Traditionally this referred to mass media communication channels, including television, radio, print, low CPM digital banner ads and out-of-home media. These channels are useful for reaching large audiences to raise brand awareness and position an offering. ‘Line’ definitions are becoming more blurred as communications channels multiply and become multipurpose.
Names created by abbreviating two or more words, ideas or names. Either pronounced letter-by-letter or as a word. Examples include IBM (International Business Machines), H&M (Hennes & Mauritz), IKEA (Ingvar Kamprad Elmtaryd Agunnaryd), 3M (Minnesota Mining and Manufacturing). Acronyms often sound generic, are less memorable and require more investment to promulgate.
A strategy of associating a brand with charities, sport or entertainment events through sponsorships or partnerships to develop reach and create positive impressions among wider audiences.
The degree of recognition and understanding of a brand within a defined audience.
Traditionally, tightly targeted marketing activities that run outside mass media channels. Includes PR campaigns, direct marketing, promotions, events, sponsorship, and digital channels including social media and email. ‘Line’ definitions are becoming more blurred as communications channels multiply and become multipurpose.
For organisations, brand is synonymous with reputation. A strong brand is the equivalent to a strong reputation. Reputation is built in multiple dimensions, and is reflected in brand messages, images and other tangible associations.
A strategic exercise aimed at addressing an organisational issue through branding. Effective organisations align business strategy and brand strategy.
Also called brand refresh, brand revamp, rebrand, brand revitalisation.
Key people who promote a brand because they believe in it, or are paid to promote it, or both. These people typically have leadership qualities and are enthusiastic about what the brand and company stands for. They are a source of information and inspiration for other stakeholders, especially customers. Fostering relationships with brand ambassadors can also positively influence corporate culture. Also called brand champions, brand evangelists, brand influencers.
A group of twelve personality archetypes based on categories defined by Swiss psychiatrist Carl Jung: the ruler, the artist / creator, the caregiver, the innocent, the sage, the explorer, the outlaw, the magician, the hero, the lover, the jester, and the everyman. Building a consistent brand personality based on an archetype can help build trust in a brand because people are drawn to personalities with similar values and aspirations.
The hierarchical breakdown of how an organisation and its individual brands fit together. These are segmented into three types: 1. Branded house (a single brand appears on all products and services). 2. House of brands (sub-brands are presented to target audiences as nominally independent entities. 3. Hybrid (a combination of branded house and house of brands).
Elements that audiences associate with a brand ranging from but not limited to: the logo, colour palette, typography and image style. These all form the visual identity of the brand and shape perceptions of the brand. These work with the brand strategy and messaging framework to form a fully formed brand identity.
What people believe, feel and understand about a brand derived from their positive or negative experiences with its products or services.
Characteristics of a brand that inform how it is expressed to audiences. Some attributes are hygiene factors shared by all brands in the category. Other attributes aim to be unique to the brand to make it distinctive in the market.
A research initiative designed to obtain an understanding about the reality of a brand. It explores and identifies the brand's, and competitors, current positioning in the market. It typically covers strategy, strengths and weaknesses, unique buying propositions, statements in terms of mission, values and vision, as well as identifying cognitive gaps in the market that can be exploited. The knowledge acquired can inform new directions and pivotal change for the brand and its related offering.
The degree to which a defined audience can identify a brand, as well as their familiarity with its unique promise and other messaging.
An investigation into a brand intended to determine its current status across various dimensions. The process often involves a brand audit, interviews with key stakeholders, and various forms of quantitative and qualitative research.
The core idea a brand seeks to be associated with in the mind of an observer. This idea is developed through a brand building methodology.
The cash inflow based on brand alone. Often a challenge to calculate, but several formulas can be applied.
The intangible value of a brand relative to how recognisable it is, derived from aggregated stakeholder opinions.
Not to be confused with brand value, the economic worth of a brand.
Strategies and security measures applied to safeguard brand equity. Includes measures that reduce potential risks and/or liabilities from acts of counterfeit, theft, fraud, etc. If insufficiently protected, feelings and thoughts about the brand may be compromised, reducing brand value.
