Understanding the process that we know as branding is not an easy task. For many of us, it’s hard to explain what is the main meaning of this expression. But, that is not strange because here we speak about hard and a very long way from starting a business until climbing to the top.
On the other side, every time we hear the word brand, some sparkling voice in our heads is telling us we know that is something valuable and worthy of buying. Branding can range from food, drinks, clothing, health, and wellness, etc.
If you think a bit about branding, what would you say this word means? Is it only the company name, a sign or picture, a word or something similar? Whatever you choose from the examples given before, you would be wrong.
Branding is a complex activity of making consumers over the years change, in a positive way, their perception of quality connected to some specific logo and name. It is a process which gathers everything at one place, starting from the visual identity of some product, or group of products, over the beliefs of people about particular advantages they will get with their choice.
One of the Oldest American Companies
Not many companies in the USA are as old as Colgate. Yes, the Colgate we know today was founded in 1806 and since that time it’s struggled with challenges on the market. However, William Colgate, who was a founder, didn’t think about producing toothpaste at that time.
The development of this company has brought many changes and new experiences. During more than 200 years of existence, the main scope of business was changing. The small store for soaps and candles turned out in perfume producer in 1866. The first toothpaste came in jars like aromatic edition, while in 1989 they introduced their first Palmolive soap after they merged with this company in 1928.
What was the main advantage of Colgate? Even in far 1817, the founder knew how important it was making advertisements. He stepped out with new ideas and shared them with his family and employees. Once the time came for a change because William passed away, his son Samuel was ready to keep up the good job. He wanted to continue a good, family work ethic that his father started because that was something left to him from his loved one.
The company was developing business step by step, and slowly it became something recognizable in all homes. The revolution started with Colgate toothpaste we know today as it is hard to imagine any store without this product today. For a long time, this toothpaste was a recommendation from a big number of dentists. This company entered our lives by showing us we really need their products, as that was the only logical way to make us love them.
Although now they have strong competitors in the area of oral hygiene, they were pioneers in this business. Do you think it was easy for them to become part of your home and everyday routine? Looking back through their history, it will show you nothing is easy, especially creating a brand.
The Achievement of a Student
While hygiene is a “must have” model for all of us, with sports equipment we have a different situation. Producers of sports shoes and clothes need strong arguments to make us believe their products are worthy of our attention. One of those with a successful story behind is Nike, formerly known as Blue Ribbon Sports.
With it’s headquarters in Oregon, this company is one of those with very high income every year. But, it wasn’t always like that. In 1964 Bill Bowerman, former coach at the University of Oregon, and his former student Phil Knight started their first job with only $1,200 on their bank account. Would you agree that was not some impressive value?
The name Nike was not planned for a company at the beginning, but somehow one of the very first employees, Jeff Johnson, has suggested this name by getting the idea of the Greek victory goddess. It looks like the victory was meant to be in the future for these guys. Was that only the result of circumstances or did the founders knew how to push the company in the right direction?
Today, there is a specific Nike logo, which is a recognizable logo all over the world. It was not the working result of many professionals who decided to make it, but only the outcome of a talented student at Portland State University, Carolyn Davidson. This sign, known as Swoosh, survived some changes over the years. But, still, it kept the originality. Since the time it had appeared in 1971, the brand creation has started. Nike pushed Swoosh in 1971 together with Just Do It. Today we can see the results of Nike’s big efforts. Although Swoosh sign cost only $35 as an idea, today it is worth $26 billion.
If you think that opening stores all around the world was enough for success, you are not thinking in the right direction. Together with big investments in numerous acquisitions, Nike had a good policy of promoting their brand throughout different sports events. Many famous people from different sports promoted their equipment and some of them are as follows:
・ Ilie Nastase – the first Romanian tennis professional who started contracting for Nike’s promotion
・ Michael Jordan – famous basketball player
・ Eldrick Tont “Tiger” Woods – American golf player
・ Mariel Margaret “Mia” Hamm – professional soccer player
・ Roger Federer – professional tennis player
Today, Nike has the biggest store in Oxford Street, in London and this one covers around 42,000 feet on three different levels. Hard to believe? Once the brand was created, the limits stopped existing.
The Favorite International Drink, or Not?
Did John Pemberton, a pharmacist from Atlanta, know that his invention of a new, specific soft drink will change the world starting from the far 1886? Even if he knew, he was probably the only one with that belief at that time. The first series of Coca-Cola were on sale in Jacobs’ Pharmacy, at a price of only $0.05 per glass. They were able to sell only 9 glasses daily, that was the maximum in the first year.
As the name for the new product was needed, Pemberton’s bookkeeper, Frank Robinson created one at that time. The name Coca-Cola was nothing more than a simple need for bookkeeping. However, Frank used a distinctive script and thus the way he wrote the name on the paper is the only way how Coca-Cola was written from the beginning.
The inventor was not a young man, and he knew he would not live for long. He decided to sell his business and the main buyer was Asa Candler, who expanded sales all around Atlanta. The idea was to sell this sparkling drink through soda fountains, and this was the lucky start for a new drink.
A bottling of Coca-Cola started in 1894 and expanded in 1899. At that time, three businessmen bought a new developing product for only $1, with all exclusive rights for bottling. The business was moving fine and even competitors arrived. But, nobody was able to reach the glory of a pioneer because the first bottle with contoured shape under the name Coca-Cola was ready in 1977.
A new drink became popular because advertising was going in the right direction. Producers were claiming this was the best choice for the time of gathering with friends or family, a real refreshment after a hard day and the best choice for those who would like to have a fun.
