mcdonalds restaurant at sunset

Stand out from the crowd by understanding your distinctive brand assets

Want a brand with supercharged ability to stand out? Then you need to understand your Distinctive Brand Assets.

When a big-name brand makes a change to its logo or other parts of its visual identity, whether a tweak or a wholesale rebrand, it often sparks a lot of conversation. Not just in marketing publications, but also in the mainstream press.

Evri-one loves a rebrand

While Hermes’ recent rebrand to Evri got the design community excited with its ever-changing typeface, it was also well covered by major newspapers. The papers – and Twitter – enjoyed the moment, joking about ‘Evri parcel being damaged’.

Likewise, when Standard Life Aberdeen rebranded to the potentially unpronounceable Abrdn last year, it received a good round of eye rolling by marketers and lay people alike. Even Cadbury Dairy Milk’s relatively modest brand evolution in 2020 was widely talked about.

Why is this? Why do people love to discuss and even get wound up by a change to a brand’s visual identity? Newspapers also love to scoff at the cost for ‘tweaking’ a logo (as someone who’s worked on more than a few rebranding projects, I know it’s never that simple).

It’s because the logo, colour and other visual elements of a brand’s design are fundamental building blocks of what makes a brand what it is. Changing them is a big deal.

Elements such as logos, colour, packaging shape or mascots are the cues that allow people to notice and easily recognise a brand. They are where we anchor all the meaning around a brand that we have stored in our heads. For some, brands their visual or aural assets are so well known and unique enough to stand in place of the brand name, whilst still allowing the product or an advert to be recognised. These highly recognisable design elements are known as a Distinctive Brand Assets.

Why do Distinctive Brand Assets matter?

Distinctive Brand Assets are the key to having a standout brand. They make products jump off the shelf for shoppers and make marketing communications work harder, and so returning more profit.

For example, when you see purple rectangle with white text in a supermarket you will be thinking about delicious chocolate long before you get close enough to read the name “Cadbury Dairy Milk” on the bar. In fact, finding the colour purple in a supermarket may be how you navigate to the chocolate aisle instead of looking at the signs. And, because we tend to buy the first product we notice, by the time you are at the shelf you’ve already chosen which brand you will pick up.

Similarly, imagine you are listening to the radio while in the kitchen. You’re only half paying attention and when the ads come on it’s just a babble of voices. Except, when you hear a whistled ba-da-ba-BA-BAAA, you’re reminded that you haven’t had a Big Mac for a while.

group of meerkats

Or, you could be reading the latest headlines on Of course, you normally ignore the banner ads. Except today a furry, chirpy meerkat catches your eye and you remember you need to renew your car insurance.

A brand with Distinctive Brand Assets has superpowers when it comes to getting attention and standing out amid all the noise of marketing communication in the world.

For this reason, all marketers need to know if their brand possess any Distinctive Brand Assets, and should have a strategy to build and manage them. You need to know if an element is strong enough to stand in place of the brand’s name or not. You don’t want to risk people being confused about which brand your advert is for. If your brand does possess Distinctive Brand Assets, then you need to maximise their impact to get the most bang for your marketing buck.

How to measure your Distinctive Brand Assets

Thankfully the level of a brand asset’s distinctiveness can be easily measured using a short online survey. Once you are armed with this understanding you can create a simple strategy for building and managing your brand assets.

Every marketer wants their brand to cut through the noise, stand out and be disruptive. Without Distinctive Brand Assets and a plan for how to use them, your brand risks being lost in the sea of marketing comms, or at the point of purchase.

About the author:

Ed Steele is a Senior Strategist at CreativeRace. Alongside developing client strategy, his broad experience across 13+ years in marketing includes brand management, retail marketing and insight & effectiveness roles. Ed has worked on brands including Asda, Co op, Greggs, Anchor and Cravendale.

Need a hand with your brand strategy? We’d love to help. Get in touch with our Strategy team via the contact page.