The Ultimate Guide to Brand Terminology

From brand ambassadors to buyer personas, brand dilution to vector files, it can feel like you need to learn to speak a new language to speak branding. While the lexicon can be initially confusing, I try not to get too micro and lost in definitions, but instead look more to the macro of understanding what branding should strive to accomplish.

Oftentimes branding and marketing are used interchangeably; while there are some similarities, they’re different. Branding is strategic while marketing is tactical. True branding is so much more than a logo or graphic element. Great branding creates loyal customers and passionate employees. It’s also a strategic piece of your marketing puzzle. Thought to only be reserved for the larger companies, branding is essential for nonprofits, small and medium-sized businesses, individuals in the form of personal branding — even special events.

A great brand inspires us to take some sort of action. Products and services can be copied and replicated, but successful and authentic brands have a purpose and can’t be duplicated — simply put, they’re unique.

You don’t need to become the Merriam-Webster of brand terminology, but these are a few of the top terms that we regularly use with clients. All business owners should familiarize themselves with these terms to create branding magic.

BRAND AMBASSADOR

An individual that’s employed by a company or organization to help raise brand awareness and increase sales. They complete a variety of tasks, ranging from promoting products or services to implementing marketing campaigns. (BetterTeam)

BRAND AWARENESS

The extent to which a brand is recognized by potential customers and correctly associated with a particular product or service. The more familiar people are with something, the more they trust it and gravitate to it. (ThriveHive)

Pro Tip: Brand awareness is that hard-to-quantify, difficult-to-calculate ROI concept at the very top of your marketing and sales funnel. However, it’s difficult to have wins cascade to the bottom of the funnel without constantly working to fill the top of the funnel first with increased brand awareness.

A robust digital presence including social media and your website are important for this stage of the branding game. Look to craft your perfect mix of content on social media by including content from others, branded content that provides value to your audience, and finally — the smallest of all — branded promotional content.

BRAND DILUTION

When a company’s brand equity diminishes due to an unsuccessful brand extension, which is a new product the company develops in an industry that they don’t have any market share in. (HubSpot)

BRAND EQUITY

A marketing term that describes a brand’s value. The value is determined by consumer perception and experiences with the brand. If people think highly of a brand, it has positive brand equity. When a brand consistently under-delivers and disappoints to the point where people recommend that others avoid it, it has negative brand equity. (Shopify)

BRAND IDENTITY

The collection of all elements that a company creates to portray the right image to its consumer. (99Designs)

BRAND STYLE GUIDE

The primary visual DNA of your company’s branding, which additionally can — and arguably should — reference grammar, tone, word usage, point of view, and more. Essentially, it’s a document that describes, defines and presents examples of what your brand looks like in various mediums, such as print and digital forms. (Executionists)

Pro Tip: While spending the resources to have a brand style guide created for your company can seem like a waste of time and money, it’s critical to have this document in place to ensure every expression of your brand, across all internal and external touchpoints, is consistent.

No matter how detailed or succinct your brand style guide is, you should include sections for logo usage, color and color palettes, typography, photography, iconography, voice and usage examples. Whether you do your branding yourself or engage an agency or partner, a brand style guide will ensure you can build a trustworthy, recognizable and scalable brand.

BRANDING

The process of giving a meaning to specific organization, company, products or services by creating and shaping a brand in consumers’ minds. (The Branding Journal)

EMPLOYER BRANDING

A company’s ability to differentiate and promote this identity to a defined group of candidates that they’re interested in hiring. (Beamery)

EMPLOYEE VALUE PROPOSITION

A set of associations and offerings provided by an organization in return for the skills, capabilities and experiences an employee brings to the organization. (Talent Lyft)

Pro Tip: Just as companies use a value proposition as a promise to customers and prospective customers, you should use an employee value proposition (EVP) as a promise to employees and prospective employees. Although closely aligned, your EVP isn’t your company mission, vision, values and purpose.

Whether it’s formally defined or not, you probably already have at least the beginnings of an EVP if people are working for your company. If you want to formalize it, create a diverse focus group of employees from all different walks of life and ask questions about the work environment, career progression, compensation and benefits, values alignment, etc. Common themes will bubble to the surface and provide you with a great framework for a formal EVP.

FONT

A collection of characters with a similar design. These characters include lowercase and uppercase letters, numbers, punctuation marks, glyphs and symbols. (TechTerms)

LOGO

Simply a type of design a company, brand or individual chooses to represent themselves by. (DesignCrowd)

LOGOMARK

Refers to an image or symbol which represents a brand, and usually does not include the name of that company. (DesignCrowd)

LOGOTYPE

The logotype, also known as a “word mark”, is a brand name styled as a logo. (DesignCrowd)

MISSION STATEMENT

A short statement that focuses on today and what an organization does to achieve it. (ClearVoice)

PERSONAS

Personas are fictional “characters” that companies design to represent the real people that typically use or purchase a product or service. (Creative Market)

Pro Tip: It’s incredibly hard to put an effective sales and marketing strategy together if you don’t know where your target audience gets their information, what their problems are, what their days are like, and how they make decisions. Well-written buyer personas ensure all activities geared towards your potential customers are targeted and help solve their problems.

To craft buyer personas, begin with asking yourself detailed questions about your ideal customer. Then, compare those answers with colleagues — the answers will be enlightening. Creating great buyer personas is an art and take some time; however, they help your business empathize and understand the processes, strategies and tools you will need to grow and acquire customers.

TAGLINE

One phrase (sometimes two) that provides clarity, entertainment, or emphasis to help highlight a brand’s mission, purpose, or culture. (Kajabi)

TYPOGRAPHY

The technique that you can use to arrange language in an organize manner. These characteristics can be the font type, size, the way the font is spaced, and even the different types of typefaces. (Freelancer)

VALUE PROPOSITION

A statement that answers the “why” someone should do business with you. It should convince a potential customer why your service or product will be of more value to them than similar offerings from your competition. (Kuno Creative)

VECTOR FILE

Constructed using mathematical formulas rather than individual colored blocks known as a raster (think a JPEG file format like a digital photograph), vector file types such as EPS, AI and occasionally PDF are excellent for creating graphics that frequently require resizing. (MODassic)

VISION STATEMENT

A short statement that focuses on tomorrow and what an organization wants to ultimately become. (ClearVoice)

Often, companies and individuals don’t pay attention to their brand or simply don’t make it a priority. But by not creating and cultivating a brand, you’re depriving your company — or yourself — of the highest potential reach.

This list isn’t all-inclusive, but familiarizing yourself with these terms will help to get you on your way to branding success. Remember, branding isn’t rocket science, but it does take time to do it right.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Chris Skaggs is the co-founder of BODDHI Branding, a creative agency with a vision to authentically and creatively construct stories to help your brand grow. Digital and social media, branding, recruitment and content strategy are all functions Chris has developed building teams, processes and strategies from the ground-up. Dedicated to giving back Chris also co-founded Leighton’s Gift, a non-profit with a mission of turning a tragedy into something positive. He also serves on the boards of a variety of different organizations. A natural storyteller, Chris’ work and experiences have been featured on CNN, Marketing Sherpa, Thrive Global, CBS Radio, Recruiter.com and Glassdoor. Get connected online, @chrislskaggs.

Dad • Storyteller • Brand Builder ∙ Nonprofit Leader • Co-founder of #BODDHIbranding and #LeightonsGift • Head of Brand #TSProckstars

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