Meet the Test Your Brand Distinctive Assets Test

Distinctive brand assets: providing brand owners with the toolkit for driving fluency and long-term brand performance

Why Test Distinctive Assets?

At System1, we’ve shown how brand performance can not only be measured by Fame, Feeling and Fluency, but also how it predicts future changes in market share within a category. 

When it comes to Fluency, we know that the more easily your brand is recognised, the easier it is to choose and charge a premium for but how can brands drive fluency? One of the answers is through their distinctive assets.

What is a Distinctive Asset?

A distinctive brand asset is any piece of material or collateral – written, verbal, or other sensorial – that cues the correct brand, whilst having little association with competing brands in the same category.

Distinctive assets are like a secret sauce that set your brand apart from the competition; acting as a beacon of recognition in a crowded marketplace. It’s that unmistakable… thing…. that immediately triggers the correct brand association in consumers’ minds.

These distinctive assets can take various forms: from visual cues like logos, colors, and packaging designs, to sonic elements like jingles, music in advertising, or taglines. 

They can even extend to sensory experiences, such as the aroma of a particular fragrance or the texture of a product.

But what truly defines a distinctive asset is its ability to cut through the noise and capture attention in a way that is uniquely tied to your brand. It’s about creating something memorable and instantly recognizable, yet singular enough to avoid confusion with competitors.

Distinctive Assets: Best Practices

Over the years, countless brands have tried their hand at distinctive assets. The best transcend individual campaigns or mediums, acting as a ubiquitous touchpoint that customers recognize; wherever, whenever they encounter it. 

Wondering how to set about creating a successful distinctive asset? Here are a few pointers to get you started. 

  1. Consistency is Key: Ensure your distinctive assets are coherently used across all touchpoints, from advertising campaigns to product packaging. 
  2. Simplicity Rules: Keep your distinctive assets simple and easy to remember – avoid clutter or complexity that could dilute their impact.
  3. Versatility Matters: Choose flexible assets that can adapt to different contexts and mediums without losing their recognizability.

Why Bother With Distinctive Assets?

When differentiated and consistently applied, distinctive assets provide the foundation to build fluency for brands;

  • Maximizing the effectiveness of creative campaigns
  • Maximizing the pack impact on shelf and in-use
  • Driving long-term brand performance and growth

Looking at the impact of the use of characters in TV advertising for example, via the IPA databank, we see that those campaigns deploying such a distinctive asset outperformed other campaigns on multiple business effects.

How – and Why – Distinctive Assets Work

Distinctive assets work their magic through a combination of psychology, branding principles, and consumer behavior. At a base level, they tap into the fundamental ways our brains process information and make decisions.

Distinctive Brand Assets

  • Cognitive Processing: Distinctive assets leverage cognitive processing shortcuts (known as heuristics, in case you wondered) to facilitate faster decision-making. When consumers encounter a familiar brand asset, such as a logo or jingle, their brains automatically activate (hopefully positive) associations linked to that brand, speeding up recognition and reducing cognitive effort.
  • Memory Encoding: When consumers repeatedly encounter a distinctive asset in various contexts, it becomes encoded as part of their brand memory structure, making it easier to recall and recognize.
  • Brand Salience: Distinctive assets enhance brand salience. By creating memorable and easily identifiable cues, brands increase their real estate in the minds of consumers.

Introducing the Distinctive Assets Test

To understand whether your distinctive brand assets are – well, distinctive enough – we have developed our own proprietary method for auditing them: the Distinctive Asset Test. 

As part of Test Your Brand, this allows brand owners to understand how they can better utilize their distinctive brand assets to strengthen the brand’s fluency and accelerate growth by answering three key questions:

  • What distinctive brand assets does your brand currently have?
  • What distinctive assets does it need to develop further or create new?
  • Which distinctive assets are not ownable within the category?

This is achieved by measuring, under time pressure, both the level of correct attribution for each distinctive asset and the speed at which it is attributed to the correct brand.

Distinctive Assets: Your Market and You

In a crowded marketplace, distinctive assets set brands apart from competitors and help them stand out in consumers’ minds. By creating unique visual, auditory, or sensory cues, brands establish an unmistakable identity that distinguishes them from the competition.

Consistent use of distinctive assets across all touchpoints reinforces that identity and builds brand equity over time. Whether it’s a logo on packaging, a jingle in advertising, or a signature color scheme, consistency ensures that consumers intuitively associate that asset with the brand.

Crucially though, distinctive assets have the power to evoke deep emotions and create genuine connections with consumers. 

Whether it’s through nostalgia, surprise, excitement, or humor, distinctive brand assets tap right into our core emotions and bolster our bond with the brand – but only when executed successfully.

Contact us today to chat with one of our team about performing your own Distinctive Asset Test.


At System1, we help the world’s largest advertisers make confident creative decisions that lead to transformational business results. Our powerful advertising insights platform (Test Your Ad) and our idea testing platform (Test Your Idea) help brands predict the commercial potential of ads and ideas. Complementing TYA and TYI is Test Your Brand, our brand tracker which measures the impact of ads and ideas on brand health, ensuring long-term brand growth through predictive success.

Get in touch or book a demo with one of our experts to learn more.

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