Brand Glossary: 50 Branding Terms Explained

3D typography in pale pink that reads "brand" as an intro to my brand glossary where I explain common branding terms

By Nine Blaess | 10:30 min

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    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 to help you understand common brand vocabulary.

    Branding Terms from A-Z

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      Brand

      A brand refers to a company’s reputation as perceived by the public. It encompasses the expectations, memories, and stories associated with the company and its ability to deliver on its promises consistently.

      Further, a strong brand helps differentiate the company from competitors and influences consumer’s purchasing decisions.

      A brand is no longer what we tell the consumer it is—it is what consumers tell each other it is.

      Brand Activation

      Brand activation is a marketing strategy that engages customers through interactive experiences such as events or social media campaigns.

      By creating memorable and engaging experiences, brand activation aims to build an emotional connection between the brand and its audience and increase brand visibility and awareness.

      The ultimate goal is to encourage desired actions, such as buying products or fostering loyal fans.

      Brand Architecture

      Brand architecture is a strategic framework that helps companies structure and manage their brands within a portfolio.

      It allows companies to align each product’s brand strategy and positioning with the market, even when catering to different target audiences.

      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 sub-brands, such as FedX (FedEx Express, FedEx Ground, FedEx Freight, etc.).
      • Endorsed brand architecture: sub-brands are associated with the corporate brand but retain a separate identity, such as Marriott International (Marriott, Sheraton, Ritz-Carlton by Marriott, etc.).
      • Freestanding brand architecture (house of brands): Each brand has a separate identity and is not visibly connected to the umbrella brand, such as Procter & Gamble (Pampers, Gillette, Ariel, etc.).

      Brand Asset

      Brand assets are all the elements that represent a brand and communicate its distinctiveness to the public.

      These assets include tangible elements like the logo and website and intangible elements such as the brand story and values.

      Combined, these brand assets shape the brand’s unique identity.

      Further reading: Learn how to create distinctive brand assets or get inspired by my 100 brand asset examples.

      Brand Associations

      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

      Brand awareness refers to the extent to which consumers are familiar with and recognise a particular brand. It describes the level of recognition and recall that a brand enjoys among its target audience.

      Brand Collateral

      Brand collateral refers to the materials used to represent and promote a company and its products or services.

      This might include business cards, brochures, leaflets, catalogues, landing pages, banner advertisements, packaging and many more.

      This article covers everything you need to know about brand collateral, including examples aligned with the customer journey.

      Brand Colours

      Brand colours are a company’s specific hues that consistently represent its brand identity across various materials and platforms. 

      Brand colours play a role in brand recognition and differentiation, helping buyers associate certain shades with a particular brand.

      Brand Consistency

      Brand consistency means maintaining a uniform and recognisable identity across all communication channels and brand touchpoints.

      This means maintaining coherence in visual elements, messaging, and brand values, regardless of the platform or medium used.

      Brand Culture

      Brand culture encompasses the values and beliefs that guide a brand’s behaviour and interactions with employees, customers, and other stakeholders.

      Brand culture is the foundation for corporate culture and influences the overall brand perception, inside and outside the company.

      Further reading: Check out my in-depth article on brand culture.

      Brand Differentiation

      Brand differentiation is the process by which a brand sets itself apart from its competitors by emphasising its strengths, values, and/or unique selling points.

      Differentiation can be achieved in many ways, such as through outstanding product features, unique pricing, high quality, or excellent customer service.

      Effective brand positioning often relies on clear differentiation. A brand must first identify its unique attributes (differentiation) and then communicate these effectively to occupy a specific place in the market (positioning).

      Brand Equity

      Brand equity is the added value of a brand. It refers to the premium people are willing to pay to buy a product or service of a particular brand compared to a similar generic one.

      Brand equity is a set of assets or liabilities in the form of brand visibility, brand associations and customer loyalty that add or subtract from the value of a current or potential product or service driven by the brand.

      Brand Essence

      The brand essence is the central idea summarising the substance of a brand.

      Often, the brand’s essence is expressed in less than three words, such as “safety” (Volvo) or “spreading ideas” (TEDx).

      Brand Experience

      The brand experience is the sum of all interactions a person may have with a brand.

      Some of these experiences can be deliberately influenced by the brand, 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.

      Brand Extension

      A brand extension uses the existing brand name to introduce a new product or service or enter a new market segment.

      This strategy utilises the equity and recognition associated with the established brand to increase the success of the new offering.

      One example is Dyson, which successfully expanded from vacuum cleaners to hair dryers, building on its already-established brand equity.

      Brand Identity

      Brand identity includes all elements created to express an organization’s unique personality. It plays a vital role in differentiating the company from its competitors.

      The brand identity comprises visual, verbal and other elements (auditory, tactile, etc.).

