Branding Beat - Cut Through the Noise

The 10 Branding Commandments You Need to Follow

One of the most powerful tools in your marketing arsenal is brand recognition. No matter what your company has to offer customers, it’s important to understand that people are most likely to buy new products from brands they easily recognize. To help, we’ve compiled some of the best tips for building a better brand!

Here, down from the peak of Mount Promo, are Quality Logo Products®’ 10 Commandments of Branding:

10 commandments branding qlp
If you love this graphic, feel free to copy/paste the embed code below to share it on your blog or website!
[<p align=”center”><a href=””><img src=”” alt=“QLP’s 10 Commandments of Branding”></a></p>]

1. Know Your Demographic

Determining the target market and demographic is crucial when selecting a brand to which consumers will easily identify. Location, age, and income level of target consumers should be considered before making any big marketing decisions. One example of a brand targeting a specific age group is the Jitterbug cell phone. It’s a name that seniors will remember and identify with and it doesn’t have any negative connotations – in fact, it sounds fun, young, and lively.

2. Be Unique

It may seem like a good idea to make your brand sound similar to an existing brand, but it’s actually a pitfall. No matter how excellent your watches may be, a Folex will never be anything to the consumer but a fake Rolex. To start, try brainstorming to come up with a concise description of what you’d like your brand to be or say or represent; the more specific your idea, the more unique your brand will be. Once you have a specific idea, try to think of what word, phrase, or feeling the idea invokes.

Of course, when all else fails you can always advertise your products or services with promotional products. There are a variety of unique ways to make an impression with giveaways, going beyond your standard business cards or pens. Sites like Ponoko offer a variety of creative branding ideas, particularly on how you can set yourself apart from the competition. One of their most informative posts touts the value of using promotional items. From laser engraved products to trendy sunglasses, the article points out the various stylish and useful items you can use to gain the crowd’s attention.

3. Brand Name and Domain Name Should Be Created Equal

A domain name is important for establishing the credibility of your business, as well as building your brand online. When making the final decision about a name for your brand or business, you should check the availability of the domain name for your future website.

No matter how excellent your watches may be, a Folex will never be anything to the consumer but a fake Rolex.

If the name of your clothing company is Great Buttons, you’ll lose business if people who search for find a completely unrelated company that sells something else. You may want to consider buying all the available similar domain names if they’re available (,, because it’s a very small investment to keep someone else from stealing some of your business (or, you know, just keep from confusing your customers).

4. Avoid Prefixes

While some brands have had success with this (looking at you, eBay and Apple), market research suggests that other brands with a company or product name that begins with a lower-case letter have not found the same success. You can still feel free to combine words or ideas to name your brand, but just avoid the lower-case letter prefix of yesteryear.

5. Stand Out from the Crowd

Some words are so overused that they lose impact and become indistinguishable from the thousands of other brands using the same word. If you provide technical services, consider avoiding words like “global,” “solutions,” and “tech” in your brand name. There are many other words with the same meaning that would get your point across to customers just as effectively and set you apart from competitors. Also, try to leave clichés out of your slogans; don’t bore people with phrases like “ace in the hole”, “take one for the team”, and “whole nine yards.”

6. Use Language Properly and Don’t Assume Anything

As a rule of thumb, you want to avoid incorrect capitalization or using cutesy gimmicks. Of course, for every rule, you have a successful rule breaker; popular blogging platform Tumblr, for instance, does pretty well for themselves. But if you want people to find out about your brand, you should make your message as obvious as you can. And it goes for more than just coming up with a brand name – using good grammar and clear messaging is important in all your marketing and communications to come across as professional and capable.

…using good grammar and clear messaging is important in all your marketing and communications.

On printed materials like business cards, make sure that your line of business is clearly stated if it’s not apparent from the business name alone. For example, if your company name is Touch of the West and you specialize in western-themed goods, be sure to specify that in your ads. Otherwise, people could get mixed up and mistake your cowboy collectibles shop for a Tex-Mex restaurant.

7. Keep It Positive

Your customers are your most important asset, and you don’t want to scare them away before they ever get to know you! Confusing, obscene, or other questionable associations are likely to turn your customers to your competition. It’s totally possible to be known as a fun, bold, or even edgy brand without succumbing to stereotypes or being crass.

