Brand Assets: What Are They?
These are all examples of distinctive Brand Assets (full credit to the Ehrenberg Bass Institute, Byron Sharp and Jenni Romaniuk for introducing us to this thinking). Put simply, Brand Assets are design elements, outside of the brand name itself, that provide a mental shortcut for people to identify your brand. Brand Assets are most commonly visual, but they can be formed by any of the five senses:
- Visual: Coke bottle silhouette
- Sound: Beach Boys “Good Vibrations” song The Good Guys
- Taste: Red Bull flavour
- Touch: Head and Shoulders curved grip bottle
- Smell: Subway restaurants baking bread
Brand Assets: Why Should I Care?
Brand Assets are not the reason why people will buy your brand, but they drive ROI on marketing in two ways:
- Advertising Effectiveness: over half of the people who recognise an ad will attribute it to the wrong brand (this is an average, but the point is, most ads will have misattribution). To compound this, many of the people that get it wrong attribute the ad to the competition. This is a massive waste of two precious resources; a) media spend and, b) creative cut through. Having strong Brand Assets helps to address this issue by allowing viewers to easily connect the ad with the brand without plastering your brand name and logo throughout (let’s face it, that just doesn’t make for an engaging ad).
- Sales Conversion: buying situations can be far removed from exposure to your advertising, both in terms of time, but also mindset (being in the supermarket is very different to sitting on the couch). People are also likely to be in “system 1” decision making mode when shopping. System 1 decision making (a termed coined by Daniel Kahneman in Thinking, Fast and Slow) refers to people’s ability to make fast decisions in an autopilot like manner. Brand Assets provide a link across touchpoints, facilitate recognition, shortcut decision making and increase the chances of conversion in buying situations. The easiest way to illustrate this is to think about the time it takes to make decisions when shopping overseas, when we lose all our decision making shortcuts.
Beyond the two factors mentioned above, Brand Assets can also imply meaning (e.g. symbolism beyond what is explicitly communicated by the brand). This requires a more in-depth discussion, something we’ll have to pick up another day.
Brand Assets: How Can I Manage Them?
Many marketers will have an intuitive understanding of their Brand Assets and will include them in communication briefs. However, intuition can be wrong and can differ from one individual to the next.
There is an opportunity to put more rigour behind how you manage Brand Assets to ultimately improve marketing ROI. As a starting point, you can determine the strength of your Brand Assets by measuring the following:
Prominence: this is the % of people that associate a particular asset with your brand and the speed in which they make this association.
Uniqueness: the second thing you want to understand is the share of association your brand has with that asset vs. the competition (i.e. is this asset uniquely associated with your brand or do you share the association with your competitors). Note: how to define your category requires careful consideration when thinking about Brand Assets – e.g. is it soft drinks or beverages more broadly.
These two measures can be plotted on a quadrant to draw clear implications:
Established Assets: brand assets that sit in the top right quadrant have a strong unique association with your brand and represent your Established Assets. Continue using these assets in communications across all touch-points.
Shared Assets: assets that sit in the top left quadrant are prominent, but the association is not unique to your brand. This can signal one of two things: these assets are category cues (shared across all brands) or they are competitor assets. Avoid using competitor assets and only use category assets in combination with your Established Assets.
Emerging Assets: assets that sit in the bottom right quadrant are less prominent, but the association is unique to your brand. Increase the usage of these assets in conjunction with your Established Assets to increase prominence. Look to use media channels that have broad reach.
Unclaimed Assets: assets that sit in the bottom left quadrant are less prominent, and are not unique to your brand. These represent a longer term opportunity to build into assets if they are not associated with competitors. This quadrant is especially important for new brands and when re-branding, to ensure assets you’re considering are not owned by current competitors.
To complement the consumer view of your Brand Assets it can also be useful to conduct an internal audit of how your Brand Assets are being used across all touch-points. By doing this you can create Usage Rate – % of time the Brand Asset has been used in your communications. This analysis can be used to identify underutilised assets by touch-point. The table below provides a hypothetical example of how you can bring this together.
Brand Assets: How Should I Use Them?
Once you have a good understanding of your Brand Assets, naturally you will want to leverage them to increase your marketing ROI. Here are three tips for leveraging your Brand Assets effectively.
- Consistency is key: building Established Brand Assets takes time and requires consistency. Even if you’re looking to refresh your communications, carefully consider how you will retain your strongest Brand Assets and most effectively integrate them at each touchpoint in communications.
- Use assets across multiple touch points: look for opportunities to use Brand Assets across all touch-points to reinforce them and imprint memories across touch-points.
- Utilise in buying situations: probably the most critical point, make sure your strongest Brand Assets are present in buying situations. This means putting a focus on shopper marketing and ensuring above the line communications (or at least elements) can be executed in the retail environment in a way that is relevant for shoppers (this is equally applicable for owned channels such as websites).
Written by Asher Hunter, Managing Director Melbourne
His passion lies in helping companies leverage insight to:
- drive category and brand growth;
- develop successful innovation pipelines; and
- inspire effective communications