduced financial incentives for customers to leave their current operator. All of this sets them apart from their competition and provides them with a niche that’s built on their competitors’ weaknesses.” –-Nikola Baldikov, Brosix

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Brian Dean (Backlinko)

“In the digital marketing niche, I think it’s worth mentioning that Brian Dean has built his own strong brand from scratch. Brian used his exceptional insight to invent new terms, like the ‘skyscraper link building strategy’ everyone is referring to now.

“Brian has also initiated the rebirth of long-form content, but with a lot more weight and value than previous practitioners. Long-form wasn’t really on the rise until Brian started to publish in-depth, how-to posts. Now, everyone’s starting to follow this trend.

“Brian’s become a trendsetter for thousands of marketers, and his company Backlinko is definitely a brand everyone knows. It’s not easy to build such a powerful brand that will ring a bell with nearly every marketer, so this didn’t happen by accident. Brian used a smart, lean, original strategy to help his brand become prominent.” –Artem Minaev, FirstSiteGuide

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Carvana

“Carvana has one of the strongest branding pushes I’ve seen in a short amount of time. Carvana is an ecommerce store for cars, and by and large the leader in ecommerce automotive sales.

“What Carvana did right was not relying on digital means for advertisement, but instead choosing the unique path of building large ‘car vending machines’ in major metropolitan areas throughout the U.S.. Most of these amazing constructions are positioned within view from interstates, which makes them hard to miss.

“Among all of the other advantages that Carvana offers, such as no in-person dealership hassle, online financing, delivery, and more, the simple idea that someone can go to a Carvana vending machine to pick up their vehicle and watch it come down the pillar has been enough to make some buyers use them. That is powerful brand positioning.” –Matthew Myre, PurpleCup Digital

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Southwest Airlines

“As this little regional airline that ‘grew up,’ Southwest Airlines couldn’t directly compete with the larger airlines at first. They couldn’t rely on a generic brand position and then amplify it with advertising dollars – they had to essentially rewrite the entire airline experience and tie that into their brand strategy.

“They spent a lot of time up-front analyzing their loyal customers, then gave those customers more of the things they liked/wanted. Seemingly small things, like over-the-top customer service and humor with in-flight announcements. Southwest Airlines brought some fun, quirkiness, savings, and another level of customer service into the otherwise serious and monotonous world of travel.” –Landon Ledford, Double L Brands

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