What are Brand Elements? Criteria for Choosing, Challenges, Opportunities

What are Brand Elements?

The different components of a brand that identifies and differentiate a product can be called brand elements. The brand elements are:

  1. Brand Name
  2. Logos and Symbols
  3. Slogans
  4. Packaging

Brand Name

The brand name is a fundamentally important choice because it often captures the central theme or key associations of a product in a very compact and economical fashion. Brand names can be an extremely effective shorthand means of communication.

Naming Guidelines

Selecting a brand name for a new product is certainly an art and a science. This section provides some general guidelines for choosing a name. It focuses on developing a completely new brand name for the product. Brand names must be chosen with the six general criteria given below.

  • Descriptive: Describes function literally.

    Ex: Indian Airlines, Professional Courier

  • Suggestive: Suggestive of a benefit or function.

    Ex: Memory vita, Memory plus, Glucovita

  • Compounds: Combination of two or more often-unexpected words.

    Ex: Redhat

  • Classical: Based on Latin, Greek or Sanskrit.

    Ex: Meritor

  • Arbitrary: Real words with no obvious tie-in to company.

    Ex: Apple

  • Fanciful: Coined words with no obvious meaning.

Logos and Symbols

Although the brand name typically is the central element of the brand, visual brand elements play a critical role in building brand equity, especially in terms of brand awareness. Logos have a long history as a means to indicate origin, ownership or association.

There are many types of logos, ranging from corporate names or trade marks written in a distinctive form to entirely abstract logos, which may be completely unrelated to the work mark, corporate name, or corporate activities.

Often logos are devised as symbols to reinforce the brand’s meaning in some way. Logos can be quite concrete or pictorial. (TVS-Horse, Ponds Talcum powder- flower)

Benefits of Logos

  • Because of their visual nature, logos and symbols are often easily recognized and can be a valuable way to identify products.

  • Another branding advantage of logos is their versatility: Because logos are often nonverbal, they can be updated as needed over time and generally transfer well across cultures.

  • Because logos are often abstract, without much product meaning, they can be relevant and appropriate in a range of product categories. For example, corporate brands often develop logos because their identity may be needed on a wide range of products.

  • Logos and symbols can be particularly important in services because of their intangible, abstract nature. For example, many insurance firms use symbols of strength and security. (e.g., the logo of Life Insurance Corporation)

  • Unlike brand names, logos can be easily changed over time to achieve a more contemporary look.


Slogans are short phrases that communicate descriptive or persuasive information about the brand. Slogans often appear in advertising but can play an important role on packaging and in other aspects of the marketing program.

For example: Britannia Milk Bikies’ slogan, “Eat healthy Think Better” appears in ads and on the wrapper.

Benefits of Slogans

  • Slogans can be devised in several ways to help build brand equity. Some slogans help to build brand awareness by playing with the brand name in some way (Thumps up, Taste the Thunder, Mango Fruity, Fresh and Juicy etc.).

    Other slogans build brand awareness even more explicitly by making strong links between the brand and the corresponding product category by combining both entities in the slogan (e.g., “If You’re Not Wearing Dockers. You’re Just Wearing Pants”).

  • Slogans can help to reinforce the brand positioning and desired point of difference.

  • Slogans are often closely tied to advertising campaigns and can be used as tag lines to summarize the descriptive or persuasive information conveyed in the advertisements.

For example, DeBeers diamond’s “A Diamond is forever” tagline communicates the intended advertisement message that diamonds bring eternal love and romance and never lose value.


Packaging involves the activities of designing and producing containers or wrappers for a product. The objectives of packaging are to:

  • Identify the brand

  • Convey descriptive and persuasive information

  • Facilitate product transportation and protection

  • Assist at home storage

  • Aid product consumption

Benefits of Packaging

Packaging can have important brand equity benefits for a company. Often, one of the strongest associations that consumers have with a brand relates to the look of its packaging. Structural packaging innovations can build or reinforce valuable brand associations. New packages can also expand a market and capture new market segments.

Criteria for Choosing Brand Elements

In general, there are six criteria in choosing brand elements:

The first three criteria – memorability, meaningfulness and likeability can be characterized as “brand building” in nature and concern how brand equity can be built through the judicious choice of a brand element.

