Brand dictionary: All the important elements and words
Familiarize yourself with all the important brand-related words and phrases you’ll hear as you get more involved with brand projects.
CMOs expect to increase their investment in brand-building by 11.8% over the next year, according to 2022 research by The CMO Survey. As companies invest more in their brands, more people in the company will likely get involved in brand-building activities.
As more people across your business interact with your brand, they’ll hear lots of brand-related terms they might not fully understand. Whether you’re an experienced brand manager brushing up on the latest terminology, a marketer keen to learn more, or an employee who wants to get involved in brand-related projects, this dictionary is a helpful resource to boost your knowledge.
A brand ambassador is someone who loves your company or products and actively promotes them with their family, friends, and social media networks. Brand ambassadors can come in many forms. Official brand ambassadors promote businesses for their careers. But happy employees can also become ambassadors for your employer brand, and loyal customers can share their love for your products by word of mouth.
Brand architecture is the organizational structure of different sub-brands within a company’s portfolio. It defines the relationships between each brand to help everyone in your team (and other key stakeholders) understand your different product offerings.
Brand assets are all the completed files and documents your team uses in their work. They use your brand elements (like logo, typography, color palette, and messaging) as part of the design, so it’s easy to recognize the company that has produced them. For example, images to accompany social media posts, visuals for marketing campaigns, branded slide decks, or email signatures.
Brand awareness is how easily your customers recognize your products, services, and events by your brand name, logo, color scheme, or tagline. The quicker they can connect the dots, the higher your level of brand awareness is.
Brand building is the long-term process of developing and investing in your company’s identity and public perception. It helps to increase awareness of your company’s values and products by presenting a consistent brand identity to the market. It involves defining your visual identity, as well as its mission and values – it’s not just the way your brand looks.
Brand consistency involves communicating and representing your company in the same way across multiple channels, campaigns, and interactions. It is an important method of building brand awareness and recognition. Companies should aim for a high level of brand consistency across each department, as that will mean all their employees are using the same brand assets, materials, and voice to communicate their brand to customers.
Brand differentiation is a key process to successful branding. It enables brands to stand out among their competitors and build a loyal fanbase. Differentiation can be achieved in a few different ways, like product features, product price points, convenience, unique perks for customers, and overall customer experiences.
Brand elements are the different visual parts that make up your brand. This includes your logo, color palette, icons, fonts, and images. Designers (and other team members) will use these elements when creating different brand assets.
Brand equity is the value customers place on your particular company, products, and services based on their perceptions of its quality. Brand equity isn’t based on your company’s financial value but rather on how valuable customers believe it to be. If you have high levels of brand equity, you can charge more for your products than competitors – even if your products are similar. This is because customers believe your particular products are better, and your brand is worth more to them.
Brand guidelines are the rules and instructions for bringing your brand identity to life, including how it should look and sound. They commonly include your brand’s mission statement, values, logos, fonts, color palettes, visual styles, and core messaging. The most effective brand guidelines also explain how to use these visual and written elements in your work.
Your brand identity is the collection of all recognizable parts that embody your brand – from your color scheme and tonality to your vision, mission, and values. Anything and everything that gives your brand its unique personality and style is part of your brand identity.
Brand image is the overall perception people have of your brand. Brand image is determined by your audience. You can’t define your brand image; you only influence it through the way you interact with your customers and the market.
Brand loyalty is the tendency for customers to repeatedly buy products from a particular company (despite having other options) because they’ve had good experiences with your brand. In some cases, they may even choose to continue paying more for a specific product or service simply because they trust and like you better than your competitors.
Brand management is how you keep your campaigns, assets, products, collateral, and customer interactions on-brand. Generally, brand management is handled by an individual or small team. They guide the use of brand assets, approve projects, and enable everyone to be part of developing and co-creating the brand going forward.
Brand management software
Brand management software is a tool you can use to keep all your brand elements, assets, and guidelines in one place, to make it easier to manage your brand. It creates a centralized home for everything related to your brand, so employees can easily create their own brand assets to use in their work. Frontify is an example of brand management software.
A brand manager is a person who is responsible for developing your brand strategy and leading brand-related projects in your company. They focus on increasing internal brand engagement and improving brand consistency so that you present a cohesive, recognizable brand to your customers and the wider market.
Your brand message is a concise statement that communicates your values and positioning to your target audience. Many companies use their brand message as their tagline. For example, Nike’s “Just Do It” or Frontify’s “Where Brands Live.”
