Product Marketing vs Brand Marketing

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Brand Marketing Examples

Nike and Harley Davison were recognized in previous research as two companies that have adopted a strong brand marketing approach. The brand marketing strategies of these two companies have been analyzed to illustrate the association between a brand and a consumer's subsequent emotions and behaviors. Three further examples, Tesla, Chipotle and Trader Joes, have also been analyzed in depth to provide an overview of how consumer emotions and behaviors can be linked to a particular brand and how this ultimately creates loyalty and recognition.


  • Nike is a major footwear, clothing, and sportswear supplier, operating in over 160 countries. It is one of the most globally recognizable brands.
  • The "swoosh" brand was created in 1972 when Nike decided to start manufacturing its own sports shoes.
  • In 1979 Nike Air technology was conceived and implemented. By 1980 Nike had cornered 50% of the US sports shoe market.
  • Nike employed a Portland advertising agency, Wieden+Kennedy in 1979. This company was responsible for the famous "Just do it" slogan that has become entwined with the brand and celebrated its 30th-anniversary last year.
  • In 1988 other brands, especially Reebok with its shoe catering to the aerobic fitness craze were catching up to Nike. Nike needed a new strategy.
  • Nike recognized the potential of the fitness universe and its 150 million consumers and by using a tagline that resonated with everyone the brand instantly conveyed the message everyone is a potential athlete — "Just do It".
  • This brand orientated marketing saw Nike sales go from 877 million to 9.7 billion over the next ten years.
  • Nike's entire marketing strategy is contingent on a positive and strong brand image. The distinct swoosh and "Just do it" slogan are the focus of many advertisements.
  • The company markets the swoosh and the slogan rather than particular products because they have built such a strong brand image that the products are the secondary focus.
  • The image created around a brand is key to the strength of the brand. When Nike received bad publicity over the workforce and poor working conditions in developing countries, it's brand image suffered as a result.
  • The way Nike markets the brand and the consequent brand strength is the primary reason it continues to experience greater market success than its main competitors.
  • Nike builds its brand around athletes that are at the top of their games. The brand gains strength by association with these athletes and the implication that anyone can be like them.
  • There is a psychological component to this type of brand marketing as consumers are given the impression they will be more successful in their sporting endeavors if they use Nike products.
  • The Air Jordan range was developed when Michael Jordan was at the peak of his career with the Chicago Bulls. His image and the Air Jordan range are still recognizable globally as part of the Nike brand.
  • The "Be like Mike" slogan that ran concurrently with this campaign is a further illustration of Nike invoking an emotional response in the consumer to buy its products.
  • Lance Armstrong and Tiger Woods are athletes that were both recognizable globally and were untouchable in their respective fields. Nike associated its brand with their success to build and strengthen its brand image.
  • There are dangers in this approach as Nike found out.
  • Both of these athletes suffered falls from grace in subsequent years. Nike remained loyal to both initially, but when the brand started to be impacted as a result was quick to cut ties.
  • Nike is not afraid to take a stand on issues of social or political injustice. They have taken the risk of associating the brand with certain controversies.
  • This is due to their target audience of 18-35-year-olds, who have been shown in various marketing surveys to have a strong social conscious.
  • In 2017 Colin Kaepernick took a knee during the national anthem. It was unheard-of and drew the wrath of the President and the NFL.
  • Nike made him the face of a campaign. Nike suffered the consequences through a number of scathing posts on social media.
  • The stand was calculated Nike recognized a societal problem in racially charged police brutality. They also knew that younger people are more progressive and supported the stand by Kaepernick.
  • Nike lost market share of 3.9% as a result of this decision, but they were happy to accept that as a trade-off for the 40 years of brand loyalty they created with their target demographic.
  • It seems the decision was right as in the subsequent weeks Nike sales surged 31% and their share price reached a record high. The brand is everything, and loyalty is key when the marketing strategy for a company rests on the brand.
  • The intimacy that has been created with the consumer as a result of the familiarity they feel with the brand allows Nike to set prices high. Consumers want to wear the brand and are prepared to pay the price to do so.


