Branding quotes: The good, the bad and the ugly

You would assume that the best branding quotes would be incredible inspiration for creating your best work. Sage words from the industry's finest should be a great place to start when looking to create visual identities. But are they really that useful?

Any successful business relies on effective branding; the set of values by which prospective clients can identify what you do, how you do it, and – crucially – whether or not they want to buy into your message. What is it exactly that constitutes effective branding? To find out, you could start by looking at the best branding books, or graphic design books, written by some of the world's brightest marketing minds.

Everyone from CEOs to motivational speakers has had their say on how to brand successfully, and indeed some complain that branding has become boring. These quotes could potentially provide a deep well of wisdom from which both startups and established companies can source inspiration. Or not, as the case may be. 

After reading pretty much every branding quote that's ever been uttered, we've come to the conclusion that some are more useful than others. It pays to be discerning here. To help you out, we've organised some of the standout nuggets into three distinct categories: the good, the bad and the ugly. Disclaimer: this is only our opinion and should not be taken as gospel. 

If you're after more advice on creating identities, then see our logo design guide.

Click the right-hand corner of each image to enlarge it.

The good...

(Image credit: Future)

Entrepreneur and Ditch, Dare, Do!  author William Arruda calls himself ‘The Personal Branding Guru’, and he has the CV – and the teeth – to back up that claim. This gem of a quote pretty much sums up the whole point of branding in seven glorious words. To put it another way: stand out from the crowd and ye shall be noticed! No, actually, we prefer what he said.

(Image credit: Future)

Howard Schultz founded Starbucks, so he’s clearly no (ahem) mug. And here he succinctly identifies one of the main reasons why consumers return to the same brand time and time again. If you make your values clear from the offset – whether they be political, ethical or social – you might scare some people away, but then you’ll probably gain some customers for life.     

(Image credit: Future)

Virgin founder Sir Richard nails it with this quote, pointing out that consumers in general feel a greater affinity with brands that are passionate (or at least seem passionate) about what they do.  

(Image credit: Future)

Reading this quote from graphic design god John Morgan – author of Brand Against the Machine – seems like a real ‘Eureka!’ moment. But it’s a fairly obvious comment, really: pinpoint exactly what it is that your customer wants, and then ensure that you’re the only brand to deliver it. 

The bad...

(Image credit: Future)

Far be it for us to disagree with the richest man in the world, but we’d like to think that our ‘brand’ amounts to more than: 'Has he farted?' 'Who wears bootcut jeans in this day and age?' or 'Does he know he has baked-bean juice down his shirt?'

(Image credit: Future)

US author Chris Guillebeau is best-known for his book The Art of Non-Conformity. Sadly, he appears not to have conformed to the idea that some alphabets don’t have 26 letters. Better move on to plan Ω, Chris.

(Image credit: Future)

We can see what Meg – CEO of mobile video platform Quibi – is saying here. People often talk about ‘Hoovering’ the stairs, ‘Tarmac-ing’ the road or ‘Sellotaping’ their Christmas presents. But in most cases, the concept simply wouldn’t make sense. When’s the last time you 'Andrexed' your bottom?

(Image credit: Future)

German designer Walter Landor was undoubtedly a genius, helping to shape such iconic brands as Coca-Cola, Levi Strauss and Shell Oil. But we’re going to have to throw this one into the ‘Bad’ bin, because surely everything is created in the mind – unless you’re an amoeba, and then nothing much is created at all.

And the ugly...

(Image credit: Future)

The Tesla founder’s quote could be the most brilliant piece of advice in the world… if only we knew what the hell he was talking about. And didn't know that he was the man behind the Cybertruck.

(Image credit: Future)

What Virgin boss Sir Richard seems to be saying here is: “You can be the owner of a very successful business and have shit hair.” 

(Image credit: Future)

This quote – from US author and ‘lifehacker’ Tim Ferriss – is one of those where you go: 'Yeah, man, that’s really great advice', before remembering all those terrible drunken photos you posted on Facebook. No? Okay, maybe it was just us.

(Image credit: Future)

The late David Ogilvy was known as ‘the father of advertising’, and we agree with his sentiment to some extent. Does Mr Kipling really make ‘exceedingly good cakes’, or do we just believe that because the TV advert tells us he does? On the other hand, we can’t accept that everything is of the same quality. We bought a black forest gateau from a bloke in a pub once, and it was bloody awful.  

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Paul is a communications expert with many years' experience writing and editing for some of the UK's top magazines, websites and brands. The brand he most closely identifies with is Weetabix.