Glossary of Branding Terms

We have compiled a list of some of the most common brand terms, and definitions for you in hopes you never have to struggle with branding lingo ever again.

Acronym

When a Brand name is comprised of its initial letters rather than the full name. Typically used when brand names are comprised of several words. For example the following companies leverage acyonym branding schemes IBM, HSBC, LG, FIAT H&M.


Brand

A brand is a mix of tangible and intangible attributes  that a company, organization or individual perceive when viewing your business. It is the embodiment of a company’s offerings and values, and is often viewed very subjectively. The brand promise, perception, experience, interaction and consistency all dictate how a brand is perceived. This is chiefly influenced by a person’s comparison of the brand promise offered versus their perception, experience, and interaction with an organization, product or service.


Brand Ambassador

A brand ambassador’s definition has been ever changing in the world that is so heavily dominated by social media. A brand ambassador can be anyone that would be an advocate for your brand, or product. However in business terms, typically companies guage what they can measure, which typically is a paid advocate or employee of the company. In todays society that revolves around “influencers” a brand ambassador can be someone with a social media following that promotes a product to their followers in exchange for a discount, rather than real pay. Celebrity endorsements have always been a staple of brand ambassadorship, but with the rise of so many small communities on social media, companies can now leverage smaller localized communities to spread their brand message and promise.


Archetypes are a concept originally conceived by famed Swiss psychologist, Carl Jung. They are categories of brands that share specific, universally recognizable personality traits, attitudes, and behaviors. Brands are categorized by twelve Jungian archetypes: The Innocent, The Everyman, The Hero, The Rebel, The Explorer, The Creator, The Ruler, The Magician, The Lover, The Caregiver, The Jester, and The Sage. Using brand Archetype’s as laid out by Carl Jung is a great way for many people to better understand how their brand should act or communicate with the outside world. They can be used to align the brand to personas and help focus marketing team efforts.

Brand Archetype


Brand Architecture

The organizational system that defines how a company’s individual brands relate to and interact with one another. This organizational system allows for clarity, hierarchy specific roles for each business as it relates to the parent and sister brands and products. It helps enable and differentiate their customer base as well as product offerings.


Brand Assets

An individual element that is part of a larger outward-facing brand experience. Brand assets include everything from typefaces photographs, colors, patterns, and voice and tone. The brand assets must work together in order to create a consistent, distinct, and standout brand experience. Each asset can stand alone to spark recognition of the brand, however the union of all these elements is what creates a consistent cohesive brand experience.


Brand Attributes

Brand attributes are usually humanized adjectives that help build the personality and qualities of the business. These brand attributes help establish the voice and tone of the brand which helps inform the brand assets and visual language for the brand. The Brand attributes must be used to create a unique and differentiated brand that can stand out in the competitive landscape.


Brand Audit

Usually occurring at the discovery phase of a brand project, the brand audit is a thorough investigation into the brand and business.  In the brand audit you may uncover performance, position and customer insights. A brand requires these inspections in order to identify strengths, weakness and opportunities for refinement or new initiatives. The results of a brand audit will align teams and set the stage to prioritize and manage any course corrections needed.


Brand Awareness

The ability of a customer, a business or organization to be identify a brand in a very crowded market. How familiar are people with the brand’s values, product values, and buying proposition. Having a great brand awareness is often the goal for every business, as it can be crucial in launching a new product or service to a consumer. Brand awareness paired with brand preference creates an opportunity for premium pricing, and a greater sell through rate.


Brand Discovery

The process of uncovering everything about a brand in order to better understand its role within the competitive landscape. This process helps us gain insights into the business’s consumers and what motivates consumer action. The discovery phase will reveal strengths, weaknesses and what customers value and why.


Brand Equity

The quantifiable and non quantifiable equity of a brand’s financial and non-financial assets. This is often measured by its quality of public awareness and influence. Brand equity seeks to represent the sum of all distinguishing qualities of a brand which are drawn from all relevant stakeholders.The goal of measuring Brand Equity is to better understand the differentiating thoughts and feelings make a brand valued and valuable.


Brand Experience

Any act or passive experience in which a brand may enter someone’s mind. Some experiences are company controlled such as retail environments, advertising, customer service,  products/services, websites, etc. Some are uncontrolled, such as blogs, news, and word of mouth. Brands become strong by building consistent experiences that combine to form a clear, differentiated overall brand experience.


Brand Gap

The gap between an organization’s business and how they represent themselves. Leaving a gap between the brand and the business makes consumers distrustful of the company. Building cohesion by eliminating the brand gap creates a unified, consistent, and trustworthy brand that consumers can put their faith into.


Brand Guidelines

A guide that not only shows how to keep brand standards consistent, but should empower every division of the company to execute consistent strong collateral.


Brand Harmonization

Harmonization occurs once you have ensured all products, messaging, and brand architecture is consistent through visuals, voice, tone and messaging. This consistency allows for a clear articulation of offerings in a familiar manor for customers.


Brand Identity

The outward expression of a brand as it is viewed and communicated in the market. Often times, people confuse brand identities with a brand’s logo. The brand identity is much more than just the visual identity or identifier of a company. It is what makes the brand different from its competition, and can be identified as a personality, voice or tone, as well as a brand’s visuals.


Brand Image

The brand image is what the consumer takes away from interacting or hearing about a specific brand. It can be positive, or negative all depending on the information a consumer has gained about a company.  Users base the brand image off practical experience of the product and how well this meets expectations; for non-users it is based almost entirely upon uninformed impressions, attitudes and beliefs.


