Branding Glossary

A Glossary of Branding Terms for Better Client Conversations

Sometimes the most evasive terms are those we can't do business without. If you're a branding agency or expert who speaks "brand", you've come across many occasions where you had to explain the meaning of brand lingo to clients.

If you've found yourself wondering what some of these terms mean, and where your brand stands in relation to them.

Here's a handy branding glossary for easy reference:

Acronym – Brand names formed from the initial letters (or parts) of a series of words.

Area of Influence – The area covered by a brand in terms of reach to consumers. Market niche fulfilled by brand and brand message.

Brand Awareness – The measure of how many people know a brand exists.

Brand Architecture – the relative structure of an organization’s brands, i.e. a brand “family tree.”

Brand Asset – Any aspect of a brand that has strategic value — e.g., visual symbols, slogans, sounds, photos, mascots, etc.

Brand Association – To what the brand can be linked, mental connection to and recall of brand.

Brand Attributes – A specific set of characteristics that identify the visual, verbal and behavioral traits of the brand, just as personality attributes characterize the people we know.

Brand Charter – An organization’s brand constitution. The document that defines, justifies and appropriates the brand.

Brand Consistency – The ability of the brand to remain consistent throughout all brand usage.

Brand Development – The methodical evaluation, construction and continued monitoring of brand.

Brand Efficacy – Brand’s ability to produce the desired result.

Brand Equity – Brand’s value over other brands.

Brand Family – A group of brands under the same umbrella of development.

Brand Gap – The difference between the brand’s strategy and the actual experience.

Brand Identity – The way a brand presents itself to the consumer; who the brand is.

Brand Image – The mental associations, ideas, feelings and beliefs people think of when they see or hear a brand.

Brand Loyalty – Extended brand preference and deliberate decision to repeat purchase of the brand.

Brand Management – The process by which an organization’s brand is directed like any other business unit.

Brand Meaning – How the brand is defined in the mindset of the consumer.

Brand Message – The expression of the brand meaning to the consumer.

Brand Mythology – The story behind the brand’s derivation and meaning.

Brand Permission – What the brand can and cannot do according to the Brand Charter.

Brand Personality – The look and feel of the brand through the eyes of the consumer. What the brand wants to outwardly emit to the consumer.

Brand Planning – Action plan toward brand development and implementation.

Brand Position – The mindset of the brand. Where the brand stands and what the brand believes in accordance to the consumer.

Brand Positioning Statement – A clear, concise, focused statement capturing the essence of a brand’s differentiation. (Compare with “Unique Selling Proposition.”)

Brand Preference – The deliberate decision to choose one brand over another.

Brand Product Relationship – The tangible relationship between the brand and the product represented by the brand. The brand must make sense from the perspective of the product, and vice versa.

Brand Promise – The brand’s guarantee to fulfill a specific need for the consumer and for itself in an ever-changing market.

Brand Recall – Simple, immediate recognition and memory of a brand.

Brand Recognition – The ability of consumers to recognize a brand, know that it exists, and know that it is a purchasing alternative.

Brand Steward – An individual whose responsibility is to manage, monitor and adjust the brand according to the Brand Charter.

Brand Strategist – An individual dedicated to the development and analysis of brand and branding practices.

Brand Strategy – The plan of execution conducted for a brand in order to increase the brand’s market share and optimize brand functioning.

Brand Style Guide – The document defining the rules of the brand usage regarding language, printed materials, design, etc.

Brand Trigger – A specific characteristic or message of a brand that causes change.

Brand Visioning – The projected path of action upon which the brand needs to tread in order to steal share from the competition and increase market share.

Brand – Representation of consumer perception of and feeling toward a product/service.

Brandface – Who the consumer believes himself to be when using or deciding to purchase a brand.

Branding – The active process of Brand Development.

Challenger Brand – A new or rising brand that is viable in spite of other existing brands dominating the category.

Coined Name – A brand name that’s been invented or made up — e.g., Kodak, Experian. The advantage of such names is that they are easier to trademark and can be given their own meaning.

Competitive Audit – A close analysis of a brand’s competition within the market that defines the other brands present to the consumer.

Competitive Set – The group of competitive brands within the market.

Connection – The bond between the consumer and the brand.

Core Values – The principles, ethos and philosophical ideology that all employees of an organization are expected to use, live by and demonstrate on a daily basis.

