The branding world is full of jargon. This can sometimes create a language barrier between our clients and us. To remedy this we offer the following glossary of terms clients most often ask us to clarify.

Awareness Survey: a survey that measures an audience’s familiarity with a brand, often divided into promoted and spontaneous awareness

Belief Statement: part of the Brand Core; the heart of everything you do; the intangible that makes you get up in the morning and inspires customer loyalty; the reason why your company exists; your “Why?”

BHAG (“bee-hag”): part of the Homework Set; a Big, Hairy, Audacious Goal designed to help you break free from conducting business as usual; a true BHAG is clear and compelling, serves as a unifying focal point of effort and has a clear finish line so the organization knows when it has achieved the goal; it is tangible, energizing and highly focused; people get it right away; it takes little or no explanation

Boilerplate: part of the Language Library; brief text that can be used in many written contexts – proposals, press releases, articles, collateral materials, etc. – without much tweaking; it carries the spirit, personality and integrity of your brand and can live in any communication materials through which you introduce and represent your organization

Brand: so much more than a logo; the language and energy used to represent a brand in every interaction; a person’s perception of a product, service, experience or organization

Brand Agency: a strategic professional firm that provides and manages brand-building services

Brand Ambassador: anyone who promotes your brand through interactions with customers, prospects and partners; ideally, every employee

Brand Audit: a formal assessment of a brand’s strengths and weaknesses across all touchpoints and tactics

Brand Behaviors: part of the Brand Core; actions that translate your brand values and brand personalities into daily expression

Brand Core: this is the true spirit of your brand; every element of your expression – on paper and in action, in speech and in print, one-on-one and as a group – must share its passion and energy; it should be championed by leadership and honored throughout the organization; it identifies, most importantly, your purpose: “Why” does your organization exist and why are you passionate about it; we create your brand core collaboratively with you and present it to you visually in diagrammatical format

Brand Equity: the accumulated value of a company’s brand assets, both financially and strategically; the overall market strength of a brand

Brand Identity: the outward expression of a brand, including its name, trademark and visual appearance; see “Logo”

Brand Loyalty: the strength of preference for a brand compared to competing brands; measured in repeat purchases and likelihood to recommend

Brand Personalities: part of the Brand Core; human qualities that strengthen your brand values and put them into creative expression

Brand Playbook: a guide to living your brand, perhaps in the form of a pocket-sized booklet or desktop display; a compelling tool in the injection of your brand intended to help all internal stakeholders understand and attach to the new brand; first and foremost, it answers the question: What is a brand; it supports employee alignment to your culture and inspires your team to live the new brand via specific messaging taken directly from your Brand Core

Brand Promise: part of the Brand Core; your pledge to customers; a promise that you live and breathe day in and day out; “tagline” and “slogan” are synonyms of “Brand Promise”

Brand Strategy: a plan for the deliberate, systematic development of a brand to meet specific business objectives

Brand Values: part of the Brand Core; the human principles that express your brand position and support your brand promise

Brand Voice: the unique personality of a company as expressed in verbal and written communications

Branded Environment: the extension of your brand into your physical space; bringing brand interaction to life where you work

Branding: the comprehensive, continuous process of building a brand

Brandscape: the application of design inclusive of shapes, textures and patterns, and how that applies consistently across all touchpoints and tactics

Breakpoint: a term in responsive website design referring to the point at which your website’s content responds and shifts to a different browser width to provide users with the best possible layout to consume information

Charismatic Brand: a brand that inspires a high degree of loyalty; also known as a lifestyle brand or passion brand

Challenger Brand: a new or rising brand that is viable in spite of competition from the dominant brand in its category

Charrette: an intense session of design or planning activity

Clear Zone: a clearly defined space around a logo or brand identity into which no other elements, graphics or text are to enter under any circumstance; referenced throughout your Graphic Standards Manual

Competitor Audit: part of the Homework Set; a tool we use during our Discover phase to gather your commentary on competitors in your industry

