Building Distinctive Brand Assets: The Key to a Strong Brand Identity

An image of several Apple product boxes featuring the iconic white Apple logo prominently displayed on a plain background. The ample white space surrounding the logo serves as a distinctive brand asset, creating a clean and recognisable visual identity for Apple products.

By Nine Blaess | 2:13 min

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    Have you ever pondered over why certain brands stay in your memory while others don’t? Some brands have logos, slogans, or packaging designs that instantly come to mind, while others fail to leave a lasting impression. Research indicates that strong brand assets are, on average, 52% more prominent than those of their competitors.[1] So, what precisely are brand assets, and how can your company develop and capitalise on distinctive brand assets?

    What are Brand Assets?

    Brand assets can be both tangible and intangible elements that make up a brand’s identity. They include:

    • Visual brand assets like logos, colour palettes, typography, packaging design, and imagery
    • Verbal brand assets like slogans, taglines, or tone of voice
    • Auditory brand assets like jingles, voiceovers, and sound effects
    • Scent brand assets like signature-scented environments, products, or marketing materials.
    • Tactile brand assets like the materials used in packaging, a product or a retail environment
    • Symbolic assets like brand values, brand personality, and brand story 

    What makes a brand asset distinctive?

    Distinctive brand assets are those recognisable and memorable features that make us instantly think of a particular brand when shopping in a category. You may have heard people refer to “strong brand assets” or “iconic brands,” which are often used interchangeably.

    The term “distinctive brand assets” was coined by Jenni Romanuik, an author and researcher at the Ehrenberg-Bass Institute. According to her, these assets act as triggers that prompt consumers to think of a particular brand name without explicitly stating it.

    Romanuik emphasises that these assets must be both, famous and unique to ensure that consumers can easily associate them with a particular brand (fame) and that there is no confusion with other similar brands (uniqueness).

    Ehrenberg-Bass Distinctive Assets Grid showing that distinctive brand assets are unique and famous
    Source: Ehrenberg-Bass Institute[2]

    How to build distinctive brand assets?

    Here are some steps you can take to make your brand assets more distinctive:

    1. Identify the brand’s most relevant brand assets 

    These could be tangible brand assets, such as logos, typography, and tone of voice, or intangible, such as the brand story.

    2. Determine the most effective brand assets

    Based on research and testing, evaluate which assets are most recognisable and memorable to the consumer.

    3. Ensure consistency across all brand touchpoints

    Ensure the brand assets are consistent across all brand touchpoints, including packaging, advertising, website, and social media. This way, people can build strong memory structures associated with them.

    4. Focus on developing a few key assets

    Increase the use of the elements that most effectively express the brand identity. Note that sometimes it is the combination of two or more brand assets that makes the brand distinctive, especially when it comes to brand colours.

    5. Invest in ongoing monitoring and evaluation

    Only through regular evaluation can you ensure that the brand assets remain successful over time. If necessary, you can make adjustments to increase the effectiveness of the assets.

    Following these steps, a brand can build distinctive brand assets that come to consumers’ minds at the right moment in the customer journey.

    By the way, the simpler an asset, the better. According to research by Siegel+Gale, companies with more simple brand assets outperform those with more complex ones by 200%.[3]

    Real-world examples of distinctive brand assets

    There are plenty of examples of distinctive brand assets out there. Here are just a few of them:

    The logos of Coca-Cola and Snickers feature such iconic fonts the companies can use their fonts without featuring the company name. Yet, people can still identify the brand.


    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 the logo.

    Image shows Snickers replacing their logo font with words associated with hunger
    Image source: Ad Week [4]

    Tiffany & Co.

    Tiffany blue® is an example of a distinctive brand colour. The trademarked colour has become the signature feature of Tiffany & Co., appearing on its packaging, website and retail shops.

    Tiffany Blue as an example for a distinctive brand asset
    Image source: Tiffany & Co. Website [5]

    Air New Zealand

    A prime example of distinctive brand typography is Air New Zealand’s custom typeface, designed by Designworks.

    Air New Zealand font as an example for a distinctive brand asset
    Image source: Fonts in use[6]


    Nike’s “Just Do It” is a famous example of a distinctive brand slogan. The slogan was created in 1988 by the advertising agency Wieden+Kennedy and has since become one of the most recognisable brand slogans in the world.

    Image source: Sydney Morning Herald[7]

    In summary, distinctive brand assets are essential to building a powerful brand identity. Focusing on a few key brand assets and using them repeatedly and consistently across touchpoints can ensure a brand becomes top of mind in its category.

    If you enjoyed this article, you might enjoy Jenni Romanuik’s book “Building Distinctive Brand Assets,” too.


    [1] WARC. Distinctive brand assets – what they are and why they matter–what-they-are-and-why-they-matter/en-gb/3484

    [2] Ehrenberg-Bass Institute for Marketing Science. Distinctive Asset Measurement

    [3] Siegel+Gale. World’s simplest brands

    [4] Image source: Ad Week. Snickers Swaps Out Its Brand Name for Hunger Symptoms on Painfully Honest Packaging

    [5] Image source: Tiffany & Co. Website. 

    [6] Image source: Fonts in use. 

    [7] Image source: The Sydney Morning Herald. Nike’s ‘Just do it’ slogan inspired by death row prisoner’s last words

    Titel image by Alan Quirván:


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