Top five brands that do not need a brand name

Selfridges has asked some of the most recognisable brands to produce versions of their best-selling products sans branding as part of its No Noise campaign. Inspired by the unique approach to retail, Marketing Week picks out five brands with visual identities so strong they do not need a brand name to sell to their customers.



Cadbury’s signature Pantone 2685C purple has come to define the chocolate category over the last century. For many, the signature shade of purple brings back fond memories of that first time they ever tasted chocolate. The iconic colour has been synonymous with the brand Dairy Milk range and it has poured millions of pounds over the years to make it one of its most valued branding assets. Such is the importance of the colour that Cadbury had been locked in a legal battle with rival Nestle for the last four years over its use.



Nike’s branding has gone through many changes over the years. Since it was founded in the 60s, its logo has become more streamlined and simpler in appearance as the brand has grown in stature. This culminated in 1995 when the company dropped the Nike name from its corporate logo and began using the stand-alone Swoosh to resonate with consumers. The de-brand has paid off for Nike with the brand cementing its place as the world’s premier sportswear brand.



Starbucks’ infamous siren logo has been the figurehead of one of the world’s most recognised brands for decades. The coffee chain has made three major changes to its logo since it launched in 1971, most recently in 2011 when it celebrated its 40thanniversary. The update eschewed the Starbucks Coffee wording in favour of a close up of the Siren.

British Red Cross


There are some people who have never interacted with the British Red Cross, yet they know what it stands for and how it changes peoples lives the moment they look at the iconic logo. It demonstrates the importance of cultivating a brand logo that resonates with all who view it.



Ferrari and the colour red are inextricably linked. The prestige and allure of the blood-red cars carrying the prancing horse logo ooze sexiness and glamour that other car marques can only aspire to. Being iconic is firstly about standing for something clear and compelling, and reflecting this core idea in everything that the brand does. The combination of Ferrari’s famous stallion with its defining shade of red have achieved this and formed one of the world’s most recognisable car badges.

Readers' comments (12)

  • Agree these are all very recognisable brands but what makes them the top 5? Why is Starbucks stronger than Maccy D? Ferrari stallion more famous than the Mercedes star? It's good to have an opinion. Doesn't make it a fact though.

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  • Surprised to see Starbucks and Ferrari on the list and agree with aardvark that it would be nice to know how Ferrari made above merc star
    Would be keen to know matrix used for this as there are other brands that come to my mind with stronger presence then Starbucks and Ferrari

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  • Surely Apple would need to be in a top 5?

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  • But the top one has Cadbury written in it! There should have been just a purple square to see if they were truly recognisable without their logo. Answer: no. In context, in the sweets aisle, the purple livery is a good banner for the brand. Outside of that context, not so much. And outside the UK even less so.

    As to the car - I couldn't have told you what that was. :)

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  • I just looked up this No Noise thing.

    Amusingly, it says "As we become increasingly bombarded with information and stimulation, the world is becoming a noisier place." You click "What is No Noise?" and you get "As we become increasingly bombarded with information and stimulation, the world is becoming a noisier place."

    Hmm. Repetition is a bit noisy I'd say. It then says "In an initiative that goes beyond retail, we invite you to celebrate the power of quiet, see the beauty in function and find calm among the crowds"

    Who makes up this nonsense? What does that even mean?

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  • I have to agree with both of the previous posts, the list seems a little arbitrary - perhaps deliberately trying to kickstart some controversy?
    What puts Cadbury (strong though it is) above say Apple's mark? Does Ferrari's prancing horse have more recognition than the Mercedes star or even BMW's blue & white propellor, really? Plus no room for Shell...? OK not a retail consumer brand as such but easily one of the most obvious symbols of our age across the world especially in places where Starbucks and Cadbury simply don't exist as far as the local population are concerned!

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  • I have to agree with the other comments - what makes these the best/top five? Plenty of others that i would say are more iconic. Would be interesting to understand the logic behind this

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  • Some strange choices. Ferrari? I'm not even sure Starbuck's deserves to be here. And yes, why no Apple, Facebook, BP, Shell? There are loads to choose from that are more instantly recognisable than some of these.

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  • At the risk of stoking the fires, the list is entirely arbitrary. Guilty. It was intended as a conversation starter and wasn't meant to be a forensic analysis of the best of the best. Please feel free to add suggestions of your own and thanks very much for all your observations to date.
    Russell Parsons
    News Editor, Marketing Week.

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  • Coco cola is oldest of them .

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