Do you know what brand values are? Can you confidently tell the difference between a logo, a visual identity, and a brand? I know. Branding terms can be confusing. That’s why I’ve created a comprehensive brand glossary aiming to clarify common brand vocabulary.
Branding Terms from A-Z
A brand refers to a company’s reputation and the way it is perceived by the public. The brand is formed from the expectations, memories and stories associated with the company—and its ability to live up to them.
Unlike branding, which is the active effort to shape people’s perceptions of the organisation, brand refers to how people actually perceive it.
Brand activation is a marketing strategy that actively engages customers through interactive experiences such as events or social media campaigns.
The goal is to build an emotional connection between the brand and its audience and encourage desired actions such as buying products or creating loyal fans.
Brand architecture is a strategic framework that helps companies effectively structure and manage their brands within a portfolio.
It enables companies to align each product’s brand strategy and positioning with the market, even when catering to different target groups with different products or services.
There are three main types of brand architecture:
- Monolithic brand architecture (branded house): The company name is applied to all products and services. There are no separate sub-brands. Example: FedX (FedEx Express, FedEx Ground, FedEx Freight)
- Endorsed brand architecture: sub-brands are associated with the corporate brand but retain a separate identity. Example: Marriott International (Marriott, Sheraton, Ritz-Carlton “by Marriott”)
- Freestanding brand architecture (House of Brands): Each brand has its own independent identity. There is no visible connection to the umbrella brand. Example: Procter & Gamble (Pampers, Gillette, Ariel).
Brand assets encompass all the elements that represent a brand and communicate its distinctiveness to the public.
These assets include tangible elements like the logo and website, as well as intangible elements such as the brand story and values.
When combined, these brand assets form the brand image and shape its unique identity.
Brand associations are the mental connections people make with a brand—the feelings, thoughts and ideas that come to mind about a particular brand.
Brand awareness means that consumers recognise and feel familiar with a brand. It is the degree to which consumers know that a particular brand exists.
Marketing collateral, or brand collateral, refers to all the media and materials created to promote a company and its products or services.
This includes brochures, leaflets, catalogues, landing pages, banner advertisements, and other related items.
Brand colours are a specified system that determines which colours are used and how. The aim is to create a uniform and recognisable appearance.
Brand consistency means that a brand maintains a uniform and recognisable identity across all communication channels and touchpoints.
The goal is to ensure that all brand elements are consistently applied to provide customers with a coherent experience, regardless of where they interact with the brand.
Brand culture encompasses the values and beliefs that guide a brand’s behaviour and interactions with employees, customers, and other stakeholders.
It serves as the foundation for corporate culture and influences the overall brand perception.
Brand differentiation is the process whereby a brand sets itself apart from its competitors by emphasis on its strengths, values, and/or unique selling propositions.
Differentiation can be achieved in many ways, for example through outstanding product features, unique pricing, high quality or excellent customer service.
Brand equity is the added value of a brand. It refers to the premium customers are willing to pay to purchase a product or service of a particular brand compared to a similar generic product.
The brand essence is the central idea summarising the substance of a brand.
Often the brand essence is expressed in less than three words, such as “safety” (Volvo) or “spreading ideas” (TEDx).
The brand experience is the sum of all interactions a person may have with a brand.
Some of these experiences can be influenced by the brand deliberately, such as the website, packaging, customer service or the retail environment. Others, like customer reviews, are beyond the company’s direct control.
Strong brands are characterised by consistent brand experiences that evoke positive associations and strengthen brand trust.
A brand extension means leveraging an existing brand into new markets.
One example is Dyson, which successfully expanded from vacuum cleaners to hair dryers, building on its already-established brand equity.
Brand identity includes all the elements created to express the unique personality of an organisation. It plays an important role in differentiating the company from its competitors.
Brand identity is composed of visual and verbal identity. It’s also referred to as corporate identity or CI.
The brand image is the overall impression people gain from their experience with a brand.
This impression is influenced by various factors, such as the brand’s reputation, identity or the quality of its products and services.
