Brand Terms Defined – At Least 25 Of Them
Your audience, or your target market, is the group of people that your business is engaged with. Also, it is the group of people that you are attempting to persuade to purchase your product/service. Your audience is the group of people that are able and willing to purchase your product/service. Both must be true for your audience to be the ideal market for your business to engage with.
Your brand, in my own words, “Is the personality of your business. It is the thoughts and feelings that are left with someone after they have had an interaction with your company. It is your business’ imprint on the heart of a person.” More academically, your brand is the perception that a consumer or group of consumers have about your overall business. Your brand is more than just your logo or tagline; it is the comprehensive set of feelings and beliefs that a consumer has about your company.
Brand awareness is a straightforward term, I think. It is essentially how aware consumers are of your business and its offerings. Do they recognize your business’ name? Do they know what kind of products/services you offer? Have they seen your advertisements? Where do they place you on a mental list of competing brands? These are a couple of questions to consider when determining your business’ brand awareness.
As my partner Matt would say, your brand image is your business’ “visual identity system.” A brand image is how your company looks to potential consumers. This includes your logo, any icons you might have, your color palette, and typography. Your brand image can (and should) also be represented on any piece of marketing collateral that your business has (i.e. business cards, website, postcards, etc.) Pro tip: make sure your brand image is consistent across all marketing channels. You’ll thank me later.
This term is straight-forward but I would define it as, “The degree to which a consumer trusts your brand over a competing brand.” For example, I have brand loyalty to Gain. I don’t know why — maybe it’s because I grew up with it and that’s what my mom always bought. You’ll never, ever catch me purchasing a Tide product. Why? Simply because my loyalties lie with Gain. They always have and they always will. You want to evoke this same kind of loyalty to your brand in your target audience. Make them love your brand so much that they couldn’t possibly dream of doing business with a competing brand. That is brand loyalty.
Brand standards are in the same vein as your brand image. Essentially, brand standards are your business’ agreed upon way that it communicates its brand image via multiple platforms. This again includes which colors you use, which colors you don’t use, logo lockups, mood boards, typesetting and typography, and all the other fun branding stuff. I’ve also heard brand standards referred to as a “style guide” or “brand toolkit”. It doesn’t matter — whatever works for you and your tribe. The point is, agree upon some standards for your brand and how it will be communicated with your team and document it.
This, along with the below term on brand strategy, is probably one of my favorite brand terms. Your brand story really isn’t your brand story at all — it’s your customer’s story. Your brand is simply along for the ride as a trusted guide. We like to position the customer as the “hero” of the brand story and position the brand as the “guide”. We’ve seen much more receptive audiences as a result. To put it simply though, a brand story is a character arc that your ideal customer embarks on. There’s a problem, a solution, and a resolution. For more info on our brand story framework and process, book a Brand Story Workshop with us here.
Your brand strategy is the plan and its subsequent parts that will lead your brand to be perceived how you want it to be perceived. For example, perhaps you really want your brand to resonate with those of Gen Z. Facebook wouldn’t be a channel that you would concentrate heavily on then. Instead, your brand would be more prominent on Instagram and maybe even find some unique ways to show up in the game Fortnite. The brand strategy is how you will get your brand in front of the target audience and accomplish your business goals at the same time. Simple in theory, difficult in execution.
Why did I include copywriting in an article on brand terms? Because the two often go together (branding and copywriting). Brands have messages that they look to communicate to a target audience. Often, this involves the written word. We see this pretty frequently in advertising. There is typically a visual aspect to the ad, a call to action, and some copy. As Donald Miller says in his book Building A StoryBrand, “People buy things after reading words.” This is the purpose of copywriting in the context of brand. Communicate the brand message in a persuasive way so that the person reading takes action.
Elevator Pitch (One-Liner)
An elevator pitch or one-liner is a succinct and compelling summary of your business’ value proposition. For example, 8-bit’s one-liner is “We provide expert brand and marketing support to small business owners and entrepreneurs, who don’t have the time or knowledge to do it themselves, so they can successfully run their business as it grows.” The key to crafting a compelling one-liner is to focus on your ideal customers’ pain points. People buy from you because you provide a solution to their problem. Plain and simple.
