Branding 101: Essential Branding Terms Every Business Owner Needs to Know
When you hear the term brand what comes to mind for you?
You may have heard this before but a brand is more than just a logo. Seth Godin sums it up well when he says, “a brand used to be something else. It used to be a logo or a design or a wrapper. Today, that’s a shadow of the brand, something that might mark the brand’s existence.”
Branding encompasses many various concepts and terminology, all of which are essential in building a solid and successful brand.
Whether you’re a business owner or an in-house marketing professional, refining your branding know-how is critical for keeping your company messaging relevant.
We understand you may not have a ton of time to brush up on the world of branding, but we also know you’ve got big dreams and goals, and you want to build a great brand.
That’s why we’ve outlined the most commonly used—and misunderstood—branding terminology. Access the full glossary of branding buzz words here on our blog!
Branding Buzz Words
The process and outcome of discovering and communicating the overall image of your company. This includes everything from your visual and written content; it’s the essence of your company!
The representation of your company (the image you project in the market) to your target audience. How would your customer describe your brand to a good friend? Your brand is the who, what, what, where, and how of your business. You can think of branding as what you want people to think about when they think of your company. It’s your look and feel! Jeff Bezos, the CEO of Amazon said it best, “Your brand is what people say when you’re not in the room.”
Your brand identity is the forward-facing expression or “look” of your brand. It’s the core visual message that your customer receives when viewing or engaging with a product, person, or service related to your brand. Think: logo, name, tagline, typography, color, and patterns.
Real world example: Lummi Island Realty
A mood board is a visual, atmospheric collection of images in order to convey a feeling, concept, and message. A mood board helps set the mood for your business’s key visual elements. Simply put, mood boards are a collage of images, texts, landscapes, colors, and patterns that help tell your business’s story.
Real world example: Berkeley Community Acupuncture
A business logo is a recognizable design or symbol that a company uses to represent their organization and products.
Real world examples—can you name that brand?
Logomarks/submarks are a simplified version of your company logo with the same key colors and elements as your official logo. Submarks can be used as an alternative to your primary logo in places where your official logo may not fit. Think of an abbreviated version of your company’s name, with a more simplified design version of your logo. Typically, submarks are used in materials where the specifications are too small or disproportional for your primary logo design. We like to think of a submark as the thumbprint of your business.
Real world example: Roots & Resolve
Your branding voice is the unique language and written (or spoken) personality of your business (and oftentimes, the brand voice reflects the personalities of the business owner or team members, too). Your brand voice can be eclectic, laid-back, motivational, glamourous, etc.
Tone and Voice are very similar, however the difference is how we use it. Essentially, the voice is your brand personality and tone is your brand attitude. Tone is what we do with our brand personality. It’s all in the message delivery. If your brand were a character or a real-live person, what kind of attitude would it have? Your brand tone can be positive, humorous, sarcastic, honest and candid, expertly professional, or something else entirely and unique to you!
Taglines are meant to last for while; they’re an investment in your messaging for your brand. When you develop a tagline, you want it to stick around and support your branding for quite some time. It can become what your company is known for.
Creating a tagline helps your business recognition extend beyond your logo and company name. Taglines will further complement your brand’s identity and help customers feel more connected to your brand. Consider taglines as your verbal or written logo.
Examples: I’m loving it—McDonalds; Just Do It.—Nike; Taste the Rainbow—Skittles
Slogans are also quick, catchy, memorable, two to four word phrases but are used for a single product or service your company is promoting. Slogans describe why people should choose your products or services over another company.
Real world example: Apple’s company tagline: Think Different
Apple’s iphone slogans change with each newly released iphone iteration. It's not an iPhone if it's not an iPhone.
Your brand values can often be considered the core of your brand’s purpose. They help you navigate the “why” behind what you do, as well as help you develop the real personality behind your brand. Brand values are similar to personal values, as they are the ethics in which you decide to govern your company and engage with your customers. For some businesses, their brand values may be to offer the highest quality of a product or service (from hand-crafted to high-end luxury). Other companies may value top-notch customer service as their claim to fame. Whatever your brand values, it’s imperative that you identify those values and integrate them into your branding; clearly expressed brand values will help your ideal audience feel connected to your company, products, and services.
Your brand color palette is a unique combination of colors that evoke the look and feel of your brand. A good rule of thumb to go by is to have 4-5 colors that encapsulate the overall feeling and emotion you want your brand to convey. We design our clients’ brand color palettes using color psychology methodology. When creating a brand color palette, less is more; choose colors that complement one another.
Unless your business is a true unicorn, more than likely other companies exist that offer similar services and products. It’s vitally important that you learn about your competition for your own company’s well-being. Go beyond learning about what products or services they offer. See what content those other brands produce on their website, blog, and social media. Research their SEO structure. Figure out who are your top ten competitors, do the research on them, and then find areas where your company has an edge. This is vital for your company stay competitive within your industry.
Typography is the aesthetic component of written text. Good typography reinforces the narrative and image of your brand. Typography goes beyond picking a font; making sure you have the right size and appropriate type are also important. For example, the typography used for a traffic sign would look very out of place on a Christmas card or wedding invitation. The same goes for if you switch the two—the beautiful cursive script often seen on a wedding card wouldn’t be very effective if used on a stop sign.
In branding, typically there is always a headline font. This should be the largest font you’ll use in copy. A secondary headline font is used for smaller headlines and subheaders, and a body copy font, the smallest size, is used for all body copy.
Branding collateral are the various pieces of branded and designed material used in promotion of a particular company, product, and services. These can include brochures, business cards, flyers, postcards, downloadable guides, media kits, blog posts, case studies, product guides and other informational material.
Real world example from some of our past client projects:
Now it’s your turn!
How many of these terms were you familiar with before reading this post? Did any definition surprise you? Which area(s) of branding does your business need to work on the most?
Leave a comment below, and let us know your thoughts.