Brand Attributes: Definition, Examples, and Lists

Adele Streissguth
Lora Lynn Fanning
Published: Dec 02, 2021
Last Updated:
January 9, 2024
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With what feels like a never-ending amount of buzzwords and catchy phrases to keep up within brand strategy, it's easy to tune it all out as noise. One of the key concepts you should make sure to never lose sight of is brand attributes.

Brand attributes are the features that consumers innately associate with your brand. Much like you may find it easier to get along with people with certain personality traits, your brand attributes can — if presented well — make your brand more attractive to some potential buyers.

Today's most successful brands have honed in on strong brand attributes their consumers are now familiar with, including Apple, Nike, and Starbucks. This guide covers the meaning behind brand attributes and why they matter for your business, and it will give you some of the best attribute ideas and examples for inspiration.

What Are Brand Attributes?

Key brand attributes are the core values that guide your brand's content.

They cover a wide scope of your brand. At the fundamental level, they include aspects like your company slogan, mission statement, innovations, visual identity, and the overall look and feel of how your brand presents itself. On a deeper scale, they reflect your key values, credibility, appeal, and — perhaps most importantly — your authenticity. Today's consumers want a brand to show who it truly is and speak up for what it values.

Branding that hides behind a veil of mystery can often give target customers an air of mistrust. This makes settling on your attributes require an honest and introspective look into your company and its intentions, above all else.

Why Do Brand Attributes Matter for Branding?

Beyond demonstrating your authenticity and transparency, brand attributes can aid you with many other overall brand strategies, including:

  • Brand awareness: When you have memorable attributes, you build your brand's awareness or people's recognition of your company. This is important because 71% of customers are more likely to buy from a brand they recognize since people tend to associate familiarity with value. It's also why consumers keep going back to big brands, instead of taking chances on a new one.
  • Brand positioning: Attributes are vital in defining your competitive edge, or your brand positioning and setting a proper positioning strategy. When choosing a product or service, consumers want to know what makes a brand unique, and what qualities set it above the rest. Settle on a few key traits that reflect your unique value, and you will stand out in the minds of your target audience when it's time to buy.
  • Brand loyalty: The characteristics of a brand will often both inspire someone to try out your brand and drive them to keep coming back. Have a consistent image, and you will find a loyal audience who is also more likely to recommend you to other people. Consider these brand loyalty examples.
  • Brand personality: Many marketers may, at first, have a hard time understanding brand attributes vs. brand personality. Brand personality is a collection of all the attributes that make up a brand. Once you have your brand attributes down, you will have developed an overall personality.
list of popular brands

The most successful and well-known brands have easily recognizable brand personalities made of distinct brand attributes. 

Brand personality is important in building an emotional connection with potential customers. It also helps you build a brand culture, in which your brand permeates every level of your business. Whether you're a large corporation, a small business, or a new startup, having a strong idea of your brand personality traits will be a determining factor in making your brand feel human.

What Types of Attributes Can Brands Have? 

Various brand attributes help you describe your brand and cement how customers associate it in their minds. These attributes help you solicit an emotional response from your customers. 

Strong Attributes

Hard, or strong, attributes are the tangible elements your customers use to connect with your brand. They include logo, name, slogan, website, product, sounds, characters, or mascots. You control strong attributes through your business model and your marketing materials. 

Soft Attributes

Soft attributes make up your brand personality. They are intangible and refer to how your customers see you. Examples of soft brand attributes include: 

  • Trustworthy
  • Relevant
  • Unique 
  • Good value
  • Innovative

You can determine your soft attributes by doing market research to see how your target audience sees your brand. If their responses don’t match your desired soft attributes, you might consider shifting your marketing campaigns to make a better connection with your target customers. 

How Do You Identify or Define Attributes for Your Brand? 

Ideally, you should identify and define your desired brand attributes before you start the marketing and branding process. Knowing how you intend to be perceived by your audience will help you select design elements that serve as visual cues to guide how your brand’s target audience perceives you. Follow these steps to get started. 

Define Your Brand’s Identity

Start by defining goals for your positioning strategy. Understand how you want to connect with your target audience on an emotional level. Align your goals with your values and vision so your brand aligns with your mission.

For example, if you want to position yourself as an innovator in your field, you wouldn’t want to stick to dated fonts or website design elements. 

Analyze the Attributes of Your Target Market

Assess your target audience to determine which elements of your brand they will likely engage with. Research your target audience to determine what they value about your brand as well as how they see you. If your target market sees themselves as conservative and hard-working, you may not want to build your brand on being innovative and carefree.

Look into your competitors to see how your target audience sees them. Knowing how you want to be perceived in relation to your competition will help drive your overall branding strategy. You can use it to position yourself as a viable alternative. 