Marty Neumeier, in his book The Brand Gap, differentiates between an icon and a logo. We would agree with his differentiation. An icon is a “visual symbol of a brand; a trademark,” Neumeier says in his book. Whereas a logo is “an abbreviation for logotype, which is a distinctive typeface or lettering style used to represent a brand name.” So, an icon is a visual representation of a brand. Like the Starbucks siren or the McDonald’s golden arches.
Impressions are an advertising metric and one that you’ll want to keep an eye on if you’re trying to increase your brand awareness. Simply put, impressions “are the number of times your [brand message] is displayed”. Impressions are distinctly different from “reach” in that one consumer could see your ad three times and the ad metrics would only count one consumer reached but three impressions. Depending on your advertising goals, impressions or reach could be the metric to pay attention to. We’ll talk a little bit about reach later but keep impressions in mind if you’re trying to expose your target audience to your brand message quickly.
As stated earlier, a logo is often mistaken for a trademark when it’s really a distinct typeface or lettering style that’s used to represent a brand name. For example, our 8-bit icon is our digital t-rex, but our logo is our Rex alongside our brand name “8-bit Rex”. Confusing, I know. Just keep this in mind — your brand is more than your logo! Your logo is simply one of the ways in which you represent your brand to the marketplace.
The word media comes from the Latin root word “medius” literally meaning “the middle”. So, the way I think of the media is that it’s the vehicle for getting your brand message to your target audience. It is the medium. So, whether that be social, digital, print, etc., you will always need a media platform to deliver your brand message to people. Think carefully about what media your target audience uses, and which media would best suit the message you have to deliver to them. Sometimes the chosen media can make or break a campaign. Think strategically about media placements!
According to 99designs, “A mood board is like a collage containing a variety of images, text, and other objects that define your brand and communicate your brand identity. It can even work as a guide in developing a business project, such as a website.” So, your mood board is a collage of images that represent your brand identity. Typically, people create mood boards to communicate the feelings they want to be associated with their brand (that’s why it’s called a mood board) and for inspirational purposes. A mood board is also a piece of the brand standards that you’d typically set for your business. So, it can also be used to get and keep everyone on the same page.
Perception is someone’s mental image of something. What do people think of when they think of your brand? What words, pictures, feelings, or aesthetics does their mind conjure up? Do people perceive your brand as high-quality? Or do they perceive it as affordable? One way you can determine people’s perception of your brand is to ask them to describe your brand using only adjectives. Those adjectives will then reveal how your brand is perceived in the mind of the consumer.
Positioning is how you choose to place your brand in the market relative to the competition. For example, will your brand be positioned as a high-quality brand like Whole Foods? Or will it be positioned as an affordable brand such as Walmart? Positioning is important because it often dictates the approach to the market the brand will take (i.e. what types of marketing channels it uses, what messages it employs, etc.). A high-quality brand will oftentimes promote itself in high-quality magazines because the type of audience it wants to attract reads those magazines. Michael Porter has much to say on the topic of strategic positioning. I highly encourage you to read his stuff on the topic.
Another word for prototype could be Minimum Viable Product (MVP). Essentially, it is the rough draft of a product or deliverable before the final draft is agreed upon and created. We often use the term “prototype” to refer to the first iteration of a website that we’ve created for a client. Creating a prototype before moving onto the final product iteration is important because you can get the prototype in the hands of stakeholders and users and do some actual user testing. Then you can incorporate their valuable feedback into the final iteration of the design. It’s better to take time prototyping then to jump into a final iteration and realize there are still some kinks to work out with the final design.
Reach, like we briefly talked about earlier, is an advertising metric like impressions. However, the difference is that reach is based on how many consumers have seen your content, whereas impressions are based on how many times your content was shown to consumers. So, it is possible to have a reach of 100 and 300 impressions for the same piece of content. That just means that 100 consumers have most likely seen your content 3 times (or some other combination). Reach and impressions are closely related, so, don’t feel bad if you get them confused starting off in advertising.
