A brand represents the essence of a company, which is built upon the characteristics that a business already has.
The simple definition of “attributes” is: a quality or feature regarded as a characteristic or inherent part of someone or something. So brand attributes are characteristics that the audience sees as an inherent part of a brand.
Brand attributes are developed in the process of creating a brand strategy for a business. Even if a business hasn’t yet mapped out its brand strategy and pinpointed its brand attributes yet, those attributes already exist under the surface — it will just take a few steps to identify them.
As a designer, it is crucial to define the brand attributes for your clients before the branding and design process begins, and especially before the visuals are created (such as logo design, website design, and stationery).
Your client’s brand attributes will be reflected the most in the colors, shapes and overall feel of their brand, so if you don’t know their brand attributes before you start designing, you risk creating a visual identity that falls flat and fails to attract customers to their business.
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What are examples of brand attributes?
Since brand attributes are the same attributes that a person can have, we can use a person as an example. If a person, let’s say Nick, is our friend and he is friendly, smart, welcoming, successful, professional — those words would be his attributes.
Now let’s apply these types of words to brands instead of people. Adidas is successful, smart, and professional (just like Nick!). When consumers think of Tesla, they think of innovation. Starbucks evokes feelings of consistency and quality.
Brand attributes also include the deeper values of a business — not just the first impression that customers have, but the values and characteristics that customers don’t yet know about a company at first glance.
Brand attributes are made from the culture of a brand, its potential customers, the emotions those customers have, and its brand voice.
How to define brand attributes for a business?
For designers and strategists who want to help your clients develop attractive visual designs, I would recommend following these 4 steps to find the brand attributes of your clients:
1. Identify their brand culture. Brand culture includes where their brand is coming from and all the characteristics their culture has. Examples could be smart, reliable, and knowledgeable.
2. Describe the attributes of their potential customers. Potential customers are the people who are attracted (or could be attracted) to your client’s product or services — so what are the attributes of those people? What traits do they share? Examples could be organized, local, and simple (look for positive attributes, of course!).
3. Pinpoint the desired emotions of the target. When discussing emotions related to brand attributes, focus on the emotions that your client’s customers will have AFTER using their product or service. Examples include helped, happy, and understood.
You can find our complete to identifying your target customer and their desired emotions in our Ideal Client Blueprint here:
4. Define their brand voice. Brand voice is how a business sounds to others, and a brand voice can sound creative, friendly, or exciting.
After going through these four questions and brainstorming words to help your client, you will likely have too many words to choose from. At that point, choose one key word from each of the steps above — so for our example, you would emerge with a brand that is knowledgeable, local, happy and creative.
These characteristics are important for designing a logo, business cards, brand board, and website. Once these brand attributes are defined, make sure all your colors, placements, typography, and design elements align with those attributes so that your client’s brand has consistency in how it sounds, looks, and feels to others.
Fonts are one of the most overlooked areas of design. If you use fonts that capture and express your client’s brand attributes, you can help them attract more customers. To help you, I put together this guide to the 10 best fonts (and exact font pairings) that are perfect for health and wellness brands:
If you’re a creative entrepreneur and need to work on the branding or rebranding for your own business, brand attributes are crucial to your own success as well. You will need to create a personality for your own brand so that your content, offers, and products can connect with potential consumers.
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