The brand launch refers to the process in which a new brand is presented to the public for the first time.
Making a strong first impression is crucial during this phase as it helps establish a lasting position in the minds of consumers, leveraging the primacy effect to create a positive and memorable impact.
Brand loyalty refers to consumers’ tendency to remain devoted to a particular brand over an extended period, consistently choosing to consume its products or services.
Some brands like Johnny Cupcakes have such loyal customers that they form a kind of tribe.
Brand management means effectively overseeing a brand and ensuring its message, values and identity are conveyed consistently.
It also takes into account current market trends and customer preferences to adapt the brand accordingly. The aim is to build a strong and successful brand and maintain it over the long term.
Brand messaging is about communicating the essence of a brand in the right words. Simply put, brand messaging defines what a brand says and how it says it.
Brand messaging includes brand voice, elevator pitch, tagline, website copy, and more.
The brand mission describes the overarching purpose—or fundamental goal—a brand pursues. It defines why the brand exists and what it wants to achieve.
A brand name is a specific term used to identify and distinguish a company, product or service from others.
A good brand name should be concise and easy to remember to enable strong brand recognition and association.
Learn step-by-step how to create a strong brand name.
Brand parity is the degree to which different brands in the same product category are perceived by consumers as similar or different in terms of their characteristics, features and benefits.
Brand perception is the overall impression people have of a brand. It is based on their experiences, beliefs and attitudes towards the brand.
This includes the way customers interpret and respond to their interactions with a company.
Brand personality is a set of human characteristics assigned to a brand, consistent with its values. When implemented well, the brand personality shines through all brand experiences.
An example of a strong brand personality is the plant-based milk brand Oatly. Oatly is perceived as rebellious, original, and charming, which is reflected throughout its design, copy, and marketing strategy.
Brand pillars are the fundamental principles on which a brand is built. They represent the core values, beliefs and attributes of a brand that differentiate it from other brands.
Typically, a brand includes three to five Brand Pillars that serve as the foundation for its brand communications.
For example, Firefox’s Brand Pillars are:
- Track Record
- Empowering Innovation
- Community Driven
- Challenger Spirit
The brand platform is a document that outlines the basis for building and managing a brand. It’s a summary of the essential elements on which all brand management decisions are based.
The brand platform usually includes the following elements:
- Vision, Mission and Values.
- Target audience
- Brand pillars
- Brand personality
- Brand voice
Brand positioning refers to the strategic placement and perception of a brand in the market relative to its competitors. It entails establishing a distinct and unique position for the brand and firmly embedding this position in the minds of consumers.
For example, Volvo stands for safe cars, Mercedes for reliable luxury, and Tesla for sustainable vehicles with a certain image factor.
A brand promise clearly describes the specific benefits and experiences customers can expect from a brand. It builds trust and credibility by signalling what customers can expect from the brand.
Brand recognition refers to our ability to recognise and distinguish a brand based on its visual, verbal or other sensory cues such as logo, slogan, packaging or jingle.
To increase brand recognition, a company should strengthen its brand assets by engaging in targeted marketing.
Brand reputation is the collective perception of a brand by its customers, employees, investors and other stakeholders.
Brand salience indicates how easily a brand comes to mind when making a purchase decision.
Strong brands have a high salience, and weak brands have little to none.
Brand storytelling is the art of using storytelling techniques to communicate a brand’s message, values, and identity.
Additionally to creating compelling and inspiring narratives, brand storytelling is about fostering an emotional connection and a sense of shared identity between the brand and its audience.
Here’s how you can leverage brand storytelling in your organisation.
Brand strategy is like a compass for a brand, providing long-term guidance and direction. It lays the foundations, such as values, positioning, brand personality and central message, and sets clear goals for success.
As a guide for all brand communications, the brand strategy ensures that the brand is presented in a consistent and focused way.
It influences not only communication but also overall corporate management to ensure consistent brand behaviour and brand experiences.