Brand owners are the people within your company who are engaged with your brand and work hard to communicate its values and achieve consistency when representing the brand externally. Often, marketing teams are the earliest brand owners in companies, but anyone from any department can be a brand owner. While brand manager is an official job role within the company, brand owners are an unofficial role. Leading brands like Nike or Amazon empower everyone in the business to be brand owners, but they also employ a number of dedicated brand managers.
Brand ownership is the shared responsibility of building, defining, developing, and maintaining your brand. It shouldn’t be a responsibility for just one person or team (like your CEO or marketing department). Instead, companies should work to develop a sense of brand ownership across every department, to help all their employees become brand owners.
Positioning is the distinct way you choose to set your brand apart from your competitors. It happens by way of the differentiation process, which includes market research and competitor research to determine what factor makes your product (or brand) unique. That factor then becomes a core tenet of your branding. For example, Apple sets itself apart from competitors by positioning itself as a premium brand. When you walk into an Apple store, your experience is completely different from shopping for a laptop or cell phone elsewhere. And even its support experience feels premium – you can book online, go into a store, and meet a real person to talk through your tech troubles.
Brand recognition refers to whether your customers and other consumers can identify a particular brand. It’s an advanced level of brand awareness, as customers are familiar enough with your products and services to recognize your advertising, social media posts, or product packaging on retail shelves.
Brand strategy is the end-to-end process of developing your brand. It involves deep research (market, customer, and competitor), positioning, and the development of every brand element, including your visual identity, messaging, values, and more. Your strategy should help you figure out exactly what your brand should stand for, look like, sound like, and act like. Then, it should help you understand how to showcase it in various mediums so you can increase your overall brand equity.
Brand values are the principles that your brand rests on. They define what you stand for in your company culture and what you uphold with your customer base. If used correctly, your brand values can also guide the creation and maintenance of your brand by giving you a set of principles to base business decisions on.
Brand voice is a part of your brand identity. It includes the words you use (or don’t use), your communication style, and how your brand sounds. You should document your brand voice in your brand guidelines alongside the visual elements of your brand. Some companies include word lists in their guidelines as practical examples to help their teams adopt the brand voice in their work. Voice is how you express your brand’s tone and personality and is one way to communicate your brand’s values to customers.
Co-branding combines branding and marketing strategy. It occurs when two or more brands collaborate on a shared solution for their customers. Done right, it meets the needs of both brands’ audiences and increases their customer base by getting their product in front of new leads and current customers in new, fresh ways.
Customer brand engagement
Customer brand engagement is the relationship companies develop with their existing and potential customers based on all their interactions and experiences with the brand across different channels and touchpoints. It helps to increase brand awareness and loyalty, as engaged customers are more aware of your brand and more likely to become repeat customers.
Digital asset management
A digital asset management system (DAM) is a centralized system for storing, managing, and organizing all your branded digital assets. In a DAM, you can organize your brand assets into libraries for different file types, projects, or campaigns. DAMs make it easy for people in all departments to find and use your brand assets because they can search for the assets they need in one place.
Your employer brand is your company’s reputation as a place to work. It’s the perception your employees and job applicants have of your company based on their experience working with you, the hiring process, and the information you share publicly.
Internal brand engagement
Internal brand engagement is the sense of attachment employees, investors, and other stakeholders have with a brand. It’s also called employee brand engagement because it helps your team connect with their work, your mission, and each other through shared values and understanding of how their roles contribute to building the brand.
Internal branding is the work you do to engage employees with your brand and help them understand the purpose and value of building a strong, consistent brand. It involves educating employees about how their role contributes to people’s perceptions of your brand and how and when to use various brand assets.
Just like large corporations and SMBs brand their businesses, people can also brand themselves. People use their personal brand to position themselves as experts and become recognized in their field.
Rebranding allows you to refocus and update your existing brand, to bring it in-line with your current values. It gives you a “new wardrobe” for expressing your brand identity, for example with new colors, an updated mission statement, or a revised logo that better aligns with your current goals, business model, and customer base.
Rebranding isn’t a one-and-done activity, though. Businesses can continue to rebrand as they grow and as times change. Remember: Brands are always in motion, and even though doing a major brand overhaul can be good from time to time, making continuous iterations to your brand is definitely preferable.
A sub-brand is a brand within a brand. Global companies often have one main brand but have several smaller brands that sit within their portfolio. You may have sub-brands in different global regions or countries or for different products. For example, Sprite, Innocent, and Fanta are all sub-brands of The Coca-Cola Company.
Now you speak the language. Ready to become a brand builder?
Learning these brand-related terms is a good first step in developing your branding expertise and strengthening your company’s brand.
Now, discover how each department has its own part to play in your company’s brand development and start building a brand toolkit to set you on the path to success.