Have you ever wondered why some brands stick in your mind more than others? Certain brands have instantly recognizable logos, taglines, or packaging elements. Not every brand has the same effect as others. However, why?
Effective and unique brand elements make a difference. Strong brand assets are roughly 52% more visible than those of their rivals, according to research. Stated differently, they are easier to spot.
However, what precisely are brand assets, and how can you create and use unique brand assets for your business?
What Are Brand Assets?
Before we get into distinctive brand assets, let’s briefly discuss brand assets in general. Brand assets are all those elements created to represent and distinguish your brand. They can be tangible, like your logo, or intangible, like your brand values. Collectively, these assets shape your brand’s unique identity across various brand touchpoints.
Your brand assets can take different forms, for example:
- Visual brand assets like your logo, color palette, brand fonts, or mascot.
- Verbal brand assets, such as your tagline, slogans, or your brand’s tone of voice.
- Auditory brand assets, including jingles, voiceovers, or sound effects.
- Scent brand assets, like signature-scented environments, products, or marketing materials.
- Tactile brand assets are found in the materials used in your product, packaging, or retail environment.
- Symbolic brand assets, such as your brand values, brand personality, and brand storytelling.
Not every brand asset is automatically distinctive. Distinctive brand assets are truly recognizable and memorable features that instantly bring a particular brand to mind when shopping in a category. You might have heard people use terms like ‘strong brand assets’ or ‘iconic brands’—they usually mean the same thing.
‘Distinctive Brand Assets’ by Jenni Romaniuk
The term ‘distinctive brand assets’ was coined by Jenni Romaniuk, an author and researcher at the Ehrenberg-Bass Institute. According to her, distinctive brand assets act as triggers that prompt consumers to think of a particular brand name without mentioning it.
Romaniuk emphasizes that for your brand assets to be effective, they should have both, fame and uniqueness. They should be well-known enough for consumers to easily associate them with your brand (fame) and distinct enough to avoid any confusion with other brands (uniqueness).
The simpler an asset, the better. According to research by Siegel+Gale, companies with simpler brand assets outperform those with more complex ones by 200%. So, you want your brand assets to be simple but not generic.
But what do they actually look like? You’re likely already familiar with the most common types of brand elements:
- Logos and logotypes;
- Jingles, etc.
These are owned media that a brand uses to stay recognizable across every touch point they have with a customer or partner. However, those aren’t the only brand elements that companies typically work with. Other examples of brand elements could be:
- Color palettes;
- Photography style; or
These are all outside ambassadors for your brand that should be carefully designed to work with one another and contribute to a single, strategically-planned brand identity.
However, while any of the above examples could be considered brand assets, they’re not necessarily what we mean when we say Distinctive Brand Assets.
To be considered a DBA, branding elements must be tied so strongly to your company that close to 100% of your customers would connect them to you without any context. It’s this uniqueness (or distinctness, if you will) that transforms a regular brand element into a distinctive brand asset. For quick reference, think “Just do it.”, or a little kid whispering, “Zoom, zoom.”
For a more in-depth example, let’s talk about one of the world’s leaders in branding: Apple.
Over the years, they’ve worked hard to create an image that is instantly recognizable and screams ‘Apple’ at every turn. From their custom-designed typeface, Myriad Apple, to their use of extreme minimalism in absolutely everything they produce. As a company, they understand the power of a strong brand and ensure that they’re doing everything they can to make their brand assets as distinctive as can be.
Why are Distinctive Brand Assets so Important?
Why put in the effort? It’s not easy to create a suite of unmistakably unique branding elements. It takes time to carefully select colors, typefaces, and photography styles that all work together to create a single, distinct identity. So why do it?
Well, simply put, by making your brand assets distinctive, you can:
- Increase customer loyalty.
- Build trust/ease buyer doubt.
- Increase the return on your ad spend.
- Create a stronger brand identity.
Here’s what that looks like…
1. Increasing Customer Loyalty
I think we can all agree that increasing customer loyalty and retention should be a priority for any brand. Stats show that converting a new customer is five times more expensive than keeping a new one around. So do yourself a favour and start thinking about your move from acquisition to retention. And while you’re at it, let’s talk about how DBAs make that whole process way easier.
Imagine that you have a favorite cabinetmaker – we’ll call her Joanne. Joanne works for a local building company and whenever you need work done in your house, you call her first. However, one day she gets an offer from a new company and makes the switch. What do you do? Do you continue to work with Joanne’s previous employer and whoever they send in her place, or do you find out where she’s working and give them your business?
Read Also: Brand Priming
If you’re like most people, you’ll have no problem switching from one generic construction company to another. After all, you’re loyal to the individual employee and not the brand as a whole.
Now let’s imagine Joanne originally worked for Home Depot, a company with a strong brand identity, and more importantly — especially when it comes to customer retention and loyalty — a ridiculous amount of brand equity. When she switches companies, are you likely to follow her, or are you going to continue to trust in the expertise and quality of the work provided by Home Depot? For most people, it’s not the individual you like, it’s the trust you have that Home Depot will deliver quality work no matter who’s on the other end of the hammer. Which brings us to our next point.