The core message of a brand, usually in a short, simple phrase of one to five words.
The impression engagement with a brand creates in the mind of a stakeholder. These vary from calculated and targeted experiences such as retail environments, advertisements, websites as well as products/services. Other experiences come from the uncontrolled; word of mouth through brand ambassadors or journalism. Brands become leaders in their fields by delivering consistent experiences that combine to form a clear, differentiated overall brand experience.
Applying an existing, usually successful, brand to a new offering. This can add positive equity to the new brand, but risks diluting the essence of the existing brand.
The practical role of the brand. For example, how a product, service or organisation might be described on a government form.
The dissonance created by misalignment of a brand's promise and reality. An effective brand strategy aligns what is promised with what is delivered.
A document that defines the fundamentals of the brand and details how it is to be applied to achieve long-term consistency. The guidelines are usually used to inform designers and other marketing professionals who may be new to the brand.
A corporate ranking of various brand assets according to a strategically defined order. Typically presented as an org chart, the brand hierarchy often aims to differentiate the individual sub-brands of a larger brand according to factors such as audience segment, market size, performance, public recognition and financial value. Example: Hershey’s has a hierarchy of sub-brands including Reese, Almond Joy, Jolly Rancher and Bubble Yum.
A brand identity is the totality of elements that identify and distinguish a brand in people’s minds. These elements include (but aren’t limited to) the logo, colours, typography, images, messages, nomenclature and even scent, sound, tone of voice and writing style.
What people perceive the brand to be. Brand building activities can help improve a brand’s image.
The sale of usage rights by a brand owner to a third party, often involving fee or royalties.
The degree of a individual's positive feelings towards a brand, and dedication to purchasing its products and/or services repeatedly, regardless of deficiencies, competitor actions, or changes in the environment.
The discipline of developing or maintaining a brand through planning, strategy, execution and metrics to achieve business objectives.
The role responsible for developing and executing a marketing plan for a branded product or service.
A concise document that serves as a framework for brand building by defining key messages. It explains the brand’s purpose, positioning, promise, personality and DNA. The brand model works by aligning the understanding of the brand owner and branding agency. Once approved, the brand model informs the messaging framework, brand design, website and brand guidelines.
The similarity of two or more brands in terms of perceived rank, status, quality and/or price in the eyes of the consumer.
A distinctive collection of human characteristics applied to a brand with the aim to produce a consistent experience that resonates with an audience. These traits align how a brand looks, speaks and conducts itself.
The locating of a brand among defined competitors and/or in people’s minds to ensure distinction, and relevance to stakeholders. The positioning includes real competitive differences as well as perceived differences that can be developed by brand builders. A strong positioning builds memory structures that help people recall and choose the brand.
A strong preference for one brand over another, typically demonstrated by purchasing habits.
The unique proposition/benefit/value the brand promises to deliver to its audiences. This statement asserts what people can expect from it. Fulfilling promises builds a stronger reputation for a brand, which in turn increases brand value. Also called a brand value proposition, or unique selling proposition/point.
A declaration of an organisation’s reason for being. It expresses why the brand matters and how it benefits the wider world. It communicates an organisation’s fundamental belief and goal that will inspire stakeholders. The stated purpose of a business should go beyond simply generating profit. Several studies reveal that purpose-led businesses outperform financially.
A brand alignment with an added focus on modernising an outdated corporate identity.
The degree to which a brand sticks out to be recognized among competitors and recalled by its intended audience.
A person whose role is to originate and develop a brand strategy to help an organisation achieve its goals. Strategists use research techniques and methodologies to generate insights that influence the creative execution of a brand and its communications.
The plan that defines what, when and how to communicate, to advance the operational strategy and objectives of an organisation, or the marketing of a commodity or service.
Any point where the customer comes into contact with the brand, offering an opportunity to influence their perception/behaviour. Examples include POS, help desks, websites, social media and advertising.