Corporate Identity – Logo, signature system, and any other visual representation of the business.

Creative Brief – A document that assists an organization in their advertising efforts whose purpose is to keep messaging in line with the brand strategy and brand charter.

Decision Tree – The rational/emotional timeline leading up to brand purchase where the customer evaluates their wants and needs.

Design Grid – The hidden, underlying system of spatial units defining the organization’s use of imagery and how content is structured in two-dimensional layouts.

Differentiation – What separates one brand from another in the mind of customers.

Eponym – Names created around fictional (or real) characters.

Equity Markers – A brand’s vantage points and points of differentiation.

Equity – The value a brand possesses over other brands.

House of Brands – A business that has multiple brands that are not necessarily part of the same family or are independent from each other and the Parent Brand.

Influencer Element – The element that causes a change in behavior.

Initialism – A group of initial letters used as an abbreviation for a name or expression, each letter being pronounced separately.

Logo – The Corporate Identity element of the brand that visually identifies the product/service for the consumer (visual reflection of the brand).

Logotype – The stylized lettering often employed in a logo — separate from the symbol or icon.

Mark – The symbol, presented graphically, of the brand.

Market Matrix – The visually plotted space on a set of axes that represents the space for brand opportunity within the market space.

Market Share – The overall amount of the market from which a brand benefits and owns.

Mind Map – An image, centered around a key concept, with related words and concepts that represent semantic or other connections linked with the key concept using lines and/or arrows.

Mission Statement – A short, formal written statement of an organization’s purpose, defining its scope and focus in plain, simple, descriptive terms.

Monitoring Brand Equity – The process of ensuring and measuring brand advantages allowing a brand to make adjustments to meet changing expectations.

Monogram – A type of logo using the letter(s) from a name to create a type of visual shorthand or abbreviation.

Naming Strategy – The process by which the name of a brand emerges as the phonetic/semantic representation of the brand.

Niche Market – Marketed to a smaller group of consumers who share a specific need/desire that is not a universal consumer expectation.

Opportunity – The unoccupied space where a brand has potential to increase market share.

Optimization – When the brand is fulfilling all of its promises, gaining market share and maintaining equity to the best of its ability.

Parent Brand – The original or most widely recognized brand in a family of brands.

Personal Identity – The identity customers feel is private to them and their experience.

Playing Field – Another way of expressing the Market Space in which the brand exists.

Position Statements – Resulting statements taken from the 3Ps chart that position the brand according to consumer precepts (beliefs).

Position – A set and deliberate stance the brand takes in order to differentiate and reach the customer.

Positioned Against – When a brand is designed to directly contrast another brand in the given set.

Precept – A belief that strongly influences all decisions consumers make.

Price Elasticity – A comparative price study that shows the price ranges consumers are willing to pay for a product/service and their subsequent effects on demand.

Process – In decision making, this is a category or product description that describes the product’s attributes.

Prospects – Potential customers and markets.

Purpose – This is the reasoning behind Processes (purposes are needs and wants that are satisfied by processes).

Reach – The ability of the brand to influence a certain radius of customers.

Rebranding – The process of taking an existing brand and reworking the brand into something different and better than before.

Return on Investment (ROI) – The financial return/sales you receive directly from your investment in brand development.

Ruling Precept – The overarching precept that controls the other precepts. The dominant belief that influences the purchase decision.

Segmentation – Dividing the market by a certain characteristic.

Signals Consistency – The uniformity of all the messages conveyed that speak about a given brand. This includes: logo, themelines, taglines, signage, signature systems, press releases, advertising and marketing, and internal communications.

Signature System – Letterhead, envelopes, fax sheets, memos…etc. The internal documentation of your brand.

Sonic Branding – The use of sound to convey a brand message. i.e. Intel’s chime

Strategy – The plan that enables a brand to advance in the market.

Tactics – Individual processes used to execute the brand strategy.

Tagline – A simple, poignant phrase used to set off a logo/ad.

Target Audience – The group of consumers the brand wishes to influence or the consumers who already use brands within the considered set.

Target Market – A market defined by a certain characteristic, such as age or geography.

Themeline – A simple, powerful phrase used to reflect brand meaning.

Top of Mind Awareness – The first brand recalled, in a given category, unaided by the customer.

Typography – The font and visual appearance of lettering.

Web Strategy – The plan of effectively exhibiting the brand via the web through search engine optimization (SEO), messaging, design, and content management.