      Brand identity is also referred to as corporate identity or CI.

      Brand Image

      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 and the quality of its products and services.

      Brand Launch

      Brand launch refers to the process of introducing a new brand to the public for the first time.

      Making a solid first impression is critical during this phase. It helps establish a position in consumers’ minds, leveraging the primacy effect to create a positive and memorable impact.

      Brand Loyalty

      Brand loyalty refers to consumers’ tendency to remain devoted to a particular brand over an extended period. It is characterised by a strong commitment and attachment to the brand, often resulting in repeat purchases and positive word-of-mouth recommendations.

      Some brands, like Johnny Cupcakes, have such loyal customers that they form a tribe.

      Brand Management

      Brand management means effectively overseeing a brand and consistently conveying its message, values and identity.

      It also considers current market trends and customer preferences to adapt the brand accordingly.

      The aim is to build a solid and successful brand and maintain it over the long term.

      Brand Messaging

      Brand messaging refers to the verbal communication strategy used by a company to convey its brand identity, values, and offer to its audience.

      It encompasses the language, tone, and content of various marketing materials, advertising campaigns, and other communication channels.

      Brand messaging aims to resonate with the target audience, evoke emotions, and communicate the brand’s unique selling points clearly and consistently.

      Brand Mission

      The brand mission describes the overarching purpose—or fundamental goal—a brand tries to achieve.

      It defines why the brand exists and how it wants to contribute to its customer’s lives, society or the world as a whole.

      Brand Name

      A brand name is a unique identifier representing a company, product, or service in the marketplace. It is the name consumers recognise and attribute to a particular brand.

      A good brand name should be succinct and easy to remember, enabling strong brand recognition and association.

      Further reading: Learn step-by-step how to create a strong brand name.

      Brand Parity

      Brand parity is when consumers perceive little to no meaningful difference between competing brands in a particular product category.

      In other words, brands are considered equal or interchangeable in the eyes of consumers, leading them to base their purchasing decisions primarily on factors such as price, convenience, or availability rather than brand differentiation.

      Brand Perception

      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

      Brand personality refers to the human-like traits and characteristics attributed to a brand, such as being friendly, adventurous, or reliable.

      These traits are used to create a distinct identity and establish a connection with consumers.

      Brand personality is communicated through various elements, including visual identity, messaging, tone of voice, and customer interactions.

      Brand Pillars

      Brand pillars are the fundamental principles on which a brand is built. They represent the core values, beliefs, and attributes that differentiate it from other brands.

      Typically, a brand has three to five Brand Pillars that serve as the foundation for its brand communications.

      For example, Firefox’s Brand Pillars are:

      • Non-Profit
      • Track Record
      • Empowering Innovation
      • Community Driven
      • Challenger Spirit

      Brand Platform

      A brand platform is a strategic framework that outlines the fundamental elements of a brand’s identity, positioning, and messaging.

      It serves as a blueprint for how the brand communicates and interacts with its target audience in the long term.

      A typical brand platform includes the following elements:

      • Vision, Mission and Values.
      • Target audience
      • Positioning
      • Brand pillars
      • Brand personality
      • Brand voice

      Brand Positioning

      Brand positioning refers to a brand’s strategic placement in people’s minds relative to its competitors.

      For example, Volvo stands for safety, Mercedes for reliable luxury, and Tesla for sustainable status symbols.

      The act of designing the company’s offering and image to occupy a distinctive place in the mind of the target market.

      Further reading: Check out this article that walks you through 18 brand positioning strategies and examples.

      Brand Promise

      A brand promise clearly states the specific benefits and experiences customers can expect from a brand.

      For example, FedEx’s brand promise is to deliver parcels overnight.

      Brand Recognition

      Brand recognition refers to our ability to recognise and distinguish a brand based on visual, verbal or other sensory cues such as its logo, slogan, packaging or jingle.

      Brand Reputation

      Brand reputation is the collective perception of a brand by its customers, employees, investors and other stakeholders.

      Brand Salience

      Brand salience is the degree to which a brand comes to mind and is recalled by consumers when purchasing within a particular category.

      Brand Storytelling

      Brand storytelling is the art of using narrative techniques to communicate a brand’s message, differences, values, and identity.

      Besides creating compelling and inspiring stories, brand storytelling fosters an emotional connection and a sense of shared identity between the brand and its audience.

      Further reading: Here’s how you can leverage brand storytelling in your organisation.

      Brand Strategy

      Brand strategy is a long-term plan developed by a company to build and manage its brand and achieve its business goals.

      The brand strategy includes elements such as brand positioning, messaging, target audience identification, competitive analysis and marketing tactics.

      A well-defined brand strategy guides all aspects of brand development and communication, ensuring consistency and coherence in how the brand is perceived by consumers.