The process of estimating the total financial value of a brand based on various performance metrics. Factors include earnings, market share, and growth potential.
The net value of the cash flows that can be attributed to the brand dimension of an offering. An intangible asset of a business that helps to make up the difference between a company’s book value and market value.
Not to be confused with brand equity, the measurement of a brand’s intangible value.
The process of defining and expressing a brand through words, images and design to influence perception.
A consultant specialising in devising, designing and developing brands. Clients are typically businesses or organisations that seek a competitive advantage from branding but don’t maintain the specialist skills required in-house. Branding agencies also add value by bringing an outsider perspective to a venture.
Marketing term for the information cascade that occurs when people decide a product, service or organisation is worth talking about or interacting with.
The process of two or more brands endorsing a product or service. It usually occurs when the brands have similar values and goals, and can benefit from cooperating. Co-branding can help both companies increase their visibility and reach new audiences.
Names that didn’t previously exist before being created and defined by an individual or team. Examples include Coca-Cola, Google, meme, and the World Wide Web.
A system for representing colours consistently. A colour system such as RGB has a limited number of colours, while one such as CMKY has an infinite number of colours.
Names that combine two or more words or ideas. Examples include Microsoft (microcomputer + software), Netflix (net + flicks), Walmart (Walter + mart). Also called portmanteau words.
A digital application or platform that enables website content to be managed effectively. Wordpress is the most popular example.
The strategy of creating content relevant to a target audience’s interests in order to attract interest in a brand, with the ultimate hope of leading to a sale. Content marketing is typically associated with an inbound marketing strategy.
Text ready for publication or review. The term originated when a newspaper writer would pass a completed piece to the editor with the instruction to “copy” (reproduce) it.
The individual responsible for originating marketing messages.
The skills and knowledge that allows an organisation to create value for its stakeholders. These competencies vary, and can include activities such as product design, marketing, operations, and customer service. Areas not considered core competencies (which may include brand development) are often outsourced.
The recognition that a corporation has a wider effect on society, and its obligations to society go beyond minimum regulatory compliance and generating profits for shareholders. In many sectors, perceptions that a corporation is a good corporate citizen contributes to the value of its brand because it becomes a more attractive choice for like-minded customers and talent.
The recognisable public face of an organisation, which includes visual and other tangible elements that define its brand. The combination of name, logo, typeface, and colour palette, as well as the tone of its marketing materials form a unique corporate identity. A strong corporate identity contributes to a consistent and memorable brand experience for stakeholders.
An evolving approach to self-regulation of a business that aims to develop positive corporate citizenship. Includes internal initiatives that aim to reduce or eliminate practices that have negative social or environmental effects, and initiatives of a philanthropic, activist, or charitable nature. A company with strong positive CSR credentials is perceived as a good corporate citizen.
How much advertisers pay for every thousand ads displayed. (CPM stands for cost per mille – mille being Latin for thousand.)
The document that informs the creative team about the requirements, objectives and deliverables for a creative initiative. The Stepworks Creative Brief Engine is an interactive tool that streamlines the production of an effective creative brief.
In brand building, the process of ensuring a creative team’s output is aligned with a company’s brand identity, business strategy and tactical objectives.
Traits that describe a customer. This can cover demographics, interests, and spending habits. Knowing these characteristics can help brands better target and appeal to customers.
The overall experience the customer undergoes when interacting with a product, service, organisation or brand. This experience is generally formed from contact with brand touchpoints.
The process of managing a brand's interactions with current and potential customers, typically involving the use of software to track and manage customer data and interactions.
Statistical data relating to a population and groups within it. Metrics include location, age, gender, income, race and other.
Names that describe the function of the product or service. Examples: Pizza Hut, China Mobile, General Motors. These names require little thought from an audience. While they add value at the point of sale, this comes at the expense of being less distinctive and less emotive, therefore less memorable. Also called functional names.
The individual in a branding agency responsible for ensuring a creative team’s design proposals answer the creative brief.
