Demystifying Brand Jargon


The jargon out there for branding is…extensive. There are lots of terms, people use them in different ways, and many times use them incorrectly. I have been guilty of this as well in the past, but it’s nothing a little education can’t fix!

Here are the terms you need to know if you’re planning to build a business that tells your story, invites your audience into a community, and creates an impact in the lives of others:

Brand // Branding // Brand Identity // Brand Strategy

And for the purposes of this blog post, let’s pretend your business is a person named Steve. We’ll let Steve illustrate how these terms work in the life of your business.

So, what is a brand?

Your business is not a brand, your business has a brand.

A brand is a set of feelings, emotions, or experiences someone has when they interact with your business. From the first time they see your Instagram to their tenth purchase of your product, the feelings your client experiences, like being seen and understood, cared for, or inspired — that’s your brand.

Put simply, your brand is not just about what you do, it’s about who you are, what you stand for, and why you do what you do.

For your business, aka Steve, a brand is the gut feeling someone has about Steve when they first meet him.

What is branding?

Branding has to do with the foundation of your business — personality, core values, messaging, tone of voice, who you serve, differentiation, etc.

These are the elements that create the story of your business and provide the necessary information to establish a ‘brand,’ form mission and vision statements, craft marketing messaging, and create a brand identity.

For Steve, his branding is his quirky personality, his open-minded approach to the world, and his kind way of helping little old ladies across the street.

What is a brand identity?

Brand identity is the visual representation of your branding. Your logo, fonts, colors, illustrations, patterns, and photography all make up your brand identity. I often refer to it as a ‘visual identity’ for added clarity.

Your brand identity is the first interaction a customer has with your business. They see your IG feed, your website, photos of your products, or storefront… And if your visual aesthetic, your “look”, isn’t aligned with your branding — your messaging, tone of voice, positioning, and core values — it will be unclear to your customer what you’re all about.

Confusion turns people away. It’s easier to click away from something that’s unclear to something that makes sense to them than take the time to investigate what your brand is all about.

Our friend Steve likes to wear Birkenstocks (with socks, obviously), cargo shorts, and graphic tees with pictures of The Beatles and sayings like, “Be kind, dude”. First impressions of Steve include words like hippy, chill, and easygoing.

What is brand strategy?

Brand strategy is a plan for business success.

It outlines all the pieces of your branding, the foundational elements of your business, and documents them for the future of your business.

Decisions are made through brand strategy. Problems are solved through brand strategy. Your brand identity is made possible by your brand strategy. Your clients and audience feel taken care of every step of the way because of your brand strategy.

Otherwise, you’re just another business with a pretty logo.

Steve created a PDF file and references it every morning. His brand strategy helps him choose what to wear, how to talk to people, and what stores to shop at to keep himself ‘on brand.’ It’s obnoxious, but he’s got some serious brand loyalty going on. 🙂

A successful business will have all four of these things, but one is more important than the others. Any guesses?

Brand strategy!

Brand strategy is the winner. Without a brand strategy, you might be sending out mixed messages — especially when it comes to your visuals — and turning away potential clients.

Questions to ask yourself:

1. What is your brand? What do people say about you and your work?

2. Do you have a firm grasp of your branding? What are your core values, tone of voice, audience personas, etc.?

3. Are your visuals and graphics consistent with your branding? Or are you consistently inconsistent?

Answering these three questions will help inform your own brand strategy and bring you several steps closer to the kind of success you crave.

Thinking you might like some help with these questions? It’s so much easier for an impartial third party to guide you through these questions and see the magic that is difficult to see on your own.

I’d love to help! Book a free call here to see what might be possible when we collaborate on your inspired idea to help grow your brand.

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