Content Writing: writing to entice online audiences to stay on your website and engage with your brand; writing to inform

Conversational Phrases: part of the Language Library; talking points that can be used in emails, on the phone or in person when addressing customers, partners and colleagues

Copy Writing: writing for the sake of promotional advertising or marketing; creating compelling and high-valued content that aims at pitching your brand; writing to sell

Creative Brief: a document that sets parameters for brand building, including context, themes and goals

Creative Testing: the process of gathering audience perceptions and reactions to a proposed tactic, touchpoint or creative campaign

Discover Phase: the first phase of our three-phase strategic process; In the “Discover” phase, via the optimal blend of qualitative and quantitative research, we take a deep dive and learn about your challenges, strategy, objectives, target audiences, category and peers; to punctuate our discovery activities we provide you with a robust written distillation report of our findings and insights

Distillation Report: a robust document communicating our discovery findings and insights, themes and recommendations

Elevator Speech: part of the Language Library; an expression of your Belief Statement and purpose that you might share with someone if you have less than a minute to explain who you are, what you do and why; it is written using natural, everyday language and is meant to be used conversationally, not recited verbatim

Experience Mapping: an exercise we use during the Discover phase that provides insight into the emotional journey a customer takes before, during and after interacting with your brand

Focus Group: a qualitative research technique in which a demographically diverse group of people is assembled to participate in a guided discussion, moderated by a professional, about a particular topic

Font: a particular size, weight and style of a typeface; see “Typeface”

Graphic Standards Manual: brand management tool that explicitly conveys clear guidelines for brand usage; a crucial tool in the administration and application of your brand that addresses signature configurations, lockups and clear zones, palette and color configurations, and typography; this tool also calls attention to what not to do when using your logo in various applications

Homework Set: a set of documents we deploy to you during our Discover phase to gather initial inputs; the Homework Set often includes BHAGs, a S.W.O.T. Analysis and Competitor Audit

Implement Phase: the second phase of our three-phase process; in the “Implement” phase, our collaboration with you comes to life as we produce creative solutions, directly informed by our research, that yield the desired response from your various audiences

Information Architecture: the practice of determining how to arrange the parts of a website to be intuitive for users; the art and science of organizing and labeling websites, intranets, etc. to support usability

Internal Theme: part of the Brand Core; a motivational message to reinvigorate your team with excitement about your brand; think of this as your rallying cry that can be used internally to inspire and encourage one another

Language Library: built upon the tenets of your Brand Core, the Language Library is a succinct collection of key messaging elements including elevator speech, boilerplate, conversational phrases, headlines and calls to action

Lockup: the final form of a logo with all of its elements locked in position; for the sake of maintaining consistency across all touchpoints, lockups should not be taken apart or altered in any way

Logo: an abbreviation of logotype, now applied incorrectly to all trademarks; see “Brand Identity”

Logo Igniter: a tool designed to help our creative team understand your preferences regarding design as you see it being used in the expression of your brand

Logotype: a distinctive typeface or lettering style used to represent a brand name; see “Word Mark”

Manage Phase: the third phase of our comprehensive brand development process; in the Manage phase we provide you with internal-facing tools that help you control and administer your brand on an ongoing basis

Mission Statement: a concise statement of the purpose of an organization; a bold, succinct and inspirational statement of who you are and what you do

Mobile-First Design: the creation of an online experience for a mobile platform before designing it for a desktop platform; designing for smaller screens first, then adding more features and content for larger screens

Mood Board: a type of collage consisting of images and text that we identify collaboratively with you to visually illustrate your aspirational brand; a helpful tool for designers throughout the creative process

Net Promoter Score (“NPS”): an index ranging from -100 to 100 that measures the willingness of customers to recommend a company’s products or services to others; used as a proxy for gauging the customer’s overall satisfaction with a company’s product or service and the customer’s loyalty to the brand

One-on-One Interview: a qualitative research technique in which subjects are interviewed individually