Brand Map

Much like an website sitemap, a brand map serves as a visual manifestation of a brand that provides a top-level view of all its inner workings. Some high fidelity brand maps include employee roles, brand purpose, offerings and pricing. The brand map can be a very useful tool during employee onboarding and training.


Brand Personality

The application of human personality traits to your business or brand. These traits inform brand behavior and are built into communication, packaging, advertising and other collateral types.


Brand Positioning

The space in which a brand occupies, in the competitive landscape. This can often be a moving target as many clients are positioned as one thing, however they are looking to pivot into a new space. By understanding where your business is currently positioned, you can better understand where the opportunity for success lies.


Brand Positioning Statement

A concise, very clear, and focused statement that describes the brand’s position and inspires the company.


Brand Promise

The promise that a company makes to its consumer. Often times is a consumer’s expectations about what the brand will deliver. If the expectation is met or underachieving it can create a point of friction to consumer.


Brand Preference

A customer’s preference between two brands in a particular category or realm.The act of a customer choosing one product over another.


Brand Standards

A more extensive version of the Brand Guideline in which every instance of how a brand’s mark may be used, and a guide for printing and sizing. This rulebook is extremely comprehensive and affirms the principles of a brand and provides guidance for understanding its legacy, vision, mission, personality and attributes. Brand standards inform staff, external agencies and vendors of how to create a cohesive brand across all brand experiences.


Brand Strategy

The long-term strategy that provides the business a guide that informs the future development of the brand, and it’s implementation across every aspect of communication and marketing.


Brand Values

Values that a company holds to as irrevocable values that guide how the company builds new products, brands, and communicates outwardly. Brand values steer the company. Brand values are the internal attributes that establish purpose and guide its decisions and behaviors.


Branding

The process of creating, selecting and merging attributes to differentiate a product, service or business in an enticing, purposeful and compelling way.


Branding Agency

Branding agencies specialize in creating differentiated, compelling and meaningful brand experiences for companies.  Unlike advertising or marketing agencies, branding agencies focus on building brands that attract and pull consumers to them.


Co-Branding

When two or more companies believe in similar beliefs, but have two different target consumers, the companies can collaborate in a powerful way that leverages both brands and audience groups.


Collateral

An all-encompassing term referring to any and all marketing and product materials used for a company. This includes menus, brochures, presentation templates, email signatures, email templates, business cards, data sheets, case studies, etc.


Color System

The use and guidelines around how color is used to distinguish a brand, product, or sections of its business. A color system can consist of primary and secondary palettes of print and digital color values.


Core Values

The core values are the key internal ideologies that help unify the whole business and align employees of an organization by giving them a sense of ethos and ideology to buy into.


Design Grid

Design grids are sometimes shown,  but often the hidden underlying system of spatial units defining the organization’s use of imagery, type, and layout structure in collateral.


Differentiation

Standing out in the marketplace is a key goal for most businesses. Differentiation is the process of understanding what the market sector looks like, and how to position the business in order to stand out from its competitors.


Endorsed Brand

Often times a sub brand that needs to be attached to the master brand in some manner to lend credibility to their new product or business offering.


Eponym

A brand name that is made up around a fictional character.


Intangibles

Things you are unable to put quantifiable numbers behind. For example measuring how much someone likes a brand name, logo, or other piece of collateral.


Logo

A mark that acts as an identifier of a brand.


Logotype

Stylized lettering that is employed as a logo or mark that acts as the identifier of a brand.


Market Leader

A company that has achieved a dominant position, either in scale or influence.


Market Share

A company’s share of total sales of a given category of product on a given market. Can be expressed either in terms of volume or value.


Masterbrand

A masterbrand is the brand that houses and informs the rest of the products, services, in a range across the full business.


Mission Statement

A short, formal written statement of an organization’s purpose. The mission statement will define scope, focus, in as simple a manner possible. Mission statements define what the organization does today, while vision statements describe what the organization wants to become or accomplish tomorrow.


Monogram

A logo built out of using the initial letters from the brand name to create a visual identifier or logo.


Parent Brand

A brand that acts as an endorsement to one or more sub-brands within a range.


Positioning Statement

A statement that positions the company where it wants to be. The positioning can be focused on product, brand, target audience, or business.


Rebranding

The act of repositioning, redesigning, or retargeting a new audience when the business deems it necessary for future success. Rebranding is often necessary following a merger, acquisition, or if the brand has outgrown its former identity.


Repositioning

Repositioning may be necessary if a product isn’t selling to the correct demographic, or when communication seems to not resonate with the correct audience. Many potentially valuable products lead an obscure existence because they were launched or positioned in an inadequate manner. It is almost always possible to enhance the value of such products by repositioning them.


Sub-brand

A product or service brand that lives under a larger business function or brand.  


Tagline

A short quick string of words that captures the essence of a brand’s promise. This expression often conveys the most important attribute or benefit that the brand wishes to convey.


Tangibles

Capable of being touched. Tangible assets may measured, touched or quantified.


Trademark

“Any sign capable of being represented graphically which is capable of distinguishing goods or services of one undertaking from those of another undertaking” (UK Trade Marks Act 1994).


Value Proposition

An analysis and quantified statement of the benefits that consumers can expect. Note: You can have a value proposition that isn’t unique.


Vision Statement

Vision statements are future forward statements that speak to the future goals, dreams and aspirations of an organization. Vision statements describe what the organization wants to become or accomplish tomorrow.


Visual Identity

What a brand looks like, which includes every single piece of collateral, whether it’s the logo, website, typography, color, packaging, or design systems.


Wordmark

Much like the logotype, a wordmark is a type of logo that uses letters as the visual identifier for the brand.