A trait traditionally thought of as an important business advantage. However, newer research shows that distinctiveness, not differentiation, is more likely to lead to a sale. Exceptions include offerings with a clear advantage in price or availability.
A distinctive quality, such as a unique feature, mnemonic or promise, increase the memorability of a brand. This brand recognition raises the likelihood of choice at the point of sale.
Distinctiveness combined with availability leads to growth in sales.
These three channel categories generally complement each other in a through-the-line strategy.
Earned media is unsolicited positive coverage by third parties. Examples include word of mouth, news reports, social media influencers and testimonials.
Owned media are channels controlled by the brand or organisation. Examples include websites, social media channels and flyers.
Paid media describes messages that involve a paid-for component. Examples include advertising, sponsored influencer posts, product placement and event sponsorship.
Activity that enhances the perceived value of an organisation to employees and employment candidates.
A strategy involving the explicit support of one brand by another, or by an organisation, celebrity or other entity.
A measure of how a company's ethical and social policies and practises compare to those of its competitors. The rating is based on brand positioning as well as ethical variables.
Non-obvious names that evoke an association with the product or service, or emotion connected with the brand. These are generally more effective because they are more distinctive, and are thus more memorable. Examples include Google (googol is a very large number), Amazon (a large unstoppable flow), and Nike (Greek goddess of victory).
A name designed to convey the customer or user experience in some way. Experiential names can be created through wordplay or alliteration, and may have a sensory component. Examples include Best Buy, Safari, PayPal.
These products are sold quickly at a relatively low cost. Examples include non-durable household goods such as packaged foods, beverages, toiletries, confectionery, cosmetics, over-the-counter drugs, dry goods, and other consumables. Also known as consumer packaged goods (CPG) and consumer staples.
A research process used to gather qualitative data about a target market or consumer segment. A moderator leads a small group of participants through a discussion about a product, service, or topic. The goal is to gather feedback and insights that will inform marketing decisions.
A portmanteau of “free” and “premium”. A business model in which a brand offers a basic product or service for free, while charging for premium features or services.
A brand that nominally exists as an independent entity. For example, Proctor & Gamble’s freestanding brands include Gillette, Pringles and Pampers.
Generally competing on price, a generic brand presents a product as a commodity. It does not seek the advantages branding offers, such as reputation, recognition and recall.
A term used to describe a type of product or service typically not protected by a trademark. For example, “escalator” was trademarked by Otis Elevators but now is referred to by any such device.
The overall recognisable design of a piece of graphic art. This includes the fonts, colours, layout and other elements used in the artwork. A graphic designer will often use a specific graphic style to create a distinctive and cohesive look for a brand.
A line of text in a prominent position, such as in an advertisement, or located at the top of a webpage or editorial story, applied to summarise the content and attract readership.
Attributes (eg. professional, honest) that are expected for a business or service, and which won’t contribute to a brand’s distinctiveness.
In the digital world, a small graphic image representing an action, item, function or similar concept. Icons support viewer understanding and can be customised to build brand awareness and recognition.
A technique for attracting customers to products and services via content marketing, social media marketing, search engine optimization and branding.
A diagram or flowchart with captions and illustrations that makes a complex process or mental journey easier to understand.
Ownership of ideas, concepts and content. An important dimension to brand building is staking out legal ownership of valuable trademarks and copyrights.
An original name created for a brand, company, or product, with no other linguistic definition. Examples: Accenture, Kodak, Xerox.
The range of qualitative, quantitative, objective and subjective metrics indicating degree of success. In a branding context, this can include volume or value of market share, perceived awareness and return on investment.
A launch is an event or series of events that formally introduce a new product, service, line extension, or brand to the market. The launch typically includes a media conference, product demonstration, and/or a marketing campaign to generate buzz and excitement around the new offering. External launches are often preceded by internal launches to introduce the new offering to staff members.
A graphic, symbol or wordmark that represents an organisation, product or service, typically applied to enable identification and promote awareness.
