Brand Attributes: Definition, Benefits & Examples
Brand attributes are the specific characteristics and qualities of your brand that resonate with your customers and elicit an emotional response. Brand attributes must be clearly defined, consistent, and well communicated. When your brand attributes are easily identifiable, your customers connect with your brand, remember it, and engage with it.
Updated January 3, 2022
The market is flooded with many brands competing for customers’ attention. Not to mention, customers’ attention is short and fleeting. In a sea of choices, how can you ensure your brand sticks in the mind of your customers?
The challenge is not just making a strong first impression on your customers, but also how to make that impression last. How do you open the door for customers to grow a relationship with your brand?
The key is in a brand’s attributes.
What Are Brand Attributes?
Brand attributes are a collection of characteristics that define a brand’s personality, values, and culture.
Simply put, think of your brand as a person and the brand attributes are the adjectives you would use to describe who that person is. Each person is unique and possesses a range of characteristics, and so does your brand. Your attributes distinguish you from your peers just as a brand’s attributes set them apart from its competition in the market.
For example, recent studies have shown that trustworthiness, creativity, and authenticity are the most influential brand attributes that contribute to buying decisions.
Customers are drawn to brands with attributes that resonate with them. When customers choose a brand, they are basically affirming their values or an aspect of their personality that they see in the brand.
Why Are Brand Attributes Important?
Knowing your brand’s attributes can help you manage your brand’s market positioning. When your brand attributes are clearly identified, you can effectively align them with your brand’s values, objectives, and mission.
Once you’ve connected your brand attributes with your company’s goals, you can then outline your marketing strategies using the appropriate promotional tools.
Strong brand attributes can promote global brand recognition and foster a lasting relationship with your customers. Ultimately, your goal is to grow this relationship to generate profit and strengthen your market presence.
How to Identify Your Brand’s Attributes
Defining your brand attributes can help you identify your niche and target potential customers. Additionally, this information can guide business decisions from determining which new services to offer in the future to create new ad campaigns.
Here are some tips to help you identify your brand attributes:
- Know your customers
- Use analogies
- Know what separates your brand from the competition
- Study the emotional response your brand evokes
- Identify words that best describe your brand
1. Know your customers
Knowing who their customers are can help companies sharpen their brand’s image and target customers more effectively. To get a better picture of who your customers are, create an ideal customer profile (ICP).
An ideal customer profile is a description of a company’s target market and often includes information such as:
(For B2B companies)
- Company size
- Sales cycle
By outlining details about their audience, companies can gain insight into what motivates their customers and determine how to best meet their needs.
Additional resource: Use templates like the one below from SuperOffice to map your ideal customer profile.
Once you know your customer profile, identify characteristics that align with their interests and values. Again, remember that customers are drawn to brands whose attributes they can relate to.
Read, ‘Brand Insights: How to Understand Your Customers Better.’ and ‘8 Easy Steps to Creating a Customer Profile.’
2. Use analogies
It can be difficult for company leaders to look at their brand objectively. To combat this, analogies can be another useful tool when identifying brand attributes.
By comparing your brand to something else, you may be able to discover new traits. For example, you could compare their brands to movie genres. Is your brand more like an action-thriller or a RomCom?
What characteristics does your brand share with them? Think about how to complete this sentence: My brand is like ______________.
3. Know what separates your brand from the competition
What is it about your brand that makes it stand out? By focusing on a few characteristics that resonate with customers, companies can position their brand in an overcrowded market.
Consider what differentiates your brand from your competitors and why your customers would choose your business over others. This is your company’s niche and can help you define what attributes appeal to your customers the most.
4. Study the emotional responses your brand evokes
According to a study conducted in 2016, customers are 8.4 times more likely to trust brands with positive emotional associations and are likely to purchase more from them. In fact, ads that evoke an emotional response can cause a 23% increase in sales.
Known as emotional branding, companies that can evoke emotional responses from their customers are able to differentiate themselves from competitors, foster human connection, and develop brand loyalty.
Of course, this looks different for every business. For example, some brands might stoke feelings of adventure while others help their customers feel calm.
Consider Coca-Cola, a brand built around feelings of joy and camaraderie.
Their ad campaigns often show people enjoying each other’s company, drinking a Coke, and the slogan “Open Happiness” or “Choose Happiness.” At the same time, they’re able to compete with a direct competitor, Pepsi, and “The Joy of Pepsi” campaign.
Consider: what emotions do your customers feel toward or associate with your brand?
Some brands might benefit from focus groups to better understand how they are perceived by their customer base. Just remember to be authentic and portray meaningful values when listing your brand attributes.
5. Identify words that best describe your brand
Finally, companies must outline what defines their brand. One way to do this is to sit down with your team and create a list of adjectives that describe your brand.
Consider this: if your brand was a person, how would you describe that person? Is your brand authoritative or heart-felt? Cutting-edge or down-to-earth?
To know what a brand is all about, companies should be able to identify their brand’s:
- Core values
Your attributes should reflect the values your business has outlined in its mission statement.