Consider the Emotions You Want Your Target Customers to Feel

Don’t get too complicated with this step. Identify one or two primary emotions you want to evoke in your customers. You can start with Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs to get a sense of the needs your brand fulfills in your customers. 

Once you know that, you can list various emotions associated with these needs. For example, if you determine that your product meets the psychological needs of respect, recognition, or self-esteem, you might want to make your target customer feel confident or proud. Think of a car commercial highlighting a successful-looking person driving around a city in a luxury car.

Identify Your Brand Voice

Once you’ve completed the three steps above, you can identify your brand voice. Setting a goal for your brand in relation to your target audience and understanding how you want them to feel will guide your brand voice

You might choose an authoritative, confident tone to establish yourself as the leader in your field. Brands such as the New York Times or the Harvard Business Review speak in a classic authoritative tone. 

On the other hand, you could choose an inspirational brand voice, creating uplifting and motivational content. 

Curate the List of Attributes and Select the Definitive Ones

With your branding goals and market research in hand, create a list of all your existing and potential brand attributes. Next, whittle down your list to your most definitive brand attributes. 

Keeping too many attributes on your list can dilute your overall branding strategy. You can build a strong brand around a few brand attributes. Narrowing your list lets you focus your brand strategy around a solid message that resonates with your target audience. 

For example, if you’re appealing to conservative, hard-working people, you might decide your definitive brand attributes are product quality, reliability, functionality, and good value.  

Your definitive brand attributes also influence your color palette, fonts, branding guidelines, and other visual branding elements. 

How AI Can Help You Identify Attributes for Your Brand

Sifting through volumes of market research is daunting and takes a lot of time. Save yourself the trouble by using artificial intelligence to analyze the data and give you insights. 

 AI tools can sort through your social media comments, customer reviews, and other data to help you understand how your customers perceive you. You can also use AI to create customer personas and ask them questions about your brand. 

AI-generated answers can give you a sense of how your target audience perceives your brand as well as which emotions would resonate most with them. With this data, you can refine your brand messaging to appeal to these fictional target personas and their real-world counterparts. 

What Does a List of Brand Attributes Look Like?

While every brand will have its own distinguishing attributes that define its personality, a few characteristics stand out in meeting consumer demand. Understanding what makes the modern audience tick helps you develop your own brand attribute strategy. Below is a

1. Relevant

68% of respondents in a recent Forbes study said they would recommend a brand that they think is relevant to family and friends. To be relevant, brands must understand the pain points of the modern customer experience, address them, and offer pertinent solutions.

This is especially true concerning the pandemic, which fundamentally changed what prospective customers expected of brands and their interactions with them in general. In the end, being relevant shows that your brand is concerned with what its customers want, is ready to adapt to meet that desire, and listens to the feedback it receives based on those changes to continue to give excellent service.

2. Dependable

In a time of uncertainty for the future, dependability is an invaluable brand attribute. This trait also further builds trust and credibility for your brand. To reflect dependability, you must provide a consistently good product or service, stay true to your message and mission, and demonstrate excellent customer service.

3. Compassionate

Seven out of 10 Americans are more motivated to purchase if a brand shows it's working to make the world a better place. Nowadays, consumers want to know that the brands they spend money on are passionate and invested in making social change. They are also more interested in a brand's foundational values and knowing what movements a brand supports or condemns.

Being transparent about your beliefs and commitments to change will pique the interest of and loyalty in a large group of potential consumers.

4. Confident

A confident brand is one that knows its products or services will be of first-rate quality. Confident brands have done the research, zeroed in on their target audience, and can back up every claim they make. To demonstrate brand confidence, be willing to make an impactful brand promise and stick with it in every action you take.

5. Authoritative

Brand authority establishes that you're an expert in your industry. You keep up or even set the latest trends, know about all aspects of your product or service, and are confident that you will provide an exceptional experience. Developing the brand attribute of authority takes time and, often, a lot of trial and error. It requires facing challenges head-on and demonstrating your brand's ability to be innovative across the board.

6. Unique

It can be hard for brands to stand out against the competition today. Since just about anyone can start a business with a few clicks online, many markets have become oversaturated with competitors. A brand that boasts a truly unique attribute is more likely to survive and impact consumers. The best way to establish your unique trait is to perform competitor analysis and see what they're missing that your brand can solve. Creating unique advantages over competitors, such as affordable prices, can increase consumer awareness and conversions.

This collection of attributes can act as a source of inspiration and a starting point when putting together your brand strategy.

Best Brand Attribute Examples

The world's biggest brands have successfully defined their company attributes and used them to form a brand personality that resonates with consumers. Check out the best brand attribute examples below to see the attribute process in action.


Apple has managed to create an entirely new culture surrounding its products and services.