  • Harley Davidson is an American motorcycle manufacturer. Without a doubt, it is the world's most iconic motorcycle brand.
  • It is one of the most well-known brands in history.
  • Unlike the big corporates, that have deep pockets to create the image they desire around their brands, Harley Davidson has built its brand image through over a century of determination and hard work.
  • The humble beginnings meant that the company couldn't afford the traditional advertising campaigns, so a decision was made to focus on brand loyalty. The Harley Owners Group (HOG)was formed in 1983.
  • This connected Harley Davidson with its customers through affinity.
  • Harley Davidson had suffered decreased sales because of quality issues. They needed to regain the trust of the audience and did this by creating an image and personality around their brand.
  • This, and in turn, created a strong and loyal customer base.
  • Harley Davidson created four key brand values that remain associated with the company today.
  • Firstly, Freedom — the lifestyle to go anywhere at any time.
  • The American heritage and flag are closely aligned to the Harley brand. The brand focuses on the patriotic emotions the heritage and flag bring out in Americans.
  • Community is key. They rely on the status of the brand among key consumers. The cult-like following the brand has developed maximizes word of mouth advertising and creates ongoing brand strength.
  • Quality is now one of the key battle cries of Harley Davidson. The brand has associated itself with quality motorcycles. Buy Harley Davidson, and you are buying quality.
  • The logo was then closely associated with brand values. They are intertwined, and both have created a distinct identity for the company.
  • The company then gave the brand personality. Masculinity, adventure, and patriotism are key, but the overriding trait is the Harley Davidson rebellious spirit.
  • The key to brand marketing is the emotional connection it hopes to invoke in the consumer.
  • The association with a lifestyle, that for many consumers is a dream, uses the emotional response to create an emotional connection. In doing this, loyalty and brand recognition are strengthened. 
  • People want to own a Harley Davidson because of the lifestyle it promises them.


  • When Tesla entered the electric vehicle market place, it did so with a luxury high-end motor vehicle. It didn't aim to compete, with the Chevy Volt or the Toyota Hybrid, rather it associated its brand with the luxury sports car market.
  • Tesla has now become the third highest-selling luxury car, behind only the Mercedes E Class and the BMW Series 5.
  • Tesla not only associated its brand with luxury, but it associated its brand with environmental and social responsibility.
  • This was a previously unexplored and niche market.
  • Previously socially responsible consumers had limited options when it came to luxury cars. Tesla opened the market to a new wave of consumers.
  • The brand became associated with a revolution as a result. Tesla recognized consumer behaviors around adopting a green lifestyle and limiting their environmental footprint and targeted those consumers by creating a brand image that encompassed those ideals.
  • Consumer behavior has trended toward adopting environmentally sustainable products and options. Tesla has associated its brand with sustainability and in doing so, negated the guilt associated with owning a luxury sports car.
  • Tesla provides an excellent example of how social responsibility can be incorporated into a brand identity and the consequent consumer loyalty that develops as a result.


  • Taco Bell had long been the dominant player in the Mexican fast-food market place. Its focus was on providing cheap Tex-Mex food.
  • Chipotle, when it entered the market, distinguished itself from Taco Bell by placing its emphasis on quality Mexican food. In doing so, Chipotle developed a distinct brand identity.
  • It worked to build a strong market brand that people identified with quality. It made jokes about the soda cups, emphasized the high hip urban atmosphere and the desire to create a quality product.
  • The entire experience of dining at Chipotle was used to create a brand identity. It marketed the experience and associated the quality of the experience with the brand to invoke brand loyalty from the consumer.
  • Chipotle uses self-deprecating humor to invoke an emotional response from the consumer rather than focusing on particular products. For example, the "we're not afraid to say we are real chickens" ad campaign.
  • Chipotle focuses on customer engagement when marketing its brand and humor helps it achieve this. This type of branding recognizes the consumer trend toward obtaining information and making product decisions through social media.
  • The humor engages the consumer on social media and as a result, creates brand recognition and loyalty.


  • Trader Joes is a network of smaller stores with a boutique range that caters to the discerning culinary consumer.
  • The smaller stores mean that, as a company, they have to be selective as to the products they place on their selves. This is in direct contrast to its main competitor, Whole Foods.
  • They emphasis this distinction in the way they have created a brand image around their stores. They sell exotic, hard to find products, and their stores are a hodgepodge of these products.
  • Trader Joes has created a fun focus around its branding. They decorate their stores with a nautical focus and try to convey the shopping experience as a fun treasure hunt.
  • They use bright colors, and lettering in the stores, employees wear bright Hawaiian shirts and are loud. The whole focus is a fun shopping experience.
  • In adopting this experience, Trader Joes associate its brand with fun. Everyone enjoys having fun, so the implication of this fun focused brand image is the emotional response it invokes in the consumer.
  • Shop at Trader Joes because they make shopping a fun experience.


To expand the analysis of the previous research around the brand marketing strategy of Nike and Harley Davidson, we extensively searched a number of industry publications, marketing seminars, articles, and various scholarly publications. This enabled us to determine the key elements were in creating a successful brand. Once we had established this list, we focused on Harley Davidson and Nike and researched various industry publications, articles and case studies so that we could understand how they had implemented these strategies into the successful branding of their companies.

We then searched in various industry publications and scholarly articles to identify three other American companies that had created a successful brand image. Tesla, Chipotle, and Trader Joes were identified. Each had a unique approach to the way they had developed their brand and the image that they wished to create. We researched how the various identity they had created around their brands either invoked an emotional response in the consumer or incorporated consumer trends and behaviors. We also researched the various industry publications for specific case studies concerning each of these companies. This provided an excellent basis to analyze how they had created successful brands.