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.



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.





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.




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.







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.






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.


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