7 Attributes That Make a Strong Brand
While every brand is unique, there are several attributes that are consistently used to describe top brands, such as:
Brand relevance is defined by how well companies are able to connect with their customers on an emotional level. How essential is your brand to your customers’ way of life? A strong brand not only meets the needs and expectations of its customers, but also adds purpose and value.
Over time, this can reduce customer acquisition costs and increase sales.
However, remaining relevant can be difficult as trends shift and the market changes. Companies that want to stay connected with their customers must be able to:
- Stay focused on what their customers want
- Adapt to changing needs
- Provide superb customer experiences
- Focus on what makes their brand different from their competitors
- Be authentic
Despite the changing business environment and stiffer market competition, companies must be able to maintain quality across all of their products and services. Customers need to trust that the quality of the products and the customer experience will remain regardless of when or where they engage with a brand.
Consider Chick-fil-A’s branding strategy; although controversial, they claim to be committed to serving their communities. By closing on Sundays for worship, greeting customers kindly, giving employees time off, and creating scholarship and grant opportunities, they’ve built a culture around hospitality.
Customers know that whenever they visit Chick-fil-A, they will be able to buy delicious menu items and have a positive customer experience. By consistently meeting customer expectations, they’re considered trustworthy and have a loyal customer base.
3. Properly Positioned
Is your brand targeting the right market? Have you positioned your brand to reach the customers you truly want to communicate to and engage? Or is your brand talking to everybody but in the end, nobody?
A brand that exclusively caters to its target market yields two-way benefits: brand resources are more efficiently used and the intended customers’ needs are especially met, ensuring repeat business.
For example, at a glance, Trader Joe’s appears to be just another grocery store chain, no different than Whole Foods, Giant, or Safeway; however, they’ve been able to carve out their own niche as a “national chain of neighborhood grocery stores.”
Small stores, limited options, brown paper bags, and hawaiian-shirt uniforms make them seem like a casual local brand. On top of that, they carefully recruit high-energy and friendly employees to consistently create a positive shopping experience. Finally, they focus on only stocking high-quality and organic items, making this national chain feel like it’s run by local farmers.
As a result, they have a loyal customer base who will stand in long lines to buy groceries. In fact, they were the most preferred brand by customers in 2016,2017 and have consistently been listed in the top10 grocery stores since then.
A sustainable brand comes up with innovative products or solutions as well as fresh marketing concepts and tools. This keeps companies ahead of the competition, positions them as leaders in their respective industries, and can lead to business growth.
Innovation is particularly important for technology companies, but consumer goods, healthcare, and transportation are also heavily influenced by new ideas and creative concepts.
Apple, for example, is ranked as the most innovative company in the world because they regularly come up with new ideas that make their customers’ lives easier. While some argue that the technology they release isn’t that revolutionary, how their products interact with one another sets them apart from competitors like Alphabet, Microsoft, and Samsung.
Consider this: Why do people choose to buy Airpods over other bluetooth headphones? What about an Apple Watch instead of a FitBit?
For the most part, Apple’s customers buy exclusively from Apple because their products work so well together; they don’t have to worry about their products synching or loading slowly.
While this works for Apple, each company must find a way to define their brand in their industry.
To become more innovative, ask yourself:
- Can your brand’s products be improved or updated?
- Can new related products be introduced?
- What added value can your brand provide?
Is your brand trustworthy? Strong brands deliver what they promise. When a brand is credible, their customers know that they can rely on the brand to provide the products and services they expect.
People trust businesses that:
- Are transparent about their business practices.
- Hire experts who can speak knowledgeably about their industry.
- Develop professional websites that represent their brands well.
- Ask for endorsements.
- Respect vendors, stakeholders, employees, and potential customers.
A strong brand provides value to its customers’ lives beyond the initial benefits of its products. Innovations, advertising strategies, promotions, and processes can have a positive impact on your customers and should motivate them to engage with your brand.
By providing an exceptional service or product, companies turn their customers into advocates.
Finally, the qualities that make your brand special can help you stand out from others in your industry.
Rather than reflecting the same attributes as their competitors, these brands offer something completely distinctive. It could be spectacular quality, great customer service, or stand-alone branding.
KIND bars, for example, stood out when they first launched because they were a healthy granola bar option.
Unlike other brands, they provide all-natural, whole nut and fruit bars made from ingredients you can see and pronounce. They highlight this with clear packaging that shows consumers the bar’s ingredients.
They’re unique because they provide a healthy alternative to otherwise sugary snacks.
Brand Attributes Benefit Businesses
Having strong brand attributes is essential in building market recognition and recall. When your customers can identify your brand attributes easily, they will be able to relate to your brand and will want to engage with it.
While some attributes, such as relevance, innovation, and credibility are hallmarks of well-known brands, companies should be able to define what makes their brands unique.
To make sure that your brand stands out, identify the qualities that define your brand. With this information, you can create better ads, make better-informed business decisions, and target customers more effectively.
Need Help Selecting a Branding Agency?
We’ve created a directory of Branding Agencies to help you compare and connect with the right companies for your next big idea. Use client review ratings, services offered, and client focus to create a shortlist of branding firms. If you want personalized recommendations, share your project details with us.