It’s hard to build relationships with people whose personality you can’t really put your finger on. The same goes for brands. Want to connect with your customers? Take a look at your brand attributes.
What are Brand Attributes?
Brand attributes are what characterises your brand, without looking at what you do or sell. It’s the core values and characteristics — your brand’s personality traits so to speak. It’s what consumers see when looking at your brand as a whole.
You can compare brand attributes to what you think of a person when you first start talking to them. Some values and traits will immediately shine through, such as kindness, curiosity, being helpful — or the opposite of those things.
A brand attribute is one of those qualities your business has. It’s not all up to the consumer’s perception of you: if you work on defining them for yourself and using them as the foundation for your communications, they’ll actually become yours.
To make it a little less abstract, let’s split up brand attributes in two categories: hard and soft.
Hard brand attributes are things like your name, logo, and slogan. It also includes your vision, your mission statement and what your website, product, and content looks like. Basically, it’s everything you have a lot of control over.
Then there are soft attributes. Those are things like your credibility and your consistency. Your uniqueness, appeal, and transcendence. Yes, you also have control over those things — but most brand managers don’t put ”work on our consistency” on their weekly to-do list. Your soft attributes should shape themselves based on the values and company culture you define.
What are Some Good Examples of Brand Attributes?
Your brand consists of a huge amount of puzzle pieces — brand attributes that make you ‘you’. People have attributes, and businesses do too. Some strong brand attributes you could connect your brand to are words like: knowledgeable, inclusive, innovative, uniting, down to earth, creative — and so on. Let’s look at some brands whose distinctive attributes are always at the forefront of everything they do.
5 examples of brand attributes you’ll recognize
A must-have in lists like these, is the beloved Apple. Apple’s brand attributes are all about lifestyle. You don’t just have an iPhone, you’re an Apple user. In their messaging, imagination and innovation are important. They focus on creativity and shaping technology to benefit human needs. That focus becomes clear in their designs: an iPhone billboard usually only shows, well, an iPhone. No crazy fonts, funny copy — it’s about the technology — and about you. They are incredibly product-focused and their simplicity is easy to recognize. You’ll remember the product, not some jingle.
Just do it. Empowering. Provocative. Inclusive. Nike has a clear set of brand attributes, and they rarely miss the opportunity to reinforce those. They don’t post ”just” content, they make statements. Nike likes a challenge, and likes to challenge its target audience.
If you think about Volkswagen, you either think of their old hippy vans, or their robust, trustworthy cars. What the two have in common, is their durability. That is what Volkswagen turned into its brand attributes: they’re all about being reliable.
It’s an honest brand, a safe choice. It’s practical, and doesn’t rely on big innovations or flashy new additions to their fleet to keep customers coming back. A great example of how they show these brand attributes is their campaign Think Small. It’s from 1959, but still the foundation Volkswagen builds their brand on.
Walk into any drug store, and take a look at the packaging of, let’s say, moisturizers. Some packaging is screaming for your attention. Drawings of pin-up models, pictures of natural ingredients, bold promises — you’ll see it all. And then there is Nivea, quietly waiting on the shelf until you realize that, yes, that’s the safest bet.
Nivea has beauty products, but thanks to their brand attributes, you are less likely to compare them to diva-like and glamorous brands. Nivea is more seen as skin care. Being caring is what they pride themselves in. They don’t promise that you’ll look twenty years younger in a fortnight. They just show you their product, how to use it, and that that’s a great way of self-care. They keep it simple, which makes them trustworthy.
Last but not least on the list — good old Levi’s. Their brand attributes are simple yet powerful: empathy, originality, integrity, and courage. They want you to know you can count on them. It’s why they still sell their classics, and why you can get your jeans repaired for a fraction of the price if they ever do rip. It shows that they don’t just want to sell you a new pair then. They know you’re not ready to say goodbye to your 511s just yet. So, they’ll fix it. Levi’s brand’s attributes are shopper-centric. They don’t follow trends, but rather are a dissenting voice against all the unwearable, one-season items and flashy commercials.
Why do brand attributes matter?