This is another one of my favorite terms because it is underutilized in the creative industry. Sometimes I feel like it’s my personal mission to instill the value of research into my team. But every good campaign, strategy, project, or whatever begins with solid research. Research is, essentially, the act of gathering and examining sources to determine relevant facts and information related to whatever it is that you’re doing (e.g. a campaign, a buyer person, a comprehensive marketing plan). There are two types of sources you can research: primary sources and secondary sources. I don’t have time to get into the difference between research sources but BBC does and they’ve covered the topic magnificently in this article here.
Another one of my favorite topics and practices is sales! Most people despise sales because they think of sales as sleazy and manipulative. However, I’d propose that sales is all about servanthood, offering relevant and helpful solutions, and listening to those you’re selling to. I lean heavily on the educational-consultation perspective of selling. Regardless, it’s important to have a sales strategy for your brand. Whether that’s through personal selling, social media, flyering, discounts, PPC, or whatever, you need to think through how you’re going to engage with consumers, entice them to buy, and deliver the product to them. These are all acts of selling. Book a free consult with us if you need some fresh sales strategies.
Segmentation is simply the act of breaking down a market into smaller portions based on similar characteristics (i.e. demographics, psychographics, etc.). To do this, you must first identify how many consumers are in your target market, then you identify a characteristic that you want to segment by and determine how many consumers within your target market have that characteristic. For example, say my target market is 1 million consumers and I want to segment the market by age. 250,000 consumers are between the ages of 18-34, 500,000 consumers are between the ages of 35-64, and 250,000 consumers are 65+. We’ve just segmented our target market by age! We can now segment the market further or do with the data what we will.
I came across this amazing definition for strategy that I’d like to share with you. Simply because many people confuse strategy with planning. While the two are similar, they are not one and the same. “A strategy is a framework for making decisions about how you will play the game of business,” according to Ann Latham. So, “posting once a week on Facebook” would be a plan while “only share valuable and informative content” would be a strategy. This took me a while to learn but a strategy is the framework for decision-making while tactics are the actual nuts and bolts of a plan. Read more about how strategy and tactics work together here.
A tagline is a business’ promise to a consumer or group of consumers. For example, “Save Money. Live Better.” Is Walmart’s tagline. They promise that, by shopping at their store, you’ll save money and live better as a result. A brand’s tagline is different from a one-liner in that a one-liner communicates a brand’s value to a consumer and a tagline communicates a brand’s promise to a consumer. Similar but different. Both, however, are crucial for a brand to communicate if it’s to win in the marketplace.
Unique Value/Selling Proposition
A unique value/selling proposition is the value that your brand creates or delivers to a consumer relative to its competition. Your brand’s UVP can be as succinct as your elevator pitch/one-liner, however, it needs to address how it is different from the competing brands in the marketplace. Is everyone else in your space focused on price? Then focus on differentiation and communicate the heck out of that. The summary that you draft speaking on your brand’s differentiation is your UVP. Yield it liberally.
Visual Identity System
Like a brand image, a Visual Identity System is a brand’s comprehensive set of standards that it adheres to in order to communicate visually. A logo, layout, photography, and icons would all fall under a brand’s Visual Identity System. For a comprehensive example, check out Toyota’s Visual Identity System. The company’s system breaks down basic rules for the brand’s visuals, extensions, and asset IDs for its stakeholders. Use it as a guide to get a jump start on your brand’s Visual Identity System.
A wordmark is a brand’s trademark minus its icon. Coca-Cola is an excellent example of a wordmark. The wordmark displays no icons or visual; it is simply the brand name written in Coke’s signature style font. Our 8-bit wordmark would be our brand name “8-bit Rex” minus our rex character. We often include our wordmark on documents or blog headers to ensure consistency with our brand.
And there you have it! At least 25 brand terms defined.