The business and marketing worlds have always been competitive spheres, but since the dawn of globalization and the internet zeitgeist, hypercompetitiveness rules the day. And for a brand to stand out in this climate, they must become iconic.


To brands, iconic means that products and services are highly relevant to the target audience, they are recognizable and distinct. Furthermore, becoming iconic doesn’t need to be complicated. In fact, simplicity and timelessness are some of the critical elements of iconicity. Think the simple Nike or Target logo, or the clean lines and shape of an Absolut bottle.

Iconicity also takes shape within the memories and emotions of the consumer. Winning brands which reach iconicity have already imprinted within their target market’s consciousness. For instance, people remember the distinct colors, shape, and texture of Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups and the feelings those products elicit.

A warning, though; brands that reach iconic status, but become complacent and then chase after the next ‘shiny object’ fad can anger customers and quickly lose iconicity.


Take Coca-cola, for example. The signature drink was first patented in 1885, and after experimenting as a ‘nerve tonic’ complete with cocaine in the mix, the brand soon finalized their recipe in 1903. For decades, coke remained the same, imprinting its look, feel, and taste within its target market. That is until the mid-1980s when the company decided to experiment with its formulation again. Consumers boycotted the company until the brand switched back to its (somewhat original) formula.

Being relevant in a meaningful way gives a brand, iconicity. To stand out in the crowd without resorting to fads and shiny object syndrome, brands need to think long and hard about what makes them distinct, right down to their logo, signature, tone, and colors.

Steve Jobs designed the first Apple logo in the late 1970s with Ronald Wayne. The first logo was busy, intricate, and would be difficult for a consumer to remember or articulate to those unfamiliar with the company. Steve Jobs commissioned designer Rob Janoff to work on the logo, giving us the memorable, simple, and timeless bitten apple design the entire world now recognizes.


When thinking about how to make your brand iconic, think about the following elements:

LOOK: Is your logo simple, easy to identify, and can a customer articulate it to another person? Is your brand’s personality shining through the way it is visually presented?

FEEL: What is the tone of your brand? How does that resonate with your target customer, and can you easily replicate it across products and services?

POINT OF DIFFERENCE: What values does your brand embody, and is the brand’s purpose resonating with the target market? Also, how can your brand promise and deliver on specifics where your competitors cannot?

Remember, when building your brand’s iconicity, don’t stray. Brands that try to experiment with the next shiny object or respond to a fad will lose loyal customers and hurt their brand’s image. And if you’re first starting out, take the long view when building your brand. Don’t look to fads but instead, work on developing a timeless and distinct brand that will create and cement positive memories for your customers.