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What are Brand Attributes? + Examples & Tips to Design Yours

brand attributes

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brand attributes examples list

The best way to get brand attributes examples and really understand them is by thinking of a party you went to.

You probably went home and thought about all the people at the party, and even talked about it with other people you know who were also there.

“The lady in the pink dress with a hearty laugh”.

“The soft-spoken man who was only drinking whisky on ice”.

So people you meet have certain qualities or characteristics with which you perceive them and remember them later.

It’s the same for brands.

What are brand attributes?

Brand attributes are the core, intrinsic features or characteristics of a brand.

They are what define your brand, and what your brand’s audience and customers remember it with.

For instance, think of a brand you know and have interacted with.

To take a generic example, let’s go for Coca-Cola.

coca cola brand attributes

Source: researchgate.net

When you think of the brand, what do you immediately recall? Like the first few things that spring to mind?

Here are a few that come to mind:

• Red

• Black

• Zero sugar options

• Different and new flavors launched regularly

• Consistent taste

• Global

• Pepsi rival

While some of these associations are defined by the brand, some are just perceptions in my head.

Accordingly, there can be 2 kinds of brand attributes. But more on that later. Let’s see why they matter in the first place.

Why are brand attributes important?

1. Create more brand awareness

When you have strong brand attributes, they help you make your brand story more unique.

Your brand gets a very distinct identity. So even if you are a relatively new business, you can stand out from the competitors

2. Enable better brand recall

No matter what your product or service is, it is easy to get lost in the vast oceans of brands in the world.

The stronger your brand attributes are, the stronger the impression they make in the minds of your audience.

This helps them to remember your brand without confusing it with your competition.

3. Encourage more brand engagement

If you want to grow your business, you need people to love your brand.

When your audience likes your brand, what it stands for, how it makes them feel, they engage with your brand more and eventually buy from you.

Your brand attributes make your brand more desirable to your audience and drive more connection and engagement.

4. Drive business growth

While brand attributes don’t directly grow your business, by making your brand unique and attractive, they help your audience to connect with your brand more.

To choose it over your competitors and buy from you. Which means sales.

5. Build brand loyalty

Brand attributes not only help to directly or indirectly get your audience to choose your brand for purchases, but they also encourage your customers to keep choosing you repeatedly for their needs.

After all, if they like everything about your brand, like the experience of buying from you, and also like your product/ service, why would they choose a different brand later?

They will stick to you (brand loyalty), and buy from you repeatedly.

why are brand attributes important

Brand attributes list

Your brand is what your customers perceive it to be. And this perception is developed over time with your brand attributes, which can be of 2 types:

  • Sensory brand attributes
  • Subconscious brand attributes

Sensory brand attributes

The sensory brand attributes are those that can be perceived with your senses. So elements that you can see, touch, smell, hear, and taste.

Your brand may not have all of these specific attributes in its competitive positioning, but you should define at least a few of them, to help your audience differentiate and remember your brand.

Here is a list of brand elements that you need to define for your business brand.

1. Brand Color

Color is one of the most important attributes of your brand: it helps increase brand recognition by 80%.

But many brands can have similar colors, at least in the same family.

Usually, it is your specific brand color palette, so a combination of 2 or more colors, that helps your audience remember you.

See below the brand signage. Hard to miss this strong and bold blue-yellow combination, right?

brand attribute example brand color ikea

Also, check out the color palettes of the brands below. Probably you recognize at least 25% of them, even without a logo?

brand attribute color palette

Source: culturetrip.com

2. Brand typography

Look at the text below and tell me you don’t know the brand.

brand attributes brand font

Besides the actual message, it also stands out because of the very specific font used.

In fact, Apple customized the Garamond font to create this look.

And it became so popular, it even got established as a different brand by itself: Apple Garamond.

Besides color, a font can also be one of the most recognizable brand attributes.

This brings us to the next element of visual identity.

3. Brand design elements

Design elements used repeatedly in the marketing material of a brand (like flyers, brochures, etc), and/ or in the products can be a very powerful way for a brand to build differentiation.

Take the brand Desigual for example.

brand attribute brand design element

Source: culturetrip.com

Their colorful floral prints and abstract patterns make them instantly recognizable and also memorable, in the clutter of a zillion fashion brands out there.

