Jargon buster - branding

Your brand is more than a logo and a tagline!

But when people start talking to you about the importance of branding and all the things that go with it, ever notice how much jargon they use?

Here’s a jargon buster to help you navigate the way to building a strong brand!

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The identity of your business, product or service.

It helps your business stand out from your competition and your customers   make a choice of who to buy from.  

Identity isn’t just what your brand looks like, it’s what people associate with it. And what you put out there.

Your brand is tangible and you can use all of the 5 senses to your advantage. Your brand identity takes lots of different and separate bits and brings them together to make something whole.

As your business grows, your brand is built into the company’s culture and that should reflect your brand’s core values and heritage.


Where your customer comes into contact with your brand.

This includes your website, emails, transactional emails (e.g. order confirmation, password reset), forms, packaging, proposals, voicemails, apps, stationery, business cards, vehicles, products, services, employees, presentations, videos, direct mail, PR, blog posts, social media posts, pages and groups, advertising, offices, shops and other environments – anything that is in any way linked with your brand!

Every one of these gives you an opportunity to grab people’s attention so they get to know your brand and build a relationship with them so they come back and buy from you again and again. Your brand identity should be shining through consistently across all your touchpoints.


The process of using your brand to build awareness of it and continually building customer loyalty.

It’s about using every opportunity you have to show why your potential customers should choose your brand over the others. 


The groups of people that influence your brand in some way.

This includes customers, employees, board of directors, competitors, suppliers, shareholders, strategic partners, and more. Finding out as much as you can about them will help you with things like positioning and messaging. Learn about their characteristics, needs, behaviour and opinions.

Whilst you might create your brand with your customers in mind, your brand’s reputation will be known about by more than this group. 

Brand positioning

Identifying how your brand is perceived by your stakeholders and why it’s different to your competitors.

By identifying your competitors, analysing their brands and how they’re positioned, you can find gaps in the market that present opportunities for your brand. The focus is on what’s being associated with their brands and the benefits they offer. You can also look for where your offer is similar to your competitors, by offering the same you’re removing what makes them different and then adding your own twist, so you’re standing out from your competition.

Your brand has 2 sides – the one that you designed and intend to be visible and experienced by your customers and the one that your customers experience and perceive. Brands are always evolving; you need to know how people see yours. Strong brands are created by consistently ‘being’ – it’s not just about design and messaging, it’s about living your brand.


Typewriter with jargon buster - brand typed on paper
Mission statement

The bigger picture of what you do on a daily basis.

A statement based on your purpose or ‘why’, who you serve and what you do. Your mission statement is how you’re working towards achieving your vision. You carry out your mission to get closer to your vision. Your mission guides your actions and decision making.

Here’s some examples:
Honest Tea: “Honest Tea seeks to create and promote great-tasting, healthy, organic beverages.”
Tesla: “Tesla’s mission is to accelerate the world’s transition to sustainable energy.”
Tesco: “Serving shoppers a little better every day.”

Not all organisations have a mission and a vision statement. Some will have one but not the other.

Vision statement

Your vision of a future that’s possible because your business exists.

This is about setting out what your business is going to do to change the world – or your part of the world. It serves 2 main purposes; to guide your decision making and actions so that what you do brings you closer to making your vision a reality, to inspire those around you, including your customers and employees, so that you’re all part of something bigger and are making it happen together.

Vision statements are ambitious. It’s likely to be something that you’re always working towards. When people work together on something that’s meaningful they tend to work with more purpose and passion, increasing their productivity.

Examples include:
the Virgin Group’s: “Changing business for good”,
Harley Davidson’s “To fulfil dreams through the experiences of motorcycling”,
BBC’s ““To enrich people’s lives with programmes and services that inform, educate and entertain”  

Quick note – there’s a bit of move from mission and/or vision statements to a ‘Core purpose’. Both Tesco and Virgin Group have done this. This is very much around answering the questions “Why does this brand exist?” or “What does this brand do?”
Brand strategy

A concept that everything you do and say should be aligned with.

This concept should be building on your vision and go hand-in-hand with your business strategy. It should come from your core values and your culture, and echo your deep understanding of your customer’s needs. It’s also going to define your positioning, how your brand stands out from your competition, why your brand is better, and your unique value proposition.

It needs to be easy to talk about and for people to understand and get behind. It’s also a guide for your marketing, makes sales easier so you can sell more, and gives your employees a clear picture of what’s expected of them.

Core values

What your brand stands for, what’s important to your business and what you want to be associated with your brand.

Most people want their brand to be associated with similar things, like quality, innovation, individual responsibility, empowerment, passion … . The values you choose have to be ones that are a genuine fit for your business. They need to be communicated in everything you do, consistently. If you select ‘honesty’ as a value, you can’t pick and choose when that applies; half-truths and secret squirrel meetings get noticed internally, and all things digital provide a very public forum! You and everyone you work with need to be able to uphold your values.

You can communicate your values through design, the language you use, messaging, staff training, material and product selection and so on.


What you expect everyone to do to live the values you’ve created.

Values and behaviours play a big part in shaping culture. It’s possible to have a value but have two or more different ways of demonstrating it that are conflicting. Without more detail it’s possible for values to cause confusion and possibly conflict.

Behaviours are easy to define, give standards so that everyone knows what’s expected and are measurable, so that you can assess and improve.


What it’s like to work for your business.

Having a great culture increases employee engagement. Your culture should be brand focused, so that the reality of your brand is the same for your customers and your employees. 

The mission and vision statement, and core values should be known and demonstrated by everyone. Living and being your brand should be encouraged so that everyone does all the little things consistently.

The employee experience is often overlooked when brand is seen as an ‘external’ concept for customers. Then there can be a mismatch between your culture and your brand, that will weaken your brand because of the inconsistencies your customers will ultimately experience.

Unique value proposition

Tells potential customers why they should do business with you and not your competitors.

Ideally a unique value proposition also includes the benefits of your products and services so they’re instantly clear.

They’re usually 1 sentence, that links with your brand positioning. If you can’t make it clear, then you need to revisit your positioning!

Don’t confuse your unique value proposition with your tagline! Here’s Uber’s:
Mission: “We ignite opportunity by setting the world in motion.”
Tagline: “Connecting you with the people, place, and things you love.”
UVP: “Ride with Uber for fast, reliable rides that are affordable and available 24/7.”

Brand equity

The value of your brand based on its reputation; your brand becomes a valuable business asset.

Reputation isn’t just good, bad or indifferent, it’s also about awareness – whether have people heard of your brand. Your success is based on building your reputation, preserving your good reputation and keeping that going. A strong and consistent brand identity helps create and increase brand equity because people are more likely to recognise it, be aware of it and be loyal to it, all making your business more successful.

Brand architecture

A hierarchy or family tree of your brands if you have more than one.

If you have a brand for your parent company, any other businesses that are part of the same group, products and services, then this is documenting their relationships to each other. By documenting it, you’re making it easier to be consistent in your branding because you, and those you work with, know which brand to use and when.

For example, if you have created several products and created separate and distinct brands for each of them, you’re having to build a reputation for each of them, starting from scratch every time. By using the parent brand, your business’ brand that already has an established reputation, alongside your newer brand you’re showing that there’s a relationship between the two and people will know what to expect.


A short phrase that sums up the brand identity, how it’s positioned and helps it stand out from the competition.

You see these all the time in marketing campaigns, usually underneath the logo. Like Audi’s ‘vorsprung durch technik’, Budweiser’s ‘King of beers’, Nike’s ‘Just do it’ and Tesco’s ‘Every little helps’. 

Your tagline should be unique, easy to say and remember, be something you can trademark and ideally trigger an emotion. The majority are between 2 and 6 words long. It really is about distilling your brand down to capture its essence.

Brand ambassador

Someone that represents your brand, understands and demonstrates your brand’s values, vision and brand’s essence.

This might be you or your employees. You want as many brand ambassadors or champions as you can get. To do that you need to invest in engaging your employees with the brand. Don’t just focus on what the brand is, but also why it’s important and the difference it will make. The more people you have championing your brand, the more consistent its delivery will be.

Brand personality

How you present your brand – tone of voice, type of language and image.

This is about making your brand come alive and giving it character. Making it something that your customers and employees can love and own. There are several aspects to it.


Terms and phrases used to talk around your brand, your products and services consistently chosen because they resonate with the people delivering the brand and those experiencing it.

Tone of voice

How you express your message. This is defined by the personality you want your brand to have. It might be down-to-earth and chatty, professional and authoritative, confiding and friendly… So if you were to leave a voicemail asking someone to call you, you might say “Please would you call me back as soon as you can?” or “I’d be grateful if you would return my call at your earliest opportunity.” or “Can you call me back – we need to chat. Thanks!”


What your brand looks like; from the logo to documents, website and other touchpoints.

Is it hard corporate identity or something softer, more friendly and caring?

Brand colours

The colours you consistently use to support the visual side of your brand to help people recognise it.

If you have a lot of colours you might have specific uses for certain shades, such as all the buttons on your website are red. Or split your colours into a primary palette (the ones you use most often) and a secondary palette (the ones you use occasionally).

You can also specify any rules about what colours can be used together and those that can’t.

Most colours have colour references with them. You need these to make sure your colours are consistent across media. Digital uses RGB or #HEX. Print uses CMYK. Paint is RAL. There are also Pantone references for very specific shades. If you don’t have the alternative colour values, there are easy to use colour converter websites.


Brand guidelines

A document detailing everything anyone needs to know about your brand that can be shared and easily understood to make sure your brand is always presented consistently.

Sometimes called a brand book.

Because your brand should evolve over time, this is a living document – you should use it and update it often!

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