The bottle of this drink survived evolution over the years. Campaigns were big and very well selected. What Coca-Cola did was magnificent, as they even connected Santa Claus with their creative advertising. That was the way how to reach young people too.
In some moments, this drink played a good role in political relations. Somehow, it helped to overcome problems with race relations. Selling of it in bottles helped people who didn’t have access to fountains to consume this powerful drink. They say even Martin Luther King was the one who liked to sit in front of the fountains and get a refreshing drink.
If we consider everything the Coca-Cola did back in the history, it is obvious they were born to be leaders. Even packages of six bottles are their invention and today all beverage companies have the same pack for their bottles.
Nowadays, you probably can’t find anybody around who hasn’t at least heard about Coca-Cola. The popular name Coke, that was introduced a long time ago is connected to a good time and happy moments. Today, daily servings are far away from only 9 glasses like at the beginning. It is estimated that on average there are around 1.9 billion servings. Are you among those people who gave their trust to this fabulous drink?
The Leaders in Fast Food
Not only drink is attractive to people, but food as well. When it comes to the invention, which considers the modern concept of fast food sales, McDonald’s restaurants might be the best example.
The founder of this world-wide concept was Ray Kroc, the man who got the idea from a small restaurant in California, that was initially the place for selling hot dogs. He just used the concept the brothers Richard and Maurice Mac McDonald made in their small, but fast serving place. They were selling franchises when he started to work for them as their franchise agent in 1954. When the time passed, he took the license from them, bought the business for $2.7 million and since 1961 we got the new McDonald’s System Inc.
What differs this restaurant from the others? Kroc tried to make a specific system that will put the focus not only on the menu and food choice but also on the general look of the place, type of service, quality principles and other values. And, he did that. Besides, he made a concept of self-service in the restaurant and self-cleaning after the meal.
Thanks to very strict rules and his open-minded approach, this man made a real revolution with franchises all over the world. In 1961 there was a launch of a Hamburger University because Kroc wanted to be sure the restaurants in every part of the world will follow the concept. More than 275,000 graduated here, although some information claims it is very hard to become part of this specific school. Some people say it is harder to become part of this educational method than to get into Harvard. Besides, the food served in restaurants follows the pattern of national tradition and it is totally adjusted to the mentality and habits of people.
However, in 1984 Ray Kroc had passed away, but the concept continued to live. In almost every country you can have crispy french fries, triple-thick milkshakes, and different types of hamburgers. The best locations beside the highways are reserved for this fast food restaurant because passengers like to take a break during their journeys. The sign of McDonald’s is always visible from the distance, and we hardly ever avoid stopping by at least to buy and take our meals.
Today, this company is a working place for many Americans. If we consider all the people who work in America, one in every 8 belongs to a successful chain of the restaurants. Even many celebrities worked here before they got famous, and some of them are as follows:
・ Pink – today famous singer
・ Sharon Stone – an attractive American actress
・ Jeff Bezos – the founder of Amazon
・ Seal – another great singer from the USA
Of course, this is only a short list. But, McDonald’s was like a home for many of them.
Children also like to eat in this restaurant because it is one of the largest toy distributors. These toys come with happy meals, and they play a big role in the sales. Through many years and hard work, McDonald’s became a brand worldwide.
The Art of the Online Trade
Just after we told you that Jeff Bezos was working in McDonald’s, we are passing to the next stage of this article. Yes, this man became famous thanks to his innovative thinking.
In 1995, he decided to launch a web page for online trade. No, he didn’t want to have something specific on this web page, he wanted just the opposite. This online space was planned to be your online store for everything you might need.
Today, we all know about Amazon because this is a brand. If you try to find something online, this site will come as the result of your search mostly on the top of the list. However, this was not the name given at the beginning. Jeff Bezos tried with Cadabra first, but somehow this name was not distinctive and after some time was changed to Amazon.
In the beginning, the sales department in this new-born company was serving customers from the garage, every time when the bell rings. But, suddenly the bell was ringing too often and the sales in the first month grow up to the 50 states thanks to books.
Amazon began in the garage of founder Jeff Bezos’ home in Washington State. The site was launched on July 16 1995.
There were not many employees at Amazon at first, only the owner, his wife and one worker. It was not easy to maintain the site. In 1998, they faced a big problem before the Christmas holidays because they couldn’t manage deliveries so easily. Since that time, Amazon has started with seasonal employment. But, even that was not enough, because during the holidays they experience a big rush. The conditions of work were bad and many people were unsatisfied.
The Kindle books started to live on Amazon. Employees worked on this project and the sales of cheap books were going up. The first project in this area was named Fiona, but after a successful job, Bezos decided that the Kindle is the more appropriate name.
People say it is hard to work with Jeff, who has very strong demands and high goals. Maybe, his people are not so satisfied with his leadership, but one is obvious – whatever you need to buy online, you can find it on Amazon.
Why Is Branding Important?
Although branding is a very hard process that saps people’s energy, it is something very important in the life cycle of a product. We have many products around, but they are not all recognizable.
In this article, we told you in short only a few successful stories, but there are many stories around which could change those we mentioned. Could your story be a part of a similar article in the future?
Try to think about different logos you remember. All of them are cleaning up the path to success. Once these logos cross your mind for good reason, the companies are sure they did a good job.
William Munir, Chief Marketing Officer of Destine Nutrition, a supplement company specializing in smarter ways to live a healthier and more productive life.
Also published on Medium.