Another example of a brand design element that helps audiences remember a brand is a brand mascot.

Big brands like Michelin, McDonald’s, Duracell, have all used their mascots in various marketing & PR campaigns to increase brand recall and drive sales.

brand attributes brand mascot

4. Brand messaging

Besides your brand’s visual identity, another very important part of a brand is what it says. Its brand and marketing messages.

So your tagline, brand promise, website content, are all elements that will help your audience recognize and remember your brand.

For instance, see below some famous brand taglines and the feelings that they inspire.

Brand tagline examples

5. Audio

Over time, a sound or music can become an integral part of a brand.

An audio brand attribute can be a tune, a song, or just a sign-off logo.

See below some examples of audio branding and audio logos to understand how big brands use sound to improve their brand recognition.

6. Touch and feel

Materials and textures can also be specific brand attributes.

7. Smell

A smell can also be a powerful brand attribute. It works best in locations, like in retail, and can also be referred to as scent marketing.

For example, ever been near a Dunkin Donuts store?

The sugary sweet smell is powerful enough to drag in most doughnut lovers, my husband included. I am not their audience, sadly 😉

I swoon over the lovely aroma in Lush stores instead.

To conclude, you should remember that even though most of these brand attributes can work in a silo, ideally they should go hand-in-hand.

A brand should have all the sensory brand attributes work together to provide a complete experience. This will differentiate the brand and also increase brand recognition and recall. Click To Tweet

Psychical/ subconscious brand attributes

To quote one of my favorite teachers Maya Angelou, “people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel”.

The subconscious brand attributes are all about how a brand makes its audience and customers feel. They could be even more important than the sensory brand attributes. Click To Tweet

So essentially, that gut feeling they get when they think about the brand.

While the physical brand attributes make a brand easy to remember physically, it is the subconscious attributes that really drive the feeling and emotion.

And can inspire thoughts like “I will only buy from them” or “let’s see what they have to offer”.

Or in some cases, it could inspire a feeling of “nah, that brand doesn’t get me” or “not in a million years am I buying from them”.

Here is a list of subconscious brand attributes:

1. Brand personality

Let’s say you meet a new person. Either you click with them, or you don’t, or it’s kind of in-between.

Let’s say you really click. Your personalities just match. You would want to interact with them again, right? Because it makes you feel good to chat, interact, build a relationship.

It’s the same with a business brand.

Somehow this reminds me of the Mac vs Pc ads. They are old, but I love them! The contrast between the two could not be clearer.

Mac used these to show themselves as cool, young, energetic. No wonder they quickly gained a huge following.

2. Brand behavior

Brand behavior is defined as the way your brand interacts with its audience and customers.

Brand behavior is a set of different elements that you can define:

Tone: The tone in which your brand talks with its audience. It includes both the actual words used in communication, as well as the body language.

Attitude: The attitude that your brand (including your customer care) gives to its audience. Respectful/ accommodating/ superiority…you choose!

Note: An aura of pride in a brand is not always bad. Luxury brands often have an approach of ‘the customer is not always king’. They would not always accommodate the need of every customer, for example.

They could have an attitude of ‘this is what our brand is, take it or leave it’. And this approach often works to make them aspirational, coveted, and extremely desirable.

How you follow up on sales, repeat purchases, how you attract new customers and provide delight for your existing ones, are all examples of brand behavior.

3. Consistency

If you have a brand you like, you need them to stay that way, right?

Make you the same promise, provide you the same consistent value regularly, have the same relationship, behave the same way.

In other words, you need it to be consistent.

It is one of the brand attributes that are very key to building strong brand equity over a period of time.

For example, if FedEx promises ”the world on time’, you need to depend on the brand to fulfill its promise and deliver your packages on time every single time you choose them.

If they let you down a few times, you won’t trust them anymore. This brings us to the next point.

4. Trustworthiness

Trust in a brand, like in any person, is built over time. In fact, your business growth only happens when you gain your audience’s trust.

Here are some things you can do to get the trust of your audience

  • • Have a compelling brand message
  • • Consistently communicate through valuable content
  • • Engage and interact often with your audience
  • • Maintain your brand positioning and promise
  • • Deliver value even when they’re not buying from you or after they already have

5. Values

Your brand values can make you really connect to a brand or swear off them.