The latter three, however, are more “defensive” in nature and are concerned with how the brand equity contained in a brand element can be leveraged and preserved in the face of different opportunities and constraints.


A necessary condition for building brand equity is achieving a high level of brand awareness. Brand elements can be chosen that are inherently memorable and therefore facilitate recall or recognition in purchase or consumption. The intrinsic nature of certain manes, symbols, logos and so on may make tem more attention getting and easy to remember. Ex: Surf, Fanta.


The inherent meaning of the brand elements can enhance the formation of brand associations. Brand elements may take on all kinds of meaning, varying in descriptive, as well as persuasive, content.

Brand names could be based on people, places, animals or birds, or other things or objects. Two important dimensions of the meaning of brand elements are the extent to which it conveys general information about the nature of the product category and the specific information about particular attributes and benefits of the brand.

Ex: Boost, Sunlight soap, Medimix


The brand elements can be chosen that are rich in visual and verbal imagery and inherently fun and interesting.


The fourth criteria concern the transferability of the brand element in both a product category and geographic sense. First, to what extent the brand elements are useful for line or category extensions? Second, to what extent does the brand element add to brand equity across geographical content and linguistic qualities of the brand element.

For example, one of the main advantages of non-meaningful names (e.g. Exxon) is that they translate well in to other languages since they have no inherent meaning.


The fifth consideration concerns the adaptability of the brand element over time. Because of changes in consumer values and options, or of a need to remain contemporary, brand elements often must be updated over time.

For example, logos and characters can be given a new look or a new design to make them appear more modern and relevant.


The sixth consideration concerns the extent to which the brand element is protectable both in a legal and competitive sense. In terms of legal considerations, it is important to (1) choose brand elements that can be legally protected on an international basis, (2) formally register them with the appropriate legal bodies, and (3) vigorously defend trademarks from unauthorized competitive infringement.

Branding Challenges and Opportunities

Although brands may be important as ever to consumers, brand management may be more difficult than ever. The challenges for brand managers are discussed below:

Savvy Customers

Increasingly, consumers and business have become more experienced with marketing and more knowledgeable about how it works. A well-developed media market has resulted in increased attention paid to the marketing actions and motivations of companies. Many believe that it is more difficult to persuade consumers with traditional communications than it was in years gone by.

Other marketers believe that what consumers want from products and services and brands has changed.

For example, Kevin Roberts of Saatchi and Saatchi argues that companies must transcend brands to create “trust marks”- a name or symbol that emotionally binds a company with the desires and aspirations of its customers.

Brand Proliferation

Another important change in the branding environment is the proliferation of new brands and products, through the rise in line and brand extensions. As a result, a brand name may now be identified with several different products of varying degrees of similarity.

Procter & Gamble’s original Crest toothpaste has been joined by a series of line extensions such as Crest Mint, Crest for kids, Crest Baking Soda, and Crest Multi care Advanced Cleaning.

Media Fragmentation

An important change in the marketing environment is the fragmentation of traditional advertising media and the emergence of interactive and non traditional media, promotion and other communication alternatives.

The commercial breaks on network TV have become more cluttered as advertisers increasingly have decided to advertise with 15 second spots rather than the traditional 30 or 60 second spots.

Marketers are spending more on non traditional forms of communication and new emerging forms of communication such as interactive, electronic media, sports and events sponsorship, in –store advertising, mini bill boards in transit vehicles and in other locations.

Increased Competition

Both demand-side and supply-side factors have contributed to the increase in competitive intensity. On the demand side, consumption for many products and services has fattened and hit the maturity stage, or even the decline stage of the product life cycle.

As a result, sales growth for brands can only be achieved at the expense of competing brands by taking away some of their market shares.

Increased Costs

As the competition is increasing, the cost of introducing a new product has also increased. It makes it difficult to match the investment and level of support that brands were able to receive in previous years.

Greater Accountability

Stock analysts value strong and consistent earnings reports as an indication of the long-term financial health of a firm. As a result, marketing managers may find themselves in the dilemma of having to make decisions with short-term benefits but long-term costs.

Moreover, many of these same managers have experienced rapid job turn over and promotions and may not anticipate being in their current positions for very long. These different organizational pressures may encourage quick-fix solutions with perhaps adverse long-run consequences.

Brand Management Topics

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