November 25, 2014 Branding en_US How to Build Your Brand in Unlikely Places

How to Build Your Brand in Unlikely Places

By Katherine Gustafson November 25, 2014

Making your branding a more integrated part of what you sell will put you in a good position to inspire new and loyal customers and increase your revenue. According to research by Booz Allen Hamilton,“brand-guided companies” tend to be twice as profitable as the average players in their industries.

There are all manner of places where you express your brand identity. Think of your website’s buried pages, the outside and inside of your packaging, your product tags, and more. These hidden spots are just waiting for some fresh branding treatment.

Get Creative with Your Error 404 Page

A “page not found” (error 404) notice may seem like your website’s no man’s land. But that’s exactly why doing something interesting on this page can contribute nicely — and inexpensively — to your branding efforts: Customers are pleasantly surprised to find you are both spunky and thorough enough to turn even your 404 page into a canvas for your creativity.

Some great examples include:

  • The New Yorker’s error page, which features one of the magazine’s iconic cartoons: An image of a rat in a maze with a GPS on its nose, accompanied by a quote that reads “Recalculating … recalculating…”
  • Performance gear maker The North Face’s 404 page, which displays a picture of a man nose-to-nose with a goat above the words, “The Page You Requested was Eaten. Goats do all sorts of nifty things to keep humans off the mountains, such as sabotaging your favorite gear and apparel website by eating our links and pages.” 
  • Golf company Titleist’s 404 page, which features the words “Sorry, but we can’t seem to find the page you are looking for” atop a picture of a bunch of golfers searching in long grass for a lost ball. 
  • Yoga apparel maker Lululemon’s error page, which provides instructions for how to do a “404asana.”

Make the Most of Your Packaging

Of course, packaging is an obvious place to reinforce your brand. But what about pleasantly surprising your customers with messages and images in places they don’t expect? Or what about making the packaging itself into the brand expression? The possibilities for creative self-expression are endless.

Some great examples include:

  • The “Real Facts” that Snapple prints under its bottle caps, such as “In Albania, nodding your head means no and shaking your head means yes,” and “The most popular pet name in the United States is ‘Max.’”
  • The funny comments etched on the bottom of Innocent smoothie bottles, such as “Stop looking at my bottom.” These were submitted by Innocent customers in a contest in 2012 — a fun marketing idea that got customers into the game.
  • The race car gear-shift image on the top of the bottle caps for Elderton’s Neil Ashmead GTS wine.
  • The iconic jokes on Laffy Taffy candy wrappers, including the classic: “Q: Why did the stoplight turn red? A: Wouldn’t you if you had to change in the middle of the street?”
  • The animal target practice image on the backside of blister pack for digestion aid Nobilin.
  • The functional packaging for Butter! Better! in which the top of the package becomes the spreading knife.

Up Your Labeling Game 

You can’t not brand a label — even a blank white label with plain black type portrays a certain brand identity. But you can make your labels work a lot harder to show that your brand has a little extra something.

Some great examples include:

  • Tags you can plant, with the seeds mixed right in to the paper. Every time customers looks at the pot of flowers or herbs grown from your tag, they’ll think of you.
  • The hidden tongue-in-cheek labels on each pair of Lucky jeans. On that strip of denim behind the zipper, a little cloth label proclaims “Lucky you.”
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Katherine Gustafson is a freelance writer based in Seattle, Washington. Read more