What are brand attributes?

April 21, 2017


Many businesses struggle to understand the different terms used in branding and marketing. To help you look at your own brand, it is important to understand what these definitions actually mean. In this two-part blog post, I will be covering:

  • The difference between brand identity and brand image

  • How to build brand attributes to achieve a consistent brand identity and image


Matryoshka doll is an identity of Russia

Brand attributes
When we describe a person, we tend to relate to their character, personality and general outlook on life. It is the same when we talk about a brand. For example, when we think of Coca-Cola, we think of cool, bubbly, fun, energetic, sugary, red with white logo, and the classic shaped bottle. The character, personality, and the physical appearance of Coca-Cola are known as “brand attributes”. Brand attributes underpin and form your brand identity.  


But what if people think of attributes associated to you that are different from what you want them to think of? This can create a gap between your brand image and your brand identity. Okay, confused? What’s the difference between a “brand identity” and a “brand image”?


Brand Identity vs. Brand Image

The difference between the two is in fact very simple: brand identity is what YOU CREATE to identify yourself. Brand image is how OTHERS PERCEIVE you as a brand.


Your “brand identity” is a combination of your brand attributes, which consist of physical appearances (logo, colour(s), product shape, packaging, to name but a few), and your inner personality – for example, if we treat a brand as a person, how would we describe the brand in terms of character and personality? Popular brand identities include Virgin, which is playful, Apple is innovative and fashionable, IBM is professional, and Volvo is safe. A successful brand identity is achieved when you cover up your logo and people can still recognise you from your brand attributes.


Your “brand image” is what your audience thinks you are, although this is not necessarily the same as the identity you have built. Brand image is passive, uncontrollable, but manageable. And, it is an aggregation of all of your brand attributes felt by the audience, and a formation of their impression and opinion of your brand. Managing brand image and ensuring there’s a consistency between brand identity and brand image is an integral part of a brand strategy.


MSG Experts has summarised these differences in the table below:


Once you have compiled a list of your brand attributes, you will start to understand the difference between “brand identity” and “brand image”. Our next blog looks at how you can build your own brand attributes.


If you have any questions relating to this blog, or you need advice on branding, please feel free to contact me.



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