What we’re trying to say is: don’t stop at creating a mission statement and vision. Be conscious about the impact of design — and words. Picture your brand as a person. How do you want people to relate to you?
Playing it safe and staying neutral with your brand attributes is not the way to success. If you meet someone who is bland, neutral on anything and uninspiring — you probably won’t build a relationship with them.
But then there are these confident people. Daring. Cheeky. So smart. People who are unapologetically themselves. You’ll know why you want to hang out with them. You can do the same for your brand. Here’s what brand attributes will do for your business.
They make your marketing more authentic — and with that, more effective
Only about 51 percent of consumers believe that less than half of brands create authentic content. A big problem, given that 90% of those consumers also said that authenticity is a deciding factor when they give their support to a brand. Want better marketing campaigns? Don’t just focus on witty copy or beautiful design. It has to come from a place of authenticity.
They help you shape your brand identity
A consistent brand is easy to recognize. If you’re looking to build a brand identity, which we highly recommend for growing brand awareness, it’s crucial that you’re consistent. Formulating your brand’s personality and brand characteristics will take out the guesswork of communicating according to your brand identity.
They make your brand positioning stronger
If you want to set yourself apart from your competitors, it’s time you define your brand attributes. A proper positioning strategy is built on knowing where you want to stand and how you want to compare to others in the market. Don’t just do a competitor analysis: analyse yourself as well. Sitting down and figuring out what your brand attributes are, will help you find that distinctive competitive edge and the right place in the market.
They are crucial to a holistic brand strategy
Having clear brand attributes will help you take over your target market by storm. Formulating them when drawing up your brand strategy is an important step. It’ll guide you not only in what you’ll do, but also in how you will do it.
How can you make your brand attributes come to life?
It’s not enough to write down and wish that your potential customers will see you as inclusive or innovative. Your brand attributes will ultimately shine through in your actions and how you choose to present yourself. That will be in your communication, but also through design.
Create clear guidelines on how you will communicate your attributes through content and other channels. Your brand attributes shouldn’t only be visible in your Instagram posts, but also in the messages your customer service agents send to your customers.
How to Identify Your Brand’s Attributes
Are you excited about creating brand attributes as strong as Nike’s and Apple’s? Here are some tips and important things to keep in mind when you develop your branding and find the characteristics that describe your brand.
1. Find your core values
The most important question you should ask yourself to define your values is: what changes or impact do you want to make to the world — or to the lives of your target group? Your values translate into brand attributes.
2. Look at your company culture
Your values mean nothing on paper. They have to be felt by everyone who works with and for you. You’ll have to get every single person in your organization on board when it comes to your values and attributes -they’ll be the ones carrying it out.
3. Connect your values to your product or service
Volkswagen isn’t the only company that sells cars. You can go for Adidas instead of Nike — they basically have the same stuff. Yet, we consider them to be different. That’s because these brands connect their values to their product. They have to match. You can’t wish to be reliable if your product breaks fast. Linking your attributes to your product the right way will help you set yourself apart from your competitors.
4. Get to know the attributes of your target customers
When we connect to others, it’s often because we can identify with them — even if it’s a company. We recognize parts of ourselves in them. Maybe it’s a shared value, similar characteristics, or a quality we find important. Want to connect to your potential customers? Get to know them and be relevant to them.
5. Translate your attributes to voice and visuals
It’s time to make things real! Sit down with experts in their fields that understand how words, shapes, colours, and structures provoke certain emotions. With those designers, copywriters, strategic minds and marketers, you can lay the groundwork of a brand messaging strategy that revolves around your attributes and will create a strong brand.
What brand attributes would you be proud to have?
If you’re working on your brand positioning, don’t skip the step of formulating your brand attributes. Every brand attribute you have will ultimately make it easier to create powerful, meaningful campaigns.
Want to know exactly how powerful? With our (free!) brand tracking template, you can measure the ROI of brand building and see how those brand attributes pay off. Get started in a matter of minutes and find out how actionable our data really is.
Head of Customer Research
Sam joined Attest in 2019 and leads the Customer Research Team. Sam and her team support brands through their market research journey, helping them carry out effective research and uncover insights to unlock new areas for growth.