8. Keep It Simple

Brand and product names should be easy to spell, easy to pronounce, and easy to remember. You should try to consider any tricky translation issues, too. Coca-Cola was first phonetically written in Chinese as ke-kou-ke-la, which means “bite the wax tadpole.” Since then, it has been revised to another close phonetic match, “ko-kou-ko-le,” which means “happiness in the mouth.” What a difference.

9. Make Your Name a Reflection of the Product

If the brand name is also a keyword or search term for your product or service, it will improve your SEO ranking – basically, you’ll be way easier to find on the internet. For example, Quality Logo Products® sells promotional products and the company name includes two keywords: “logo” and “products”.

10. Market Testing

Before launching the brand, get some outside opinions from clients, friends, focus groups, and anyone else who represents the target market. Present them with your ideas and strategies and then listen to their feedback. This is an important test run before you bring anything live to your potential customers. Make sure to listen if your test market says something is offensive or confusing, and tweak as necessary.

Branding might be the most powerful part of creating visibility for your business, and it often represents the most significant and lasting investment (of everything from money to time to people) a company can make. So make it memorable and have fun!

expand your brand


Bubba is the Quality Logo Products mascot. He may have started out as "just a stress ball," but he's come a long way since the company's launch in 2003. Bubba has been immortalized in numerous vector artwork designs for internal and external promotions, and you can see him change outfits on the Quality Logo Products homepage whenever a holiday rolls around. Oh, and he thinks pants are for the birds. You can connect with Bubba on


  1. Anthony

    These are some great tips for anyone trying to promote themselves! There are a lot of times where some people like to jam a bunch of information on something so small and totally can take away the message of how you want others to see your business.

    The best way is to keep is simple and to have some sort of contact so that you can be reached by anyone who is interested. We love helping new businesses! It’s kind of our thing. Also a plus to have something creative (and we all know that can be difficult at some times) but just showing off a promotional item can be that extra mile for creative-ism.[My new made up word] 😉 Now get out there and slap a logo on a pen with a phone number and let everyone know that you are the real deal!!

  2. Greg

    Great tips! Keeping it simple goes a long way! I also think using the proper language is a big one! Making sure you are using correct grammar is a huge deal! If your not going to use the correct grammar, its just like saying I don’t care enough to spell or punctuate correctly!!

  3. Ashley

    This is an excellent walkthrough of the important pieces in branding a company. The steps depicted almost serve as a flow chart for everything your company needs to understand. Of all these commandments, some of them are pretty obvious, but others are overlooked way too often.

    I think the avoiding prefixes commandment is such a simple, yet necessary rule everyone should follow. I keep thinking of the scene in The Social Network when Sean Parker suggests Mark Zuckerberg to drop the “The” in “The Facebook” It seems like such a useless piece of business to worry about with a high-tech company, but “Facebook” sounds trendier, more concise, and therefore easier to market. I think the lower case letter works for eBay and Apple because it was unique at the time, another important commandment listed!

    However, sometimes the most obvious of the commandments are the ones you want to focus on and make sure you don’t overlook, too. This way, you leave no stone unturned. Kinda like how getting promotional goods for your company is such an obvious necessity to get your company’s name and information in the hands of so many people. Yet, there are still companies out there that miss out on the beautiful branding opportunities of promotional products. Crazy, right?…Great list, Bubba!

  4. Jon

    I love the graphic on this – it follows my favorite rule on the list – Keep it simple.Nothing is worse than having a great message that is too small for the customer to see or one where necessary info gets lost in the shuffle.

    if there were a 11th commandment, I would suggest – make it fun … the 10 tips above if done correctly will probably already make it exciting if it needs to be – but people will remember something novel too. A small play on words, or giving away something a little silly goes a long way to having a lasting impression on a customer (think about the best commercials you have seen – they are usually the ones you laughed really hard at right? and you usually remember who made them … same thing here)

  5. Angie

    These are great tips. Now if we can get more people to follow them. I would also like to suggest that when creating a full color company logo, be sure to also create a one-color version. The full color version might look great on business cards, but it’s not going to work for most promotional items.

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