Types of DBA Image

Types of Distinctive Brand Assets


Types of Distinctive Brand Assets

While Distinctive Brand Assets (or DBAs) can manifest from any of the human senses, the majority of DBAs are visual in nature, with a small but increasing number of audio assets. While not an exhaustive or mutually exclusive list, here we break down the main types.


The obvious place to start. So often the most recognisable brand asset driven by their usage and prominence as well as the fact they normally form part of the lockup with the brand name. A well embedded logo allows for creative usage, flexibility and opens the door to colours and shapes playing wider roles.

Pack or Product Shapes & Elements

While not applicable to all, pack or product are critical DBAs for FMCG/CPG brands and often the highest reach & most common consumer touchpoint due to their visibility on shelf or at home. Most packaging falls into the average category, with time and consistency doing the heavy lifting, however stand out distinctive packs can really help propel brands forward (Check out more examples of distinctive packaging here).


Either a single colour or a combination, colour plays a key role on its own or as part of multi-dimensional DBA. However, unless a mass consumer brand, colour is very difficult to own in isolation often requiring the support of shape or more context. Guinness is an example of one brand which uses colour very well with black & white having been used consistently for years (whilst also playing on the shape of the pint). In recent years, Deliveroo is another who has used colour well, with their teal a common sight in cities globally.

Can you guess the beer brand from the following colour palette?

Via ColorsWall


Shapes in all their forms represent some of the most embedded DBAs, with the most iconic often jumping out from the brand logo. The McDonalds Golden Arches is a good example of how logo, colour & shape combine to create something recognised the world over.

Another example is Heineken, some of you may have not guessed the beer brand above from the colour palette alone, but when shape is introduced it becomes much clearer. This red star helps, consciously and subconsciously, to make Heineken Heineken against the sea of competitor green beers.

Magazines such as the Economist & National Geographic also show how colour, shape & product can combine to create powerful DBAs.


While several taglines may come to mind for you, these will most likely belong to the Nike or Apple of this world. While not impossible, words and taglines are much harder to embed without consistent use, creativity, time, prioritisation and big budgets. Test this yourself, can you recite the tagline of Adidas or Samsung? This isn’t to dismiss the importance of taglines from a distinctiveness perspective, but care is needed when relying on your tagline to do all the work in connecting disparate marketing activity alone.


The sum of many parts, style is related to a brand’s visual identity or brand world. Think of Red Bull and the illustrative style in their ads. More often than not brands follow the safe category norms. The ones that take risks stand out in the sea of sameness.

Spotify, another example of a brand using a distinctive style

Characters or Icons

Ronald McDonald, Colonel Sanders, Mr Muscle, Aleksandr Orlov AKA Compare the Meerkat, all examples of strong DBAs embedded with category buyers and even within wider culture itself. Characters or icons represents some of the most fertile territory for DBAs driven in part by our innate ability to better remember animals or faces, but also by the ability for brands to really hero and play with their characters or icons on pack and within creative.

Audio or Sonic Branding

Often underutilised in modern times, audio devices are another weapon in creating a distinctive brand. Intel is perhaps the best known example of this.

HSBC is another brand who have done some interesting work recently in this area.

It could be said that jingles, one such format, are a microcosm of marketing; an incredible hard-working device gone out of favour in preference of more trendier concepts. Some of the best examples come from brands using audio to double down on taglines and/or brand name; think Go Compare, McDonalds “I’m Lovin It”, or “Ho ho ho, Green Giant”. With the growth in audio devices, podcast advertising, and not to mention AV in general, audio DBAs may again have their time in the sun.

What are your favourite Distinctive Brand Assets? Tell us in the comments below.