If any company today has mastered brand attributes, it's Apple. Apple gained a competitive advantage by showcasing a certain lifestyle through its advertising efforts. Those who own iPhones or MacBooks are part of the Apple culture, living in the world of the cutting-edge, the top-notch, and the must-haves. As such, Apple's characteristics can be defined as innovative, relevant, confident, and simplistic.

Take a look at the linked Apple ad. The design elements of the ad are simple — the commercial features easily identifiable sets with a single user interacting with the phone. The ad is simple, but it speaks volumes about the characteristics that loyal Apple fans know and love. Apple offers strong brand consistency letting customers know what they’re getting.

This ad clearly defines benefits of the new iPhone model to appeal to what customers want. The ad focuses on ease of use as well as innovative features of the phone’s new camera. 


Nike Slogan


Nike defines all of its brand attributes with the three simple words in its slogan.

The phrase "just do it" is linked with Nike and represents everything the company strives to be: bold, empowering, action-oriented, and unforgettable. Nike's products are also seen as dependable, used by some of the world's best athletes. At the same time, many non-athletes simply like wearing Nike shoes and fashion for their up-to-date looks and style.

Moreover, Nike has stood up for many social changes that it believes in over the years. As a result, there has been some controversy surrounding the brand, with some polarized by the causes it supports. Still, Nike has earned loyal customers because of these stances, proving that the attributes of being passionate and completely transparent can be worth it in the long run.


Starbucks has backed many social changes in recent years, reflecting its brand compassion.

As a brand known for its compassion, Starbucks has grown far and beyond a high-quality coffee shop. The company has also focused on becoming much bigger than just the drinks it sells. The brand has come to characterize itself as sophisticated, unique, artistic, and inclusive. It emphasizes the importance of the experience, creating comfortable atmospheres in its stores for people to enjoy its products.

Like Nike, Starbucks also focuses on bigger social issues. In particular, it concentrates on environmental and current social and political issues. The brand aims to be inclusive for all, emphasizing the importance of community. Similar to Nike, Starbucks' choice to take a stance has alienated some from the brand, though it continues unabashedly — another attribute many appreciate.


Tiffany’s primary brand attributes are: “Creativity, Passion, Optimism, and Individuality.” 

The company has some of the most recognizable packaging in the world. Its unique shade of baby blue is instantly identifiable and offers a clue into what lies in the box. Tiffany and Company is also known for elaborate window displays that stand out as works of art. 

The company is dedicated to storytelling with video ad campaigns that take viewers on a journey through New York or celebrate modern love stories submitted by real customers. Through these branding strategies, Tiffany highlights its commitment to each brand attribute. 


Tesla Car Interior


Tesla fosters itself as an innovator in both its brand characteristics and products.

Additional brand attributes include innovation, experimentation, daring, and sophistication. Like Apple and Steve Jobs or Microsoft and Bill Gates, it's another brand that is strongly associated with its founder, Elon Musk. Musk himself is commonly regarded as innovative and daring in his endeavors. Therefore, the brand is a clear reflection of its creator.

When a brand's attributes reflect its founder, it runs certain risks but comes with potential benefits to customers. When consumers like the founder, their characteristics, and what they stand for, they often have strong brand loyalty. However, those who dislike a founder's words or actions can quickly disregard a company's products or services, no matter how good they are.

While these above brands may differ in the specific attributes they display, they all show a determination to stay true to their roots, values, and beliefs — the ultimate must-have for brand attributes.


Harley-Davidson brands itself as rebellious. It is a proudly American brand dedicated to highlighting the freedom you can achieve by riding a Harley. This brand also conveys a masculine identity with ads that frequently feature burly men riding bikes. 

With ads highlighting people taking on the open road, this brand evokes a sense of freedom from the mundane. The brand is also associated with tough bikers who appear to shirk the rules and live life on their own terms. Focusing on these attributes has made Harley-Davidson one of the most well-known motorcycle brands in the world, with a devoted pack of loyal followers. 

Red Bull

Red Bull has a famous slogan, “Red Bull gives you wings.” The energy drink is one of the earliest and could arguably be credited with creating the market for this product. Red Bull takes its commitment to energy further by sponsoring a variety of alternative sports athletes and even has a Formula One team. 

Red Bull’s original video content includes extreme sports documentaries, live competitions, and behind-the-scenes looks at the lives of athletes from multiple disciplines. By tapping into its core audience, Red Bull has solidified its brand as an extreme, energetic force. 

Benefits of Defining Attributes for Your Business Brand

Explicitly defining your brand attributes and making them apparent in your product launches, marketing campaigns, and company culture, lets you appeal to customers and increase your market share. You can refine your branding strategy, build brand awareness, and develop strong brand loyalty. Moreover, you gain a competitive edge over other brands that haven't taken the time to hone in on their attributes.

You can start establishing your brand attributes by looking at your brand values, mission, and vision and identifying what makes you a brand worth investing in.


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