brand series: branding terms explained

February 21, 2019

written by
Barbara O Stephenson

part 2. explain it like i’m five.

Marketing terms are like any other nomenclature, they make sense to the people who use them….sometimes. But those folks get confused too. So we’re going to go over brand terms like you’re not a marketing expert because if you were, why would you read this? And if you missed part 1 on why you should care, you can learn why brand matters here.  Onwards to brand concepts, how you use them, and what is your major risk factor by not doing it or worse, doing it poorly:

  • Mission Statement: External Use. This is a sentence or two that sums up what you do, how you do it, and why you do it.  Risk factor: getting so wordy so that no one really cares to read it, remember it, or bother to understand it. Have some modesty, unless you’re that one company that can prove that you’re saving the world and everyone is on your bandwagon.
  • Values: Internal Use. 3 to 5 adjectives on the guiding principles for making company decisions. Risk factor: This gets watered down by making too many values. Don’t blow this off, it’s the key to your internal decision making and the rudder on your ship.
  • Personality: Internal Use. This describes your brand in a sentence or a 3-5 word set and sets the tone and voice for content.
  • Vision Statement: Internal Use. Where do you want to go? Where are you going to be in 5 years? Risk factor: the wordy thing and thinking this is your business plan. It’s not.
  • Brand Promise/ Value Proposition: Mixed Use. This is a statement on what your customers can expect from you. Risk factor: that your internal team doesn’t deliver on this promise.
  • Tagline: External Use. Aka motto or slogan. A quick summary of who you are. Risk factor: these are often too ambitious and don’t match up with your actual values.
  • Personas: Internal Use. A set of character traits, issues, and thoughts for your core audience/ customer base. You’ll need empathy to do this and it helps to talk to actual people who buy from you. It’s easier to think about marketing when you can create a character that people can identify with… plus it’s fun. Risk factor: You can’t make all the people happy all the time so limit this target group.
  • Brand Stories: Mixed Use. Think of this as a short autobiography- how did you start, what problems were you solving, and why it matters. Risk factor: it’s not authentic and you get caught out
  • Comp Set: Internal Use. Knowing your competition, what makes you different (or not), and threat risk for both current and aspirational companies in your industry. Risk factor: this needs to be done minimally yearly because businesses come and go.
  • Target Market Audience: Internal Use. Who buys your product or service? Is there a market you’d like to enter? This feeds into personas. Risk factor: why bother to sell something if you don’t know your audience? Unless you’re well funded of course.

Of course, I’m not giving you the execution of this because that’s another 500,000+ words but a good start is to write things down and do some client interviews. If you already have a brand and want to do an update, then you need to do some analysis on what is working, what’s bad, and what can be altered to fit something new.

We shouldn’t need to tell you that the more objective you are, the better. That’s like telling you that all key stakeholders should be partnering in the brand strategy work.  Refer back to the first part in the series if you don’t understand why doing this without those people is a waste of time and energy. This is where we frame things as “we learn from our past mistakes” instead of repeating them.

next up: part 3. time to show the world