Brand Dictionary: All the Important Elements & Words
There's a lot of information out there on branding. Luckily, we've got a brand dictionary to help you navigate it.
While branding can be an exciting and illuminating experience, it’s easy to get overwhelmed by the sheer amount of knowledge out there on the subject. If you’re not careful, you can wind up dropping hours (or even days) on books, blogs, and videos to understand everything.
And even then, you can walk away with more questions than answers if you keep running into terms you’re unfamiliar with. (Let’s be honest, that’s the reason you landed on this blog post in the first place.) So to make things a little easier for you, we’ve put together a master list of brand terms to help you get started. Make sure you pin this one for later.
The Ultimate Brand Dictionary
A brand ambassador is a person who loves your brand and actively promotes it with their family, friends, and social media networks. There are official brand ambassadors out there who promote businesses for their careers. But brand ambassadors can come in many forms.
Happy employees can become brand ambassadors for your employer brand and loyal customers can share their love for your products by word-of-mouth. In any case, having a brand ambassador (or better yet, a community of brand ambassadors) can drastically improve your overall brand perception.
Your brand awareness is how easily your customers recognize your products, services, and events by your brand name or logo. The quicker they can connect the dots, the higher your level of brand awareness is.
Brands like Coca-Cola, Disney, Apple, and Amazon are among some of the most well-known brands out there, today. When you hear one of their names, you instantly know what they offer. (You likely know what their logo looks like too.) The reason for that is they’ve invested a lot of time and effort into building brand awareness with their audience.
A brand experience is about the thoughts and feelings you give your customers. Not unlike customer experience, your brand experience is the sum total of all interactions you have with a given customer.
But brand experience does differ from customer experience in one major way: It begins long before your customers ever become leads. The brand experience starts the moment a person has their first brush with your brand. It might be a name drop at a party or a product they see a friend promoting in their Instagram Stories. But even then, every interaction (direct or indirect), counts.
Your brand identity is the collection of all elements that define your brand – from your color scheme and tonality to your vision, mission and values and everything in between. Anything and everything that gives your brand its unique personality and style is included in your brand identity.
Though it’s often confused for your brand identity, brand image is the overall perception that people have of your brand. Naturally, this includes your leads, customers, job seekers, employees, external partners, and agencies. At the same time, it can also include groups like non-profits and news reporters too.
One key thing that people often forget about a brand image is that it’s determined by your audience. You can only influence it through the way you interact with your customers.
Simply put, brand loyalty is the tendency for your customers to repeatedly buy products from you (despite having other options out there) 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 loyalty is one of those results that businesses actively strive for, as it yields a greater customer lifetime value.
When you’re building a brand, it’s important to have a plan in place for designing, writing, and developing assets – but also how you expect your employees to act on your brand values, vision, and mission when in contact with customers, job seekers, or other prospects. Brand guidelines help you do that, by offering a detailed record of your established rules for designs, content, products, digital assets, and interactions with customers.
Your brand guidelines tell you exactly which colors should be used in your new YouTube ad, what messaging should be included in your newest marketing campaign, what images can be included in your website, how to greet customers in your store, how you handle HR operations, and lots more. By using them, your teams can work faster and keep your brand consistent across every channel.
Brand messaging is one of the most important aspects of your brand. It anchors your leads and customers in a single idea, by telling them what your core value proposition is.
Brand messaging isn’t as clear cut as it might appear, though. While it all ties back to your core value proposition, it doesn’t have to be said in the same ways every time. In fact, it’s implied more than it’s actually said, as businesses share the many ways they do deliver on this promise, rather than repeating the short phrase over and over again.
Brand design is the process by which the visual aspects of a brand are created. It includes mood board creation, brand color selection, typography and pattern selection, logo design, and lots more.
Just like large corporations and SMBs brand their businesses, people can also brand themselves. Typically, you’ll see this in one of two places: with business professionals branding themselves to improve the public’s perception of them OR by entrepreneurs, celebrities, pro athletes, and the like use it as a tool to brand their one-person business.
However, there are other ways that personal branding is used. Even employees are starting to jump on the personal branding bandwagon – especially people in management, such as CEOs, leading the direction their company’s brand are heading from the front.
Whether you’ve put the work in to build a brand or not, you have one. Rebranding allows you to scrap your existing branding and completely start over by creating a brand that matches 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.
Co-branding is technically a combination of branding and marketing strategy. It occurs when two or more brands come together to 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.
There have been loads of co-branding partnerships over the years. Some of the most well known include the GoPro + Red Bull collaboration, the Apple + Nike collaboration, and the Uber + Spotify collaboration.
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.
Like traditional branding, digital branding is all about creating a powerful image for your business. But with digital branding, the focus is the online world. It’s creating digital spaces (like websites, social media profiles, etc.), and delivering branded experiences across every digital interaction. This includes everything from live chat conversations to Google ads and YouTube videos.
Brand equity is the value that a certain brand possesses by virtue of its name, not its products. It’s determined by the overall perception that customers have about your brand – as the higher it is, the more money they’re willing to spend on your products and services.
Think about it this way, when you go to the grocery store you’ll nearly always see name-brand products and generic brands side-by-side. And in a lot of cases, the products are identical or nearly identical. Yet, the name-brand product has a higher price tag than the generic product. Why? Because customers are willing to pay more for the brand name. It might be because they came across it on television or saw an ad on the internet, but the bottom line is: Brand equity is all about what customers think a brand (and its products) are worth.
Brand management is the process you use to keep your campaigns, assets, products, collateral, and customer interactions on-brand after you’ve successfully branded your business. Generally, brand management is handled by an individual or small team that guides the use of brand assets, approves projects before they’re rolled out, and enables the entirety of the organization to be part of developing and co-creating the brand going forward. The purpose of brand management is to make sure the brand maintains (and improves) its standing with customers by keeping all interactions and touchpoints consistent.
Positioning is the distinct way you choose to set your brand apart from your competitors’. It happens by way of the differentiation process. You conduct market research, conduct competitor research, determine what factor makes your product (or brand) unique, and adopt that differentiating factor as a core tenant of your branding.
Positioning also gives you the ability to build a strong fanbase, by catering to the niche interests of your audience.
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 lots more. The purpose of brand strategy is to help you figure out exactly what your brand should stand for, look like, sound like, and act like while showing you how to showcase it in various mediums so you can increase your overall brand equity.
As one of the core, foundational elements of your brand, brand values are the principles that your brand rests on. They define what you stand for in your company culture and uphold with your customer base. Ultimately, 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 your business decisions on.
Just like most topics out there, branding comes with its own set of jargon and definitions. And for those who are just learning the ropes, it can be difficult to grasp it all. (Especially since “brand” comes at the beginning of most of them.) Having a brand dictionary or brand glossary on hand to help you navigate the world of branding, can make brand building and maintenance a lot easier, though. So, go ahead and pin this one to your favorites folder or bookmarks bar. You’ll thank yourself later.