Positioning: the process of differentiating a product, service or company in a customer’s mind to obtain a strategic competitive advantage; the first step in building a brand; see “Zag”

Qualitative Research: research, such as focus groups and one-on-one interviews, designed to provide unique insight crucial to the development and creation of a brand

Quantitative Research: research designed to provide measurement, such as surveys

Responsive Design: an approach to web page creation that makes use of flexible layouts and flexible images; the goal of responsive design is to build web pages that detect the user’s screen size and orientation and change the layout accordingly

Round-Table Discussion: a qualitative research technique, guided by a professional, in which several people are invited to discuss and debate a given subject

SEO: search engine optimization; the process of affecting the visibility of a website in organic, i.e. unpaid, search engine results by adjusting or rewriting website content and site architecture to achieve a higher ranking

Signature: the defined visual relationship between a logotype and a symbol or trademark; also “Logo” and “Brand Identity”

Sitemap: a diagram of your website pages that will be accessible to users, organized in a hierarchical fashion and used as a planning tool for web design; sitemaps outline the organizational pattern, navigation and labeling system that will be implemented in the creation of a website; see “Information Architecture”

Skin: a visual rendering of the look and feel of your website, including colors, fonts and other graphical elements; a blueprint for the look and feel of your user interface that does not affect the functionality

Stakeholder: any person with a vested interest in a company or brand including shareholders, employees, partners, suppliers, customers and community members

Stationery Package: the application of your brand identity and brandscape across business cards, letterheads, envelopes and note cards; also “Communication Package”

S.W.O.T.: part of the Homework Set; a tool we use to assess Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities and Threats

Tagline: a catchphrase or slogan used to summarize your market position; see “Brand Promise”

Thought Leader: a brand that leads the market in influential ideas, not necessarily market share

Tone of Voice: part of the Language Library; single-word descriptors of what your brand voice is and isn’t

Touchpoint: any point of contact between your brand and your customers or prospective customers including packaging, advertising, company employees and casual conversation

Trademark: a symbol used to represent a brand

Typeface: a set of one or more fonts that share common design features; each font of a typeface has a specific weight, style, width, slant, italicization, ornamentation and designer or foundry

Typography: the art and technique of arranging type to make written language legible, readable and appealing when displayed; the arrangement of type involves selecting typefaces, point sizes, line lengths, line-spacing and letter-spacing, and adjusting the space between pairs of letters

Usability Testing: a discovery process measuring how easy it is for users to find information on a website; users are asked to complete tasks while they are being observed by a researcher to asses where they encounter problems and experience confusion

User Experience Design: optimizing a product or website for effective and enjoyable use; the process of developing and improving the interaction between a potential or active customer and a company

User Interface Design: design focused on the look and feel or presentation of a product or website; the transference of a brand’s strengths and visual assets to a website interface to best enhance the user’s experience; the process of visually guiding the user through a website interface via interactive elements

Vision Statement: an aspirational statement that indicates where an organization is headed; a statement of your goals that builds momentum and provides motivation for the future

Web Application (“App”): as compared to a website, a web application depends on interaction and requires user input and data processing; primarily allows users to perform actions; defined by dynamic content

Website: a connected group of pages on the internet regarded as a single entity, usually maintained by one person or organization and devoted to a single topic or several closely related topics; primarily informational; defined by static content

Website Igniter: an input gathering device that helps our team efficiently and accurately determine your desired structure, navigation, behavior, functionality, and look and feel for a website; the Website Igniter process gives stakeholders the opportunity to communicate their vision for the company’s online presence

Wireframe: a structural rendering of the user interface of your website, much like an architectural blueprint, used to demonstrate how website elements will be organized and function when the website is live

Word Mark: the brand name as represented by a distinctive typeface or lettering style; see “Logotype”

Zag: a disruptive innovation that yields a competitive advantage; the differentiating idea that drives a charismatic brand; see “Positioning”