      It serves as a roadmap for decisions related to product development, marketing campaigns, and overall brand management. The ultimate goal is to create value, build customer loyalty, and drive sales.

      You will probably like my article on brand strategy, where I share an insight into my process.

      Brand Style Guide

      A brand style guide, also known as brand guidelines or manual, is a comprehensive document that outlines a brand’s visual and verbal identity.

      It serves as a reference for ensuring consistency in the brand’s presentation across various channels and touchpoints.

      A typical brand style guide includes specifications for logo usage, colour palette, typography, imagery, tone of voice, and other brand assets.

      It also provides guidance on how these elements are applied in different contexts, such as print materials, digital platforms, advertising, and packaging.

      Here, you can find out how to create useful brand guidelines for your company.

      Brand Touchpoint

      Brand touchpoints are all the points of interaction or contact between a consumer and a brand throughout the customer journey.

      These touchpoints can occur through various channels, such as websites, social media, physical stores, customer service interactions, advertisements, packaging, and product usage.

      Each touchpoint allows the brand to influence the consumer’s perception and experience.

      Find out more about brand touchpoints, here.

      Brand Typography

      Brand typography refers to the specific typefaces or fonts representing a brand’s identity across various communication channels and touchpoints.

      A well-defined typography system typically includes primary and secondary typefaces and guidelines for font styles, weights, sizes, and spacing.

      Here you find everything you need to know about choosing brand fonts. Or, you can read my answers to the most common questions on brand typography, here.

      Brand Values

      Brand values are the fundamental beliefs that shape a company’s identity and guide its actions.

      Brand values define the principles and ideals that shape the brand’s culture, behaviour, and relationships.

      They serve as a compass for decision-making and are the foundation for building trust and loyalty with customers and employees.

      I’ve put compiled 15 brand core values examples from real company’s for you in this article.

      Brand Vision

      A brand’s vision is an inspiring and forward-looking concept that articulates its long-term goals and aspirations.

      A vision statement might sound like this: “A world in which … [something is different].”.

      Brand Voice

      Brand voice refers to the unique personality, tone, and style of communication that a brand uses to engage with its audience across various channels and touchpoints. 

      It represents the brand’s values, character, and identity, dictating how it speaks and interacts with its customers.

      Elements such as word choice, sentence structure, rhythm, and emotional resonance contribute to crafting a consistent brand voice.

      Further reading: Learn how to create a distinctive brand voice in 6 steps.

      Branding

      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. These include tangible elements such as the logo and brand voice and intangible elements such as the mission, values or brand storytelling.

      Branding aims to create a unique identity for the brand that people will recognise and connect with.

      Further reading: In this article, I explain the best time for branding and why there is no one-size-fits-all answer. And here is a deep dive into branding.

      Employer Branding

      Employer branding shapes a company’s reputation as an employer. The aim is to attract and retain top talent.

      Further reading: Here, you can find out how to build a strong employer brand.

      Co-Branding

      Co-branding is a strategic partnership in which two or more brands with similar values jointly develop a product, service or experience.

      This collaboration aims to leverage each other’s strengths and advantages to create a mutually beneficial partnership.

      Further reading: Understand Co-branding, including its types, benefits, risks, and examples.

      Logo

      A logo is a graphic symbol consisting of typography, an image, a shape or a combination thereof. 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.

      A logo is not communication. A logo is identification.

      Further reading: This article teaches you everything you need to know about logo file formats.

      Masterbrand

      A master brand is a primary or overarching brand that contains all a company’s products, services, and sub-brands. It serves as an umbrella for all other brands and offers.

      Sometimes, the master brand can be combined with sub-brands or other identifiers to differentiate specific products or models. For example, “Audi A3” or “Virgin Hotels” are examples.

      Rebranding

      Rebranding is when 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 to or target new markets.

      Tagline

      A tagline is a short phrase that represents a brand and conveys its identity.

      It can become so memorable that people immediately recognise the associated company, even when the brand name isn’t present.

      “Think different”. “Just do it”. “I’m Lovin’ It”. You probably know what I’m talking about …

      Further reading: You will probably find my in-depth article about taglines, including 50+ real-world examples helpful. Or you may like to learn the 5 ways a tagline can help your brand.

      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 other visual features.

      They are 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, ensuring consistent and uniform language across all channels.

      That’s a wrap.

      I hope you found this brand glossary helpful for understanding the subtle differences between various branding terms. If you have suggestions or questions, I’d love to hear from you.

      If you need help with your branding, don’t hesitate to get in touch.

      If you want to learn more about branding, you might like my curated list of branding resources.

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      Nine Blaess

      Hello, I’m Nine. I blend strategy and design to craft engaging brand identities and websites that celebrate the uniqueness of each business.

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