A consistent typographical design used to represent the name of an organisation, product or service (as opposed to a graphic symbol). The name can get a graphic treatment such as customised font or letter forms for a unique brand identity. Coca-Cola, FedEx and Samsung are examples of logotypes. Also called a wordmark.
The discipline of creating awareness and desire to influence behaviour of a target audience towards a specific outcome, such as sales, sign-ups, or change of lifestyle habits, opinions, perceptions or beliefs.
The use of different marketing channels and tools in combination. Marketing communications are how an organisation brings a message to its desired market, or the market in general. Examples include advertising and public relations campaigns, brochures, POS displays and other collaterals, websites and other digital channels.
The brand with the largest market share in a certain industry.
A company's place in the market in relation to its competitors. Position can be ranked by various factors.
A group of potential customers sharing a common need or want that a company can target as a mass.
The percentage of a market (an industry, or a specific market segment) that is controlled by a particular company or product.
The process of targeting large populations with messages tailored for broad appeal through channels with a wide reach.
The dominant brand attached to an organisation's products and/or services. Examples include Virgin, Ford, United Nations.
A communication strategy using language and writing to build perceptions in an audience’s mind. Messaging is used to tell stories, make value propositions, influence decision making, and distinguish a brand. Messages repeated often and in creative ways build memories structures for audiences and reinforce brand recognition, and ultimately drive sales. Messaging is usually supported by visual communication to enhance effectiveness.
A structured approach to articulating the central messages of a brand prior to amplification in various channels. The messaging framework may include a brand strategy, brand model with promise, purpose and positioning phrase, mission, vision, values, culture statement, brand story, and other key messages. A comprehensive messaging framework is the foundation for long-term development of clear, relevant, effective communications aligned with stakeholders' needs and desires.
These interconnected ideas are part of the Balanced Scorecard (BSC) methodology formally applied by many global organisations. In that context these statements clarify the organisation’s aims to align management and provide an anchor for decision making. Generally such statements are for internal reference and should be interpreted by brand builders in a way more accessible to wider audiences.
Mission statements summarise what the organisation is doing to achieve its vision. This is generally on a 5 to 20-year timeframe.
Vision statements describe the end state achieved by fulfilling the mission. This is generally on a 5 to 20-year timeframe.
Values statements commit team members to a set of non-negotiable character traits in their conduct on behalf of the organisation.
A logo design composed of initial letters. Examples include Louis Vuitton, HP, General Electric.
A branded house strategy built around a single, unified idea. Often applied to achieve consistency and economies of scale. Examples include Google, FEDEX, GE.
Animated graphic design content or video footage which creates the illusion of movement. The term is often used to differentiate from (stationary) graphic design. Motion graphics often feature in commercial animation, video, film and/or audio developed for brand building and marketing communications.
A house of brands strategy targeting multiple marketing segments with multiple brands. Examples include Nestle, L'Oreal, Meta.
The methodology of creating, identifying and assigning names to companies, products and services for competitive advantage. Effective naming helps communicate a branded offering’s features, benefits and/or values to distinguish it for audiences, making it easier to notice and remember. Naming also affects trademarking. Different types of brand names include coined names, compound names, descriptive names, evocative names and acronym names.
A consistent customer experience across multiple channels, online and offline. Websites, apps and retail spaces offering a uniform experience amplifies the effectiveness of the branding and reduces the leverage of the channel.
The degree of correctness of the expression or action of a brand and its desired perception in people’s minds.
Mass media outside the home, typically visible to the general public. Includes billboards, signage, hoardings, public transport.
A brand leading one or more sub-brands.
Also known as tagline and slogan. This brief but important message is often placed near a logo. It may be viewed as the mental gateway to a brand, and will appear prominently at multiple audience touchpoints. The positioning phrase aims to place a key idea about the brand in people’s minds. An emotional positioning phrase may be more effective for a descriptive or well-known brand name. A more obscure brand name might benefit more from a descriptive positioning phrase that enhances understanding. A “positioning phrase” is often called a “tagline”. This can cause confusion because headlines are also misleadingly referred to as taglines.
