Photo credits: PostNL

How do I win that coveted place in the mind of the consumer? This is the question many marketers often ask themselves. Not entirely unjustifiably so, as practice has shown that this challenge is only reserved for companies with a strong and consistent brand policy. Yet you only have to play the TV commercials of any bank, health insurance company or supermarket one after the other to see that this does not always go well. And that's a shame, because research shows that a consistent brand policy can lead to 23% more turnover[1].

You can read how to do it in the coming months in the Validators blog series written by Sabien van der Sluis and Jelmer Wit.

When it comes to establishing a consistent brand policy, Distinctive Brand Assets can certainly not be left out. Distinctive Brand Assets (DBA's) are elements like logo, colour, slogan or sound that remind consumers of a brand, even without naming the brand. Think of the yellow arches of McDonald's, the bunny of Duracell or the slogan 'Just Do It' of Nike.

Because the above examples are deeply embedded in our brains, they make us think of the brand in a millisecond when we make contact. No wonder DBAs are extremely important for effective communication. They help a brand break through the ad clutter. But a strong link between brand and element doesn't just happen by itself and requires, you guessed it, consistency. As a brand, it is already difficult to load one association into the consumer's brain. It is therefore wise to choose a number of DBAs and load them over a longer period of time. If you don't do this, you run the risk of having to repeatedly build new links between brand and DBA, which means you will never manage to secure that coveted place in the consumer's brain. Which DBAs have the most potential? You can see that in the figure below.

Figure 1: Ipsos Views, 2020[2].

The red bar is the potential of a Distinctive Brand Asset. The dark dots are the current use of a DBA in marketing.

Figure 1 shows various DBAs. The black line indicates how often they are currently used, the red bar the (unused) potential. In a series of blogs in the coming weeks, we will publish about the advantages and disadvantages of the different elements and how to use them optimally.  

Still not convinced of the power of DBAs? Here is an example from PostNL. The brand succeeded in transforming an ordinary utensil like a bicycle bag into a powerful Distinctive Brand Asset. We examined two PostNL television commercials. The first commercial was 'Tigera commercial in which a young girl's cat is missing and the postman finds it and brings it back.

Higher brand transfer through conscious deployment of DBAs PostNL

The second commercial was about the December stamps. In Tijgertje, the colour orange, the logo, the typeface, bicycle bags and the typical PostNL jacket are frequently shown. In the commercial about the December stamps, only the colour orange and the logo are briefly shown, apart from a single orange ribbon. The result? Exposure to Tijgertje, the commercial in which consumers are more frequently exposed to DBAs, leads to a significantly higher brand transfer, 76% to 65% respectively. This result is in line with the Validators benchmark, which shows that showing DBAs more often in a commercial has a positive effect on brand transfer.

What does this mean for your brand? Creating the link between element and brand takes time and a lot of money. Step one is to thoroughly research the elements with the most potential for your brand. Next, it is important to use these elements consistently over time. This does not mean that you should never deviate from these elements, but make sure that you do not keep communicating completely new assets. Even within the existing set of assets, there is enough room to be surprising, without having to compromise on functionality.


Would you like to know more about this subject?

Please feel free to contact Jelmer at



2: Data: The Power of You: Why distinctive brand assets are a driving force of creative effectiveness. 2020. Ipsos Views.