Please feel free to borrow from—or add to—our Branding Glossary of Terms.


Brand – A set of beliefs, values and assets associated with a product, service or organization—which, if managed properly, create value and influence behavior.

Brand Architecture – The defined configuration upon which branding endeavors and extensions are built. The architecture defines brand relationships; how organizational brands and sub-brands relate to each other.

  • Central Brand aka Master Brand / Branded House — All products and services are marketed under a central or organizational brand name.
    • Sears sells Sears brand hammers, dishwashers and clothing.
    • USAA markets the majority of its products and services under the USAA brand.
  • Parent Brand aka Over Brand — All brand offspring share the parent brand’s name, therefore drawing brand association and trust.
    • Microsoft lends its brand authority to Microsoft Office, Microsoft Word, Microsoft Excel, Microsoft PowerPoint, etc.
    • Virgin follows a Parent Brand architecture for all of its organizational sub-brands.
  • Independent Brand — Brands that may share ownership and resources but are built as independent and sometimes competing entities.
    • Brinker International owns and operates Chili’s, Maggiano’s Little Italy and Macaroni Grill
    • GM operates Chevrolet, Cadillac, GMC, etc.
  • Ingredient Brand — An Independent Brand that is incorporated into a host brand as an ingredient or component to add value-by-association.

NOTE — Large organizations with complex product and/or service offerings may operate several architectures simultaneously. (For instance, Sears sells and owns Sears Tools and Craftsman Tools)

Brand Audit — An assessment of all communication touch-point materials, ensuring they harmoniously support the core brand strategy.

Brand Culturalization — The process of building a strong brand culture within your organization, centered on delivering a defined brand promise.

Brand Equity — The monetary value of the brand as a corporate asset above and beyond the balance sheet.

Brand Essence — The distillation of the intrinsic brand characteristics into a succinct core concept.

Brand Extension — A new product or service that is related to an existing brand through its defined brand architecture.

Brand Identity — The outward manifestation of the brand, typically associated with the brand’s logo and identity system.

Brand Messaging Propositions — Defines the three or four key “messages” most relevant to the brand’s ideal customer model, based on both rational and emotional variables. The Brand Messaging Propositions are the building blocks for all organizational messaging.

Brand Essence — The distillation of the intrinsic brand characteristics into a succinct core concept.

Brand Manual – A single document containing all information necessary to understand, express, grow and manage the brand. The Manual typically consists of the Brand Platform, Brand Narrative, Brand Management Guidelines, and Brand Articulation Examples.

Brand Narrative – aka Brand Story – Extends the Brand Platform (primarily the Brand Essence) into a positioning ‘narrative’ so it can be extended to many different audiences. The narrative seeks to communicate a unified brand position to multiple audiences who may be psychographically very different, whose understanding and usage of the brand may be very different, and who need to be addressed in very different ways. The ultimate goal is to achieve the same brand position among all audiences.

Brand Personality – The human characteristics and attributes describing the brand.

Brand Platform — The Brand Platform is the foundation upon which a brand strategy is built. It typically consists of the following elements: Values & Beliefs, Brand Positioning Statement, Brand Architecture, Brand Personality, Brand Promise and Brand Essence.

Brand Positioning Statement – A succinct statement, rooted in fundamental competitive advantages, that resonates with broad audiences, yet motivates and influences individuals on their own terms.

  • The Brand Positioning Statement should answer: what does the brand do, who does it do it for, and why does the brand matter?

Brand Premium — The difference between the value of the brand to the consumer and the cost of the product/service without the brand attached…the premium the brand brings.

Brand Promise — A formal pledge, made by every internal stakeholder to every patron, which is delivered through every aspect of the business.

Brand Strategy — The formal plan for the systematic development of a brand to enable it to meet its business objectives. The strategy is rooted in fundamental research; the brand’s vision is driven by the principles of differentiation and sustained consumer appeal. The brand strategy will influence the total operation of a business to ensure consistent brand behaviors and brand experiences.

Brand Strength — the subjective evaluation of a brand’s strength based on a relative score for the following criteria:

  • Commitment — A measure of an organization’s internal commitment to or belief in its brand. Commitment is the extent to which the brand receives support in terms of time, influence and investment.
  • Protection — Score based on how secure a brand is across a number of dimensions – from legal protection and proprietary ingredients to design, scale or geographic spread.
  • Clarity — The brand’s values, positioning and proposition must be clearly articulated and shared across the organization, along with a clear view of its target audiences, customer insights and drivers. It is vital that those within the organization know and understand how to support the brand.
  • Responsiveness — Measurement of a brand’s ability to adapt to market changes, challenges and opportunities. The brand should have a desire and ability to constantly evolve and renew itself.
  • Authenticity — This component is about how soundly a brand is based on an internal capability. Authenticity asks if a brand has a defined heritage and a well-grounded value set, as well as if it can deliver against customers’ expectations.
  • Relevance — This component estimates how well a brand fits with customer needs, desires and decision criteria across all appropriate demographics and geographies.
  • Understanding — Not only must customers recognize the brand, but there must also be an in-depth understanding of its distinctive qualities and characteristics, as well as those of the brand owner.
  • Consistency — This measures the degree to which a brand is experienced without fail across all touchpoints and formats.
  • Presence — This measures the degree to which a brand feels omnipresent and how positively consumers, customers and opinion formers discuss it in both traditional and social media.
  • Differentiation — This is the degree to which customers perceive the brand as having a position that is distinct from the competition.

Brand Value Pyramid — Key messaging topics specific to the brand placed in a tri-segmented pyramid structure, similar to Maslow’s hierarchy of needs. The topics in the base of the pyramid are the Baseline Requirements to be in the brand category. The center of the pyramid contains the Functional and Emotional Benefits enabled by the Baseline Requirements. The top of the pyramid is the Emotional Connector to the brand. The Emotional Connector is typically very closely associated with the Brand Essence. This pyramid construct allows for contextualized brand messaging based upon the topics that are most important to the Primary Customer Model.

Brand Vales & Beliefs — A formal list of the principles, ideologies, doctrines and truths that drive a brand’s fundamental belief system.