2. Building Trust and Easing Buyer Doubt
This is a simple one.
By keeping your brand assets distinctive and uniquely you, customers will feel more at ease when purchasing from you. Every message they receive from you feels unified. Every email, banner ad, and TV commercial feels like it’s coming from a single entity. By remaining consistent, you become a brand they can count on… and hopefully purchase from!
3. Increasing ROI on Ad Spend
The third benefit to having Distinctive Brand Assets concerns the money you spend on ads. We’ve talked a lot about customer acquisition and if you’ve done your reading you know that ad spend can be a big part of the customer acquisition cost formula. DBAs can help with that.
In multiple studies, customers who were shown amazing ads were unable to correctly identify or remember the company behind them. In many cases, they associated the ads with competitor companies, meaning that the original creators of the ads just spent untold amounts of ad dollars simply to lose customers to their rivals.
Keeping your brand assets distinctive and unique ensures that no matter how distracted viewers are, they’ll still successfully associate your ads with your brand. For example, think about the Geico gecko or the Aflac duck. By including these mascots in their ads, those two companies ensure that no one will be left wondering who’s behind the ads. It’s the same with the typography that Coca-Cola uses for their logo or the catchy jingle used in ads for Avocados From Mexico. By successfully creating distinctive brand assets (mascots, logos, jingles) companies are able to present a strong, instantly recognizable brand identity.
4. Creating a Stronger Brand Identity
We’ve talked about brand identity a lot on this blog. As a company, getting your brand right is one of the most important marketing objectives your business can have.
However, without a set of distinctive, clearly defined brand assets, doing so is almost impossible. In fact, any good agency will recommend that you find a way to make your brand assets distinctive during the branding process and then codify that ‘distinctiveness’ through a set of brand guidelines.
How to Build Distinctive Brand Assets?
Here are some steps you can take to make your brand assets more distinctive:
1. Identify Your Brand’s Most Relevant Brand Assets
Decide which brand assets best represent your brand’s unique personality and identity. These could be tangible brand assets, such as your logo or typography, or intangible ones, such as your brand story.
2. Define the Most Effective Brand Assets
Based on research, testing, and observation, decide which assets are most recognizable and memorable to your audience.
3. Ensure Consistency Across All Brand Touchpoints
Apply your brand assets consistently across all brand touchpoints, including packaging, advertising, website, and social media. This consistency helps people build strong memory structures associated with them.
4. Focus On Developing a Few Key Assets
Concentrate your efforts on strengthening a select few brand assets—those you’ve identified as relevant and effective. Building distinctive brand assets takes time and dedication. If you juggle too many elements at once, you will likely only dilute their impact.
Keep in mind, that sometimes it’s the combination of two or more brand assets that makes them particularly distinctive—especially when it comes to brand colors. A thoughtful combination can contribute to a unique and memorable brand presence.
5. Invest in Ongoing Monitoring and Evaluation
Only through regular evaluation can you ensure that the brand assets remain successful over time. Make adjustments if necessary. Eliminate brand assets that don’t work and concentrate on those that do. This goes beyond your personal taste!
When you follow these steps, you can build distinctive brand assets that come to peoples’ minds at the right moment in the customer journey.
Of course, your small business may not have the scale of a multinational corporation. But the strategic development of recognisable brand elements can still help you build recognition, and ultimately trust with your audience.
After all, when people see something repeatedly, they tend to develop a sense of familiarity and comfort with it. This principle, known as the mere exposure effect, is a cognitive bias that holds true in branding.
There are many instances of unique brand assets, including the golden arches of McDonald’s, the sound that appears when a Mac computer boots up, or the recognizable glass bottle form of Heinz Ketchup.
Here are a few additional instances:
Coca-Cola and Snickers have such recognizable fonts in their logos that they are allowed to use them without including their names. People can still recognize the brand, though.
In the case of Coca-Cola, the logo font has been used since the late 19th century. In 2011, Coca-Cola launched a marketing campaign in Australia called “Share a Coke,” replacing the logo on the bottles and cans with popular first names.
Similarly, Snickers ran a campaign called “Hunger Bars,” using words associated with the word ‘hunger’ to replace its logo.
Tiffany & Co.
Tiffany blue® is an example of a distinctive brand color. The trademarked color has become the signature feature of Tiffany & Co., appearing on its packaging, website, and retail shops.
But as we mentioned before, colors can be pretty generic. We would argue, that Tiffany always needs to show other brand elements alongside its color to make it truly recognizable.
Toblerone is a great example of a distinct packaging shape.
The iconic triangular shape packaging was introduced in 1908. The unique design of the chocolate bar was inspired by the Matterhorn. It has since become one of the brand’s most recognizable features.
The Michelin Man, named Bibendum, is a classic example of a distinctive brand mascot. He was created by Michelin in 1898 and is made entirely of white tires. I vividly remember him being painted across the wall of the tire shop my uncle worked at, when I was a child.
In conclusion, creating unique brand elements is crucial to creating a powerful, memorable brand. You can make sure that people will know your brand right away by concentrating on a small number of essential brand elements and showing them consistently throughout all of your brand touchpoints.