Brand Style Guide
A brand style guide—or brand guidelines, brand manual, or corporate design manual—is a comprehensive document specifying all brand elements and explaining how to use them.
The brand style guide serves as a reference for employees, designers and other stakeholders to ensure a consistent representation of the brand across different channels.
It provides clear instructions on the following:
- Brand vision, mission and values
- Verbal communication (tone of voice, brand message, …)
- Visual communication (logo, colour palette, typography, photography, illustrations, …)
- Application examples
Brand touchpoints include all interactions or experiences a person may have with a brand.
This may happen through various channels, such as social media platforms, websites, physical retail environments, or trade show stalls.
Brand typography is a system that determines which fonts a brand uses and how to create a consistent and recognisable identity.
Here you find everything you need to know about choosing brand fonts.
Brand values are the core beliefs held by a company.
They serve as a compass for corporate decisions and help build a shared identity and trust with the brand’s audience.
A brand’s vision is an inspiring and forward-looking idea of what the brand wants to achieve in the long term. It describes the ultimate goal the brand is striving for.
A vision statement may sound like this: “A world in which … [something is different].”.
Brand voice refers to a distinct tone, style, and personality a brand adopts in its communications. It encompasses how a brand expresses itself to bring across its messages and values.
Elements such as word choice, sentence structure, rhythm, and the emotions conveyed in communication contribute to shaping a consistent brand voice.
Learn how to create a distinctive brand voice in 6 steps.
Branding is the process of deliberately shaping the identity of a brand.
It involves developing elements that will characterise the brand’s appearance and experience. This includes not only tangible elements such as logo and brand voice but also intangible elements such as mission, values or brand storytelling.
The goal of branding is to create a unique identity for the brand that people will recognise and connect with.
In this article, I explain the best time for branding and why there is no one-size-fits-all answer.
Employer branding shapes a company’s reputation as an employer. The aim is to attract top talent and retain it long-term.
Co-branding is a strategic partnership in which two or more brands with similar values jointly develop a product, service or campaign.
This collaboration aims to leverage each other’s strengths and advantages to create a mutually beneficial partnership.
Understand Co-branding in-depth, including its types, benefits, risks, and examples.
A logo is a graphic symbol consisting of typography, an image, a shape or a combination of those. It gets used to represent and identify a brand.
A well-designed logo should be memorable, representative and timeless. It should communicate the brand’s identity effectively without relying too heavily on overly detailed or descriptive elements.
This article teaches you everything you need to know about logo file formats.
A Masterbrand is a brand name that represents an entire company or product line. It covers all the offerings under its umbrella.
Sometimes, the Masterbrand is combined with sub-brands or other identifiers to differentiate specific products or models. For example, we can see this with “Audi A3” or “Virgin Hotels.”
Rebranding is the process by which a brand changes its appearance and/or strategic direction to achieve a new positioning or perception.
This involves revising elements such as the logo, colour palette—and sometimes—the brand name, for example, to improve the brand’s competitiveness and appeal or to target new markets.
A tagline is a short phrase representing a brand and conveying its identity. It is so memorable that people often immediately recognise the associated company, even without knowing the brand name.
“Think different”. “Just do it”. “I’m Lovin’ It”. You probably know which brands these taglines belong to, don’t you?
You may find my in-depth article about taglines, including 50+ great examples, helpful.
Visual Identity System
The visual identity system—or visual identity—is a systematic collection of design elements visually representing a company.
These elements include logos, typography, colours, shapes, textures, photography, and various other visual features. They are thoughtfully used in all marketing and communications materials to establish and maintain a cohesive and distinctive identity for the brand.
Verbal Identity System
The verbal identity system—also known as a brand voice or verbal brand guidelines—outlines the rules for a company’s language-based communication.
It defines the vocabulary, style, tone, and themes used in written and verbal communications. This ensures consistent and uniform language across all channels.
I hope this brand glossary helps you understand the subtle differences between the various branding terms. For suggestions or questions, I’d love to hear from you.
And if you need help with your branding, don’t hesitate to get in touch.