3 Brand Mavericks Who’ve Mastered Branding and Design Supremacy


In many ways, design and branding are two very close siblings who exist solely to benefit and enhance the other. Oddly enough, many companies don’t treat them as siblings. I’ve always looked at branding as an aspirational stance a company takes in broadcasting their purpose – both visual and non-visual.

Below are companies that consistently blend design and branding into a cohesive and impactful message.


Swedish home décor maker has been perfecting their brand essence and personality since 1943, and continue to reinforce simplicity and great design at a price. They are the world’s largest furniture retailer (revenue), but usually that means mundane commodity driven products. So, how does this DIY cool company stay relevant?


Design and Experiential Differentiation 

The first impression you get when walking in an IKEA is pricey. The modern sleek and colorful merchandising visuals give the impression of an expensive store – initially. But, oddly enough they are very reasonably priced. Customers who are absorbed by the experience walk away feeling like they got a great value for their money. The overall merchandising visual takes you in, and the beautifully crafted product leads the customer through a maze of cool everyday items.

Ever wonder why people fill up their shopping carts and say, “I didn’t come here to buy all this stuff.” The design ecosphere swept them off their feet.


There’s not a Uniqlo in every major city in the U.S., but the people that do have one appreciate the clear vision, product direction and spirit of the brand. Their mission is to re-invent men’s and women’s basic apparel by updating it with fabric innovation and a rainbow of vibrant colors. Currently, they have over 840 stores in Japan and 1,170 outside of its borders. The U.S. has a total of 17 stores currently.


Design and Experiential Differentiation 

Remember Colors of Benetton (I know they’re still around – barely)? They were cool though. Well, Uniqlo is a version of them on steroids with a few exceptions. Their approach is to use scale (big stores) to create a kaleidoscope of colorful styles that appeal to the fashionista or the person who just likes basic colors. When a person approaches the entrance of a Uniqlo store its as though they’re walking into a museum – its an overwhelming sight to take in initially.

Their design is not just limited to the store and products; the employees are trained specifically to give customers an over-the-top experience by utilizing honor, respect and appreciation. Uniqlo has truly created a powerful integration of people and product.


Is an iconic retailer (Private company Co-op) appealing to outdoor enthusiasts who have created a groundbreaking experiential destination that mountain climbers, hikers, and various other outdoor aficionados have come to love. They’ve built an experience that’s centered around authenticity, and the insights of their target market. Their ability to capture the nuances of what their customers care about is unrivaled.


Design and Experiential Differentiation 

REI is a brand that loves what it does – provides high quality outdoors equipment. They carry a cross section of products that focus on quality, performance and style that specifically meet the needs of their members. Their purpose, as they have stated, is being passionate about the outdoors and being committed to promoting environmental stewardship and increasing access to outdoor recreation through volunteerism, gear donations and financial contributions.

In addition, they have structured their company to be a co-op versus being a public company, so they can focus on the long-term interests of their members and not on the Fickleness of Wall Street.

Other than designing great products, these three brands have mastered six brand traits that have made them runaway successes.

  1. Skillful Brand Engagers: They allow their marketplace to have a voice within their brand.
  2. Brand Authenticity: Finding shared interests between the brand and its customers allow for communities to be built across these interests.
  3. Brand and Design Integrators: Emphasis on both of these allows the customer to feel a deeper impact of their brand messaging.
  4. Brand Nosiness: The great brands not only know how to create conversations, they also no how to go where the conversations are – and become contributors of the community at large.
  5. Brand Differentiation: Branding is a necessity but not at the expense of having a differentiated product. Build differentiation first, and then build a compelling story around it.
  6. Brand Experience: As Pine and Gilmore stated in their book “The Experience Economy,” “Your business is the stage – so create great theater.”

Above are 3 great brands that understand the importance of branding and design. It comes down to creativity and consistency, and when both are working together brand mastery can be achieved.


John Paul Aguiar

Blogging Entrepreneur that Helps Bloggers and Small Business Owners with Blog Marketing, Twitter Marketing and Social Media. I'm also a Kidney Transplant Recipient 2002

Visit Website

There are no comments yet, add one below.

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *