16 common branding terms - never feel like an idiot again.
So you’ve heard the word “Branding” used in about a thousand different contexts and in reference to different things and right about now you’re probably thinking that you just don’t get it.
You think you need a logo but you might need a brand as well, and people keep talking about visions and mood boards and it’s all just a bit much.
So I’ve put together a little guide full of “branding terms” and their meanings - and what they should mean to you, the girlboss hustling for your own dream. No nasty corporate definitions here!
Plus, I’ve put together a handy PDF of all the definitions, PLUS 6 extra logo specific definitions for you to download so that you never have to feel like an idiot or go searching for the right words ever again. You can grab it below!
A brand isn’t a tangible thing. You could never point to any part of your business and say, “That’s my brand.” A brand is a combination of marketing strategies, design, values and more (most of which are listed below!) that come together to communicate what your business is about to your audience, and influence their perception of what it is that you do.
So if a ‘brand’ is a noun, “branding’ is a verb, we cool? So when people say they’re “branding” their business, they usually mean they’re in the process of strategically selecting all the bits and pieces that go together to form a brand. Unless they haven’t read this list, and they’re misusing the term!
What makes you, you? Your personality, the way you talk, the way you look. What you value, your ethical code and the way you treat others. If that makes up your personal identity, the same kinds of things make up the identity of your brand. What you value in your business, the way you present your business, and all of the ways you communicate your message make up the identity of your Brand.
A visual identity is a part of what makes up your brand identity, and consists specifically of all the imagery that represents your brand. This can include things like logos, photographs, the designs on your brand collateral, social media graphics. They should all present a cohesive look and feel.
A logo is the visual mark that represents your business - a good one should represent some of the things we talked about in your Brand Identity in a visual way.
There are a bunch of different kinds of logos, so I've put together a little guide for you with definitions of different kinds of logos, why you might want to use the different kinds, and examples of each type so that you can get an understanding of what might work for you!
Grab that here!
So, technically, marketing covers a huuuuuge scope and I can’t possibly tell you everything about it in one short paragraph, and I definitely recommend visiting someone like Halley @ Evolve and Succeed who is a marketing genius for more info, but put really simply, Marketing consists of all of the strategy and action that goes into promoting and selling your product or service to your audience. As it relates to Branding, it is important to consider what kinds of messages that your brand communicates to your audience, and if it is doing so successfully.
A mood board is a collage of existing imagery that represents the look and feel of a brand. This is usually the first step for many designers, as it helps to gain an understanding of what the client really wants. When I work with clients, I have them create a Pinterest board and fill it with images that represent the kind of brand they want to have. Then, I create a more polished version in Photoshop of my interpretation of what they want, using what they’ve told me about their business and brand, and the images they’ve selected. Then I show them my version, and they give feedback on whether the board is right for them or whether I need to dig a little deeper. This allows me to make sure we are both on the same page right from the outset.
These are all of the additional extra visuals that come together to support your logo in creating your Visual Identity. These include colour palettes, patterns, photography, icons/graphic elements, fonts and typefaces, illustrations, etc.
Brand Board / Style Guide
Many designers will often put the aforementioned Brand Elements into a handy graphic for you, like this one:
This is so you can see at a glance all of the brand elements and how they work together.
A style guide is similar, but it is usually a longer document explaining how to use each brand element in relation to each other. This isn’t always necessary, but can be handy if you’re unsure of your ability to manage your brand after your designer steps back from the process, or if you have multiple people employed in your business that need to understand the brand guidelines.
“Collateral” items are marketing materials such as business cards, letterheads, product packaging, thank you cards, stickers and labels, content upgrades and PDF documents and more that are designed to match your Visual Identity.
If you speak with a designer or encounter a design contract, the concept or ‘revisions’ will probably come up. Basically, revisions are a designer term for ‘rounds of changes’. This tells you how many times you can request changes for each design element before your designer will have to start charging you extra. Most designers work ‘revisions’ into the price of your quote so that you don’t have to pay more each time you ask for something to be changed. For example, your Logo design might come with:
One set of drafts
One Finalised drawing
Two rounds of revision
This means that your designer will present you with some logo drafts, you’ll tell them which one you like or what you think needs changing. They’ll then present you with one of the logos in a more finished form, and you get two chances after this to make changes.
Re-branding means you have an existing brand, but for a number of reasons (such as no longer being able to DIY, you recognise that your brand is not working with your marketing, etc), you have decided to completely overhaul the strategies, visuals or both that your brand has been using and present a new brand to your audience. This can be tricky to navigate your audience through as people naturally resist change, so if you’re considering re-branding, definitely consider speaking to a brand designer to evaluate your options.
This is pretty closely related with your Brand Identity. Your brand Atmosphere can best be summed up by the words you would use to describe your brand. For example, I would describe my brand as Feminine, Supportive, Friendly and Calm. You can look at almost every part of your brand, and decide whether they communicate that atmosphere.
In the big dreamland in your head, where do you see your business going? What do you want it to do for you? What is your biggest passion? I believe that understanding and being able to communicate this vision is one of your biggest strengths when it comes to brand building. For example, I’m a designer and my plan could just be “Have a design business”.
But my true vision, my big ‘why’ is to build a business that allows me to support myself, and build brands for women in business that allow them to be confident in what they’re doing and feel awesome everyday. I’m passionate about branding and the branding process - that’s why I don’t offer ‘general’ graphic design. I love working with women who come to me not believing in their branding and come out of the process loving how their business presents to the world.
So, what’s your Vision?
Just like we have personal values, we also have business values. For those of us in really personal small businesses, they often overlap. You might value honesty and integrity, or efficiency. Your values are the principles and standards that you run your business by.
Your voice is the what comes across every time someone heard you on video, reads an email from you, or flicks through your website or social media. It’s more than just the words you type - it’s the strategic selection of words that match your Brand Identity, and convey your values, vision, and marketing messages to your audience.
Not all of us are super skilled this, but thank god for copywriters!
That’s a wrap! If there are any other words or brand concepts that you’ve heard along that way that have just confused the hell out of you, drop them in the comments and I’ll do my very best to explain them to you in normal person speak (and not corporate robot language).
And if you’re confused by all the different kinds of logos, don’t forget to grab your free guide that contains more handy definitions of all kinds of logos plus plenty of examples to help you out!
Until next time!