A private label, (also called a private brand or private-label brand), is a brand owned by a retailer, offered alongside, and competing with, brands from other businesses.
A market research methodology that aims to understand human behaviour in a market context by observing interactions with sample audiences.
A market research methodology that aims to understand human behaviour through collection and analysis of data.
An estimation of the number of customers exposed to a brand or communications initiative, such as an advertising campaignitem. In recent years reach has been misguidedly criticised for being an unreliable indicator or vanity metric for demonstrating effectiveness. Reach is a key consideration for building brand awareness that leads to growth.
The strategy of adjusting the brand image of an organisation or other offering to change or maintain stakeholder perceptions.
Rebranding involves brand strategy, name, design, digital and other disciplines. It is typically applied to further a new or changing business strategy.
The process of evaluating and potentially adjusting core aspects of a brand to achieve the objectives of a particular marketing strategy.
Brands increasingly have to appeal to digital agents in addition to people. Search engines dispatch robots (“bots”, “spiders” or “crawlers”) that visit websites, read and classify the content, then rate its relevance. Websites can be written and coded to help ensure pages rank highly in search engines.
A text file placed in a website directory that directs search engine robots (spiders and crawlers) which pages to index and which to omit.
The process of providing sales teams with appropriate knowledge and support tools to engage prospects and sell effectively.
Search Engine Optimisation is the process of developing content that supports a high web page ranking by search engines such as Google.
A brand representing a service rather than a product.
A metric devised to gauge the degree a particular brand is available unprompted in audiences’ minds compared to competitors.
The use of music and other sounds to help brands build distinctive, relevant and favourable memory structures that engage audiences. Also called audio branding.
The intentional overarching approach an organisation takes to outperform rivals. Usually by offering something no one else can sustainably offer, by doing what everyone else does but cheaper, or by creating unique perceptions of otherwise generic commodities.
Business strategy is an integrated set of choices that consider the leader’s ambitions and objectives, stakeholder needs, a distinctive approach to winning, plus all the systems and skills needed to increase the chance of success. Brand advances strategy because human understanding and perception is crucial for successful execution.
Not to be confused with tactics, the details of how the strategy will be executed.
A strategy of developing one or more branded offerings that are different from, but related to, another branded product or service.
The details of how the strategy will be executed. Not to be confused with the strategy itself.
A common though imprecise term for a line of text in a prominent position, such as fixed under a logo to reinforce a company’s brand.
A methodology applied primarily by philanthropy, not-for-profit and government organisations to plan, evaluate and promote long-term social change. Theory of change has a strong influence on brand strategy.
A combination of above- and below-the-line marketing. Through-the-line is increasing in popularity and effectiveness, as ‘line’ definitions become more blurred from communications channels multiplying and becoming multipurpose. Also called 360º marketing.
A brand’s own unique way of communicating its personality through language to get noticed, remembered and recognised. Tone of voice is a part of the brand identity. Tone of voice parameters are expressed in guidelines to help writers understand how to apply it across touchpoints consistently and effectively. Also called tone and manner, brand voice and brand tonality.
Intellectual property that identifies an asset as originating from a particular legally-recognised source.
A compound of "translation" and "creation", it’s the process of adapting a message from one language to another, while maintaining its intent, style, tone, and context. An effective transcreated message evokes the same emotions and carries the same implications in the target language as it does in the source language.
A set of beliefs that govern the way an organisation operates and expresses its culture. These values assert perceived strengths and qualities that guide actions, influence codes of conduct and behaviour, and set a benchmark for measuring performance, purpose and action. Values may be expressed in brand purpose and brand promise.
A type of marketing where products or promotions are rapidly shared among customers.
A term that specifies the elements of a brand that can be perceived through sight within the wider context of brand identity.
Organic conversation about a product or brand that spontaneously occurs between individuals. Positive WOM is actively encouraged by brand builders as it’s potentially the most effective form of marketing. Closely related to the reputation of the brand.