4 Real-World Examples of Successful Branding (2023)

Last updated on February 10, 2023 by Cameron Sheppard

I find it bizarre that an uptick in the number of orbits around the sun is enough to get people moving and complete the tasks they’ve put off for the past 12 months. But I can’t do anything about it, so I’m here to help you make the most out of that newfound motivation.

As the new year begins and people dust off their new year’s resolutions, it’s time to take a look at the dominating brands for both inspiration and motivation. I’ve compiled 4 real-world examples of powerful brands to help you smash that new year’s resolution of growing yours.

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1. Red Bull

RedBull's event page, with several events listed such as the Red Bull BC One World Final

Did you know that Red Bull is actually an Austrian company rather than an American one? I didn’t either, and that’s what makes its branding so great. The ability to align with American values so well is simply impressive.

Holding the position as the most popular energy drink for four years straight now, Red Bull has obviously made some branding moves that we need to talk about.

One of the company’s strategies is its wide presence in sports, where it is known to sponsor various athletes, from eSports to Formula One. Red Bull is also famous for hosting extreme and exciting events such as the FIA World Rally Championship, an auto race that “puts drivers against some of the toughest conditions on the planet,” according to RedBull.

Despite this, it is an energy drink brand at its core. Take a look at this screenshot of Red Bull’s products page with the signature aluminum can and slogan:

A RedBull can next to the text "Gives you Wiiings" with a Products button and Company button

Let’s take a second to admire the can. It’s taller than most other soft drinks and has a two-color base design: blue and light grey. The logo is clearly depictable on the front with the iconic red bulls. It strikes a sense of uniqueness and luxury in the viewer, which is the impression countless brands attempt to make.

And don’t forget the slogan, “Gives you Wiiings” — this speaks directly to RedBull’s target audience, telling them that the drink will keep them sharp both mentally and physically.

How you can imitate Red Bull’s strategy

Red Bull specializes in offering one product: the energy drink. Yes, it comes in many different flavors, but you don’t see the company selling branded chips or hot chocolate. Take note of this and try to center all branding efforts around a product or service that you offer, the one you are most known for. Keep it consistent.

Notice how Red Bull’s logo coincides with its name. Looking at it, you can say “red bull” even when the wordmark is not there. If your planned logo contains some sort of symbol, try to design it in coordination with your brand’s name. A notable example of this is Girl Scouts of the USA, which has three girl scouts ‘scouting,’ in the rough shape of a four-leaf clover.

2. Invisalign

Invisalign providers page with the headline "invis is imagining the possibilities."

Manufactured by Align Technology, Invisalign is known as ‘the’ alternative to braces in dental practices, which is certainly a high praise. The clear aligner is an official sponsor of 11 NFL football teams and holds an advertising spot for Super Bowl LVII.

What stands out in the branding is its clear juxtaposition with braces. Align Technology highlights, in the majority of its marketing, the fact that Invisalign straightens teeth easier, more comfortably, and faster than braces, all while looking like they’re not there.

Not only that, but it also markets to providers of dental practices, even providing them all the digital resources they need to get started. This reach has allowed Align to provide Invisalign technology to more than 14 million people in over 90 countries worldwide.

I particularly like the logo and shades of blue, which almost make you want to smile—perfect for a smile treatment.

How you can imitate Invisalign’s strategy

Choose colors that speak directly to your target audience like Invisalign chose blue to make you smile. Design a unique logo that represents you but is simple enough to be recognized everywhere.

Invisalign relies heavily on reviews and statistics for its marketing tactics, building a reliable brand that customers can be loyal to. Display your positive reviews confidently on your website and advertisements, because customers need something other than just your words. For example, I display my projects right on my homepage.

3. PopCorners

PopCorners front page; headline "Break into SomeThing Good" with the "Br" and the "Th" as chemical symbols of elements on the periodic table

This may seem like a weird choice, but the PopCorners brand is truly a gold mine, and it starts with the first thing you see when you open its website: a poster of its collab with Breaking Bad. How does a chemistry-gone-wild Netflix show relate to a bag of popped-corn chips? I’m asking the same question, but that’s beside the point. This branding is genius.

PopCorners’ Super Bowl advertising debut stars Jesse as he tears open a bag of the famous air-popped chips and calls them “the bomb.” The brand calls it Breaking Good, what a unique twist. You can watch the full advertisement here.

Beyond the never-seen-before collab, PopCorners makes off quite well with its logo’s typography. The font takes a bold sans-serif style and turns it into what I think looks like the definition of cool. Their logo shows that in the end, all you need to be memorable is a simple wordmark.

How you can imitate PopCorners’ strategy

PopCorners must’ve known the chip market was saturated when it introduced itself in 2008, but it sought to provide a healthier alternative. Being a chip that wasn’t fried, but rather air-popped, appealed to people who were trying to be healthier, and thus it experienced rapid growth.

Take your product or service offering and put a twist on it with something that the market hasn’t seen before. Or, if you have trouble coming up with ideas, focus on a specific niche instead. This will keep your brand from being pooled in with all the other Jane Does who do the same thing.

4. PayPal

PayPal US Homepage, with the headline "Shop. Send. Manage." and a screenshot of the mobile app

PayPal unveiled a new brand strategy in June of last year, mainly focusing on the company’s visual identity with regards to its mission. One of the biggest changes was adding gold to its primary color palette, a color that works amazingly well with the main shade of its business, blue.

PayPal also made changes to its logo, which now meets the accessibility standards issued under the Americans with Disabilities Act. This was a big part of the move to become more inclusive with its customers, a move that even included photography of the diverse PayPal community.

The brand has obviously built up a reputation as being a secure method for all types of transactions, all over the world. But every brand starts somewhere.

PayPal arose as a merger in March 2000 between Confinity and X.com, both builders of competing financial products. Around this time, it obtained most of its userbase from eBay, where it provided an online payment system, something that didn’t exist beforehand. It then swiftly grew and expanded into new territory, starting the mobile app that is commonly used today.

But besides the history, I admire all elements of PayPal’s visual identity. The logo is simple and recognizable like the Red Bull logo I discussed earlier, and the colors just work together so well. Another element is the font, PayPal Sans, which is a sans serif that puts mobile first and saves space.

How you can imitate PayPal’s strategy

Know your target audience well and use that knowledge to make your product or service more accessible and inclusive. Ensure that your typography is carefully chosen to be readable on all platforms and at all sizes.

Pay close attention to not only logo design, but also the colors that you use. Use complementary colors that speak directly to your target audience. PayPal does this by using two shades of Cerulean blue, and a complementary sunglow yellow.

Final thoughts

As we start to see big brands make moves in the new year, it can be a boon to your branding strategy to analyze theirs. The best of the best build trust and loyalty with their customers, while also maintaining a timeless visual identity.

Make sure to fulfill that new year’s resolution instead of giving up halfway through the year. Have a good day and make someone smile.

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