Glossary of Branding Terms
Brand Equity? Unique Buying Proposition? Brand Architecture? Whether you are a Marketing Director, CEO, or Entrepreneur, it’s important that we understand each other. The following definitions are included for that purpose.
A mix of tangible and intangible attributes, symbolized in a trademark that can be managed to create value for organizations and customers. It is the physical representation of a company’s offerings and values, but can exist subjectively in a person’s mind. 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.
The face or spokesperson of a brand. The brand ambassador, which historically took the form of a CEO, celebrity endorser or other paid affiliate, represents the essence of a brand and is a controlled effort to humanize brand messaging, mission and outreach. More recently, employees, loyal customers and anyone passionate about the brand, have assumed the title. The ambassador eats, breathes and lives the brand, providing customers with a tangible and influential brand experience while serving as the campaigner, defender and avatar of the brand.
Categories of brands that share specific, universally recognizable personality traits, attitudes, and behaviors. These archetypes are drawn from influential psychiatrist Carl Jung’s theory that humans use symbolism to understand larger concepts. 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. Identification with and archetype allows brands to foster a deeper connection and understanding with their target audience. These archetypes can then be used to align the brand with specific customer personas and focus the efforts of marketing teams.Brand Archetype(s) Examples→
The organizational system that defines how a company’s individual brands relate to and interact with one another. It shows the role and hierarchy that each brand plays in the greater structure of the company and defines the function of each. It provides clarity to companies and enables them to differentiate their brand elements and be intentional about managing brand equity.Brand Architecture Examples→
The individual elements that come together to form the outward-facing brand. Brand assets include the fonts, colors, animations and resources that must work together in order to forge the distinctive appearance of a brand. While each element can stand alone to spark recognition of the brand, the union of all these elements is what creates a cohesive brand identity.
The touchstones that define the qualities and personality of the brand in a customer’s mind. Brand attributes help establish the spirit and tone that inform all communications and effectively guide internal culture. They are the qualities that make a brand unique, personal and recognizable.Brand Attributes Examples→
A thorough, under-the-hood examination of a brand to 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 Audit Examples→
The ability of a brand’s customers to identify the brand in a crowded market, and their level of familiarity with the brand’s unique buying proposition. Greater brand awareness is often a primary goal of marketing a product or service and is critical when launching a new brand. Brand awareness coupled with brand preference creates an opportunity for premium pricing.
The sum of all distinguishing qualities of a brand, drawn from all relevant stakeholders, that results in personal commitment to and demand for the brand; these differentiating thoughts and feelings make the brand valued and valuable.
The means by which a brand is created in the mind of a stakeholder. Some experiences are controlled such as retail environments, advertising, products/services, websites, etc. Some are uncontrolled like journalistic comment and word of mouth. Strong brands arise from consistent experiences which combine to form a clear, differentiated overall brand experience.
Leveraging the values of the brand to take the brand into new markets/sectors.
Ensuring that all products in a particular brand range have a consistent name, visual identity and, ideally, positioning across a number of geographic or product/service markets.
The outward expression of the brand, including its name and visual appearance. The brand’s identity is its fundamental means of consumer recognition and symbolizes the brand’s differentiation from competitors.
The customer’s net “out-take” from the brand. For users this is based on practical experience of the product or service concerned (informed impressions) and how well this meets expectations; for non-users it is based almost entirely upon uninformed impressions, attitudes and beliefs.
Practically this involves managing the tangible and intangible aspects of the brand. For product brands the tangibles are the product itself, the packaging, the price, etc. For service brands (see Service Brands), the tangibles are to do with the customer experience – the retail environment, interface with salespeople, overall satisfaction, etc. For product, service and corporate brands, the intangibles are the same and refer to the emotional connections derived as a result of experience, identity, communication and people. Intangibles are therefore managed via the manipulation of identity, communication and people skills.
The attribution of human personality traits (seriousness, warmth, imagination, etc.) to a brand as a way to achieve differentiation. Usually done through long-term above-the-line advertising and appropriate packaging and graphics. These traits inform brand behavior through both prepared communication/packaging, etc., and through the people who represent the brand – its employees.
The distinctive position that a brand adopts in its competitive environment to ensure that individuals in its target market can tell the brand apart from others. Positioning involves the careful manipulation of every element of the marketing mix.Brand Positioning Examples→
Selecting and blending tangible and intangible attributes to differentiate the product, service or corporation in an attractive, meaningful and compelling way.
The use of two or more brand names in support of a new product, service or venture.
Creation or demonstration of unique characteristics in a company’s products or brands compared to those of its competitors.
Generally a product or service brand name that is supported by a masterbrand – either dominantly e.g. Tesco Metro or lightly e.g. Nestle Kit-Kat.
Incapable of being touched. Intangible assets include: trademarks, copyrights, patents, design rights, proprietary expertise, databases, etc. Intangible brand attributes include: brand names, logos, graphics, colors, shapes and smells.
A company that has achieved a dominant position—either in scale or influence—within its field. This leading position often comes about because the company was the first to market a certain type of product and, with the protection of a patent, has managed to consolidate its position before direct competition was possible. Alternatively, a company may overtake a previous market leader through greater efficiency and skillful positioning.
A brand that dominates all products or services in a range or across a business. Sometimes used with sub-brands, sometimes used with alpha or numeric signifiers. Mercedes-Benz and BMW are both employed as masterbrands.
A brand that acts as an endorsement to one or more sub-brands within a range.
A written description of the position that a company wishes itself, its product or its brand to occupy in the minds of a defined target audience.
When a brand owner revisits the brand with the purpose of updating or revising based on internal or external circumstances. Rebranding is often necessary following a merger, acquisition, or if the brand has outgrown its former identity.
Communications activities to give an existing product a new position in customers’ minds and so expanding or otherwise altering its potential market. 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.Repositioning Examples→
A product or service brand that had its own name and visual identity to differentiate it from the parent brand.
Capable of being touched. Tangible assets may include: manufacturing plant, bricks and mortar, cash, investments, etc. Tangible brand attributes may include: the product and its packaging. Tangible brand values may include: useful qualities of the brand known to exist through experience and knowledge.
“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).Trademark Examples→
What a brand looks like – including, among other things, its logo, typography, packaging and literature systems.Visual Identity Examples→