Usually, they are not the most crucial factor for people choosing or connecting to the brand, but there could be cases where this becomes the single most important factor.

For example, millennials rushed to buy Nike shoes when they stood by Kaepernick.

brand attributes brand values kaepernick

Or in today’s world, people distancing themselves from brands that continue operations in Russia.

To conclude on subconscious brand attributes: it is much easier to create the sensory attributes than these subconscious ones.

Subconscious brand attributes are intangible, hard to design, and heavily dependent on your audience's perceptions, leaving you less in control. But if you remain authentic to your core brand essence, over time you will become a loved… Click To Tweet

Integrated brand attributes examples

Most big businesses get the physical brand attributes right.

They have consistent colors, design, and other tangible elements that help you recognize the brand even out of the corner of your eye.

See the below example of Starbucks.

brand attributes examples starbucks

Source: smithrais.com

In each element of their brand touchpoint, they have the same look and feel, design element, color, messaging.

There is also a local brand that I love, called Little Dutch.

Whether big or small, all their products have the same feel: natural, minimalistic, organic, pastel, subtle.

brand attributes examples

brand attributes examples little dutch

One of the best examples of brands that combine all the brand attributes to give a consistent brand experience is Amazon.

 

brand attributes examples amazon

Their positioning is all about providing the best customer experience. So they bring everything together:

• Design/ logo element of a smile

• Friendly color of orange

• Large selection of physical and online products like music and video

• Smooth and easy logistics like delivery and returns

• Supportive customer care officers who make the buying process easy

• Consistent brand experience

Yes, they get a bad name for putting small businesses out of business, for destroying the economy, for favoring their own brands.

But they never say they are the best for businesses that sell through them.

They say they offer the best to customers.

So some people wouldn’t buy anything from them, but that’s also okay. Because no matter how big you are, you cannot sell to everyone.

The most crucial part of branding is to appeal to your specific audience and gain their loyalty. Click To Tweet

How to set your own brand attributes

The best way to define your brand attributes is to start with building a complete brand story.

  • Know your audience
  • Know your brand
  • Bring it together and keep it that way.

In other words, identify your competitive positioning and what sets you apart from other brands to your audience, and carve out the attributes that seamlessly integrate to make your brand unique.

It all starts with your story.

Some specific tips:

1. Prioritize your target audience

Your brand attributes should be a perfect match to your niche audience. It need not appeal to everyone. In fact, you can’t be universally appealing.

One of the first steps to creating your brand story is knowing your audience. Spend a lot of time on this, and continuously keep gaining insights to refine your attributes further.

2. Keep it simple

The important thing for every brand is not to overwhelm your audience with too many elements.

So while you may have to work on creating them at your end, your brand should be easy and effortless for your audience to interact and engage with and remember.

3. Keep it integrated

While it may seem a lot to create all the above attributes, the end experience should feel natural and one unit.

One tip is that when you create the sensory attributes, keep in mind the subconscious ones as well.

When it comes to brand attributes examples, one brand comes to mind: Uniqlo. It is a high-quality but basic fast-fashion brand, and is known for its simple designs.

They also implement this simplistic, minimalistic approach in their stores and communication.

brand attributes example uniqlo

Source: Mario Tama/Getty Images

They even have labels on clothes that mention the source country of the fabric.

Uniqlo has retained its promise of high quality at an affordable price for decades now and has gained global likeability and trust.

Concluding Tips

It seems overwhelming, to set so many brand attributes so that it stays in the minds of your audience. But here’s the thing

  • Take baby steps. Don’t try to do everything together
  • Refine and tune based on your learnings. Not everything needs to be cast in stone from day one.
  • Know your story. That really is the starting point

Now over to you. Did you already define your brand attributes? What challenges did you face? Are your attributes working for you?

Get started with creating your brand story and attributes

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Lisa Sicard
6 months ago

Hi Poulomi, I really liked this one as I haven’t thought of my own brand like that. I’ve changed my typography a few times but have kept my orange color. You really have given me more to think about going forward as I just redesigned my website. Thank you.