Why distinctive brand assets are key to brand success.

Posted by Andy Myers on the 24th June, 2020
By identifying and utilising your brand assets, you are essentially triggering the network of brand associations in your customers’ brains. Ultimately, they are a key part of the physical embodiment of the brand’s DNA and cannot simply be left to chance.

Clearly defined and understood assets are the core foundation of any brand.
Distinctive brand assets are key to your brand’s mental availability, the all-important representation of your brand in the brain. Knowing what they are, and equally what they are not, as well of what they mean, will ensure you are maximising their effectiveness, becoming a key part of your brand’s strategic tool kit.

But the assets that make up your brand identity are far more than just a name or a logo. There are endless numbers of associations a brand may have, assets that may encompass language, colours, sounds, fonts, characters, shapes, symbols, fragrances, celebrities… to name just a few. Whether it is Coco-Cola’s unique font, Intel’s distinctive chime or even the smell of Play-Doh (yes, Hasbro managed to trademark it!) Any marketing executive will know the importance of getting your branding right, with huge budgets spent on the design and creation of a brand identity.

However, there is a problem – what stands between your brand and a clear understanding of its assets is the complexity of the human brain, or more precisely, the massive interconnecting network of associations that make up your brand in it! The idea seems simple – for example, decide on a colour, use it all the time and this equals a brand asset – right? Well, sort of right. But more wrong.

While this will no doubt be one association with your brand there are many more, maybe hundreds, maybe thousands, many intangible and fleeting. Along with all the assets you use with intent and purpose (and that assumes they are used consistently), there is all the stuff you cannot control: the latent associations of the category, what a competitor is using, cultural cues and evolving trends, maybe an influencer just started mucking about with your tagline, maybe it started trending – oops, like it or not, that’s an asset – better start trying to understand it. The end result is a complex network of association in the brain, some are strong and some are weak and it will be those that are strong that will facilitate more effortless mental availability for your brand.

Truly understanding brand assets is complex, but necessary.
To crack this problem we blend three sciences of human understanding: semiotics, neuroscience and qualitative research. Semiotics helps you both deconstruct your brand into its component parts but to also understand the cultural code beneath them. We then pair this with neuroscience to quantify the assets. Online implicit reaction time testing (RT) offers a robust way to measure the strength of your brand assets. Reaction time testing will help us understand how strong the connection between the assets and your brand are in the brain. Which will best facilitative effortless access to your brand? Doing so in a competitive context helps us understand what assets are distinctive for your brand, which you co-own with others, those that have potential and of course which to stay well clear of. The strength of this association will reveal the power of this creative element to become an asset for the brand.

However, stopping there will only take us so far – sure we know which assets are strongest and how they sit culturally. But to ensure they can truly be activated properly we use qualitative research to understand what they mean to people – how they interpret these assets in their words – what meaning they hold. Knowing this will allow you to be able to stretch and evolve, as well as deploy your assets where they are needed.

These assets are the gateway to your brand’s emotional capital, they become shortcuts to the brand, triggering specific memory structures in the minds of consumers. These memory structures facilitate brand recognition and decision-making and therefore represents a rich source of creative input for branding and marketing teams who can leverage these assets across different touchpoints.

Connecting the dots: a network of associations.
By identifying and utilising your brand assets, you are essentially triggering the network of brand associations in your customers’ brains. Whether you light up their screens with a half-eaten apple, or cloud them with a whiff of your signature fragrance in store, implicit brand-related memory structures are being activated. It is vital to understand that a brand is a sum of its assets.

In times where understanding what your consumer wants is just as important as understanding your product, knowing the best methods of how to market, and the best assets within your marketing portfolio can prove invaluable. Therefore, whether a business is sticking to its core or seeking to change its image entirely, a solid understanding of their assets, grounded in human understanding is essential. Ultimately, they are a key part of the physical embodiment of the brand’s DNA and cannot simply be left to chance.

Meet the Author: Andy Myers
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