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.

Glossary of Branding Terms (PDF Download)

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This glossary of key branding terms is an easy-to-use reference tool that helps define terminology used in the branding and marketing world.

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Branding Terms

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Brand

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.

Brand Ambassador

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.

Brand Archetype(s)

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

Brand Architecture

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

Brand Assets

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.

Brand Attributes

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

Brand Audit

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

Brand Awareness

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.

Brand Discovery

The process of objectively examining a brand to better understand its role within the competitive landscape and gain insights into its consumers and what motivates category purchase. Brand discovery will reveal strengths, weaknesses and what customers value most among the brand’s offerings and why.

Brand Discovery Examples

Brand Equity

The value of a brand’s financial and non-financial assets measured by its quality of public awareness and influence. Brand equity represents the sum of all distinguishing qualities of a brand, drawn from all relevant stakeholders, that result in personal commitment to and demand for the brand; these differentiating thoughts and feelings make the brand valued and valuable.

Brand Experience

The means by which a brand is created in the mind of a stakeholder through all experiences and interactions with or involving the brand. 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 that combine to form a clear, differentiated overall brand experience.

Brand Extension

The means by which a brand is created in the mind of a stakeholder through all experiences and interactions with or involving the brand. 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 that combine to form a clear, differentiated overall brand experience.

Brand Gap

The gap between an organization’s business and creative strategies. Bridging the gap creates a cohesive brand identity that unites strategy and creative teams, and drives better customer connections.

Brand Guidelines

A guide that conveys how brand standards are to be applied, and enables their consistent use as campaigns are executed.

Brand Guidelines Examples

Brand Harmonization

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. This consistency allows for a clear articulation of offerings that set boundaries and facilitate harmony between a brand’s promise and the public’s expectations.

Brand Identity

The outward expression of a brand as it is seen and heard in the market—specifically the distinguishing verbal and visual elements and messages that appeal to the customer. These include the brand name, logo, tagline, tone and typography. Brand identity reinforces the brand’s position relative to the competition and articulates the intended brand message.

Brand Identity Examples

Brand Image

The uncontrolled outtake of a brand in a customer’s mind based on experiences, impressions and/or assumptions. For users, this is based on practical experience of the product or service (informed impressions) and how well this meets expectations; for non-users it is based almost entirely upon uninformed impressions, attitudes and beliefs.

Brand Image

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.

Brand Management

A continued analysis and execution of all techniques utilized to maximize the value of the brand over time. The management of all tangible and intangible elements representing or supporting the brand experience with the goal of increasing brand awareness and enhancing brand loyalty.

Brand Management Examples

Brand Map

A visual manifestation of a brand that provides a top-level view of all its inner workings, including employee roles, brand purpose, offerings and pricing. The brand map can be a useful tool to guide employee onboarding and training as well as larger organizational initiatives such as mergers and acquisitions.

Brand Map Examples

Brand Personality

The attribution of human personality traits (seriousness, warmth, imagination, etc.) to drive differentiation and customer connection. These traits inform brand behavior and are manifested to customers through employee actions and through prepared communication, packaging and advertising.

Brand Positioning

The distinctive space that a brand occupies in its competitive environment to ensure that individuals can recognize and elect the brand over others. Brand positioning involves the careful manipulation of all marketing elements in order to claim the brand’s desired market position and clearly establish its unique impression in the customer’s mind.

Brand Positioning Examples

Brand Preference

A gauge of customer choice in a particular category, or the act of a customer choosing one product over another.

Brand Salience

The strength or weakness of a brand in a particular purchasing decision, influenced by its brand positioning.

Brand Standards

A comprehensive document or rulebook affirming the principles of a brand and providing guidance for understanding its legacy, vision, mission, personality and attributes. Brand standards inform staff, external agencies and vendors of the code under which the brand operates. It serves to establish appropriate usage, variants and application of each of the brand assets, and specifies how each element fits together.

Brand Strategy

The long-term strategy that guides a business in the development of a brand and its implementation in every aspect of marketing and operations. It serves as a guidepost for internal stakeholders and partners and clarifies a company’s value to its customers.

Brand Strategy Examples

Brand Valuation

The estimated financial value that all of a brand’s tangible and intangible assets bring to a company. It is frequently used to guide brand strategy and make the case for branding investments, and it showcases the impact that a brand has on business performance now and in the future.

Brand Values

An unwavering declaration of values or promises that steers a brand toward its “true north.” Brand values are the internal attributes that establish a brand’s unique transactional philosophy, underline its purpose and guide its decisions and behaviors.

Branding

Creating, selecting and blending attributes to differentiate a product, service or business in an attractive, meaningful and compelling way. It works to illustrate the brand using consistent themes that align with brand promises to build the preference and loyalty of the consumer.

Branding Agency

Branding agencies specialize in strategic brand building and management. Unlike advertising or marketing agencies, branding agencies focus on strategically positioning a brand in the competitive market and in the mind of the consumer rather than on tactically communicating brand services or offerings.

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Co-Branding

The use of two or more brand names in support of a new product, service or venture. Co-branding is a strategy that couples the strengths, awareness and customers of one brand with another in order to increase brand equity, target specific markets and/or combine brand values in the mind of the consumer.

Color System

A brand’s master color guide that consists of primary and secondary palettes of print and digital color values that govern all usages of brand assets to ensure a sense of hierarchy, consistency, usability and harmony. The strategic selection of color, tones and hues evokes emotion for—and recognition of—a particular brand.

Color System Examples
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Differentiation

The process of researching, identifying and marketing unique characteristics of a brand, as compared to those of its competitors.

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Endorsed Brand

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.

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Intangibles

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.

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Market Leader

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.

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 (how many units sold) or value (the worth of units sold).

Masterbrand

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.

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Parent Brand

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

Positioning Statement

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.

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Rebranding

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.

Repositioning

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
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Sub-brand

A product or service brand that had its own name and visual identity to differentiate it from the parent brand.

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Tangibles

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.

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).

Trademark Examples
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Visual Identity

What a brand looks like–including, among other things, its logo, typography, packaging and literature systems.

Visual Identity Examples