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Definitions of Marketing & Branding Terms

There is a great deal of confusion around the terms used in marketing and branding. Much of it is probably because of the love of jargon. The more big words some people use, the more they think they can charge. We hope to demystify some of the marketing jargon and clarify things here.


Another Meaningless Acronym. (Had to throw this one in).


See Brand Awareness below.


First what it is NOT: A brand is not a company logo. The logo is only the visual representation of the brand.

What it is, is not as easy to explain. In the end, a brand is the associations people have with the company, product or service that are beyond its real, tangible aspects. It is a unique idea or concept owned inside the mind of the prospect.

It is important to realize that brands live in the mind of the marketplace, despite what attorneys might say. From the company side, a brand can be thought of as a unique promise of quality that is reinforced ... or torn assunder ... by the customers' experiences.

Brand Architecture

Ah, jargon! A term that refers to how the brands a company owns are organized. One type of "architecture" has sub-brands, for example, iMac and iPod are sub-brands of Apple. Another type is a master brand such as Coca-Cola. Coca-Cola does have some sub-brands, such as Diet Coke, however most of the brands the company owns, such as Sprite and Odwalla, are separate master brands themselves.

Brand Audit

More jargon! The term refers to the process of assessing how a brand is perceived, what its strengths and weaknesses are, and how well known and regarded it is. An audit may also extend to a review of all marketing materials, advertising, communications, and corporate identity elements to see how consistent they are and how well they function to represent the desired brand image.

Brand Awareness

The measure of how well people in your target audience are aware of your brand and what it is about.

Brand Differentiation

See Differentiation below.

Brand Equity

The amount of "juice" a brand has built up, i.e., how well known and regarded the brand is. The more equity a brand has, the more valuable it is to the company or organization that owns it. When considering updating a brand's identity or messaging, or the marketing materials, packaging, etc., it is important to consider how changes will impact its equity.

Brand Essence

The fundamental nature or character of a brand. This reflects the organization that owns the brand, its culture, and how it does business.

Brand Identity

(Not to be confused with brand image). See Corporate Identity.

Brand Image

How a brand is perceived. The impression people have of the brand, and therefore of the corresponding company, product(s) or service(s). 

Brand Roadmap

Odd but helpful jargon. In a large company a brand roadmap can help to communicate internally the brand essence, the core brand message, and ways in which they are consistently communicated with the outside world. Some also refer to it as the "blueprint" for the ongoing marketing and branding activities.

Brand Strategy / Branding Strategy

Answers the question, how do we uniquely position a product or company to make it the most compelling and appealing to its prospective customers? This should precede all other marketing, including naming and corporate identity, as everything should flow from the brand strategy.


The process of discovering and then communicating the desired brand image. Since, as explained above, the brand lives in the minds of the marketplace, in order for branding work to be successful, it must be consistent with the experiences of the people who are aware of and have had contact with the brand. 


Also "B2B" and "B-to-B." The area of marketing and commerce in which a company sells to other businesses as opposed to individual consumers.


Also "B2C" and "B-to-C." The area of marketing and commerce in which a company sells to individual consumers as opposed to other businesses (natch).


B2i is the newest "B2" term. Synonymous with B2B, B2i acknowledges that when selling to businesses, you are really selling to people – individuals – something we have long said. (The lowercase "i" is used so the term isn't confused as "B-twenty-on3.")


An odd but standard term for the various marketing materials – brochures, data sheets, and such – that are used in the course of marketing and sales. 

Corporate Identity / Company Identity

The company logo or logotype and any associated type and graphics, and the consistent manner in which they are visually used to represent the brand, on stationery, marketing materials, packaging, website, signage, etc. Not to be confused with brand image or corporate image.


What it is about a company, brand, product, or service that makes it unique or more desirable than competitors. Differentiation is an important part of branding, and the differentiation strategy should consider how the brand is positioned compared to competitors.

Integrated Marketing Communications

A fancy term for marketing that takes into account all the different media and aspects of communications that should be considered anyway.

Internet Marketing

The part of marketing communications that focuses on the Internet and the World Wide Web. It may include email marketing, online advertising (display and/or pay per click), social media marketing, building links to your website, and so forth.

Keywords / Keyword Phrase

These are the words used in Internet searches. Most often searches are done using word strings or phrases, and these search strings are refered to as keyword phrases. When optimizing a website (SEO) so it is found in Web searches, likely keyword phrases are identified, prioritized, then included in the content on the site.

Landing Page

A Web page that is the click-through point for online advertisinig or other online marketing. Special landing pages are often prepared that focus on a specific keyword phrase or the offer the Web surfer clicked on.

Logo / Logotype

The logo is the visual representation of a company's or product's brand. Generally, a logo can be a mark, a symbol, or a logotype. A logotype, also known as a wordmark, is the company or product name in a particular style, customized font, spacing, color, etc.

Long-Tail Keyword Phrase

keyword phrase that consists of four or more words.


In a list of marketing terms, I guess "marketing" should be included. Marketing is the process of creating awareness of and interest in companies, products, or services. While some in sales says they are "in marketing," the two are distinct functions. Branding, advertising and PR are all elements of marketing.

Or, as humorist Stanley Bing puts it, "Marketing is the art of creating desire for something nobody knows he needs until the demand for it is created by Marketing."

Marketing Communications

The part of marketing that creates the stuff used to communicate the brand, the value proposition, and the offers, in other words, the ads, the brochures, presentations, Web sites, etc.

Marketing Strategy

Answers the question, how do we most effectively market this? What combination of messaging, media, visuals, advertising, events, etc. do we use to make our product/service/company memorable and desirable? Write that down and you have your marketing strategy. 


See Search Engine Optimization.


Perhaps best explained with examples: BMW is "the ultimate driving machine"; whereas Volvo is known as the car for people who are safety-minded. These are two very different positionings.

PPC Advertising

Short for "pay per click," this is online advertising for which the advertiser pays per click, i.e., each times someone clicks on their ad and links to the landing page.

Sales Funnel

A term that depicts the relatively large number of people who become aware of a product or service through marketing, narrowing down through the sales, decision making or buying process to the people who become real prospects, then customers. When a funnel graphic is used, it typically shows the steps along the way. The steps vary by product and industry.

SEO / Search Engine Optimization

Originally this refered to the process of writing and coding a Web site so that it will appear – especially, place well – in the search engine results pages (SERPs) for specific terms, or "keywords phrases." That is "on-site" search engine optimization, which is the original meaning of the term.

Unfortunately, "SEO" is also used to refer to several other activities, which can include the on-going creation of new content on the site -- new pages or page content updates, blog posts, videos, -- the process of building incoming links to a Web site, Internet marketing and social media marketing. As a result, there is a lot of confusion around the term.

The term can also used to refer to someone who does SEO work, a search engine optimizer.


Search Engine Results Pages.


Same thing as a trademark, except specifically for a service organization.

Social Media Marketing

The process of actively using "social media" such as Facebook, Google+, YouTube, Twitter, et al, to build product or brand awareness, customer engagement, to provide feedback, and even create "community" around a product, service or brand. The aims of social media marketing include reputation managment and building incoming links to a company's website.

Strategic Branding

(See Brand Strategy). How branding must be done. Branding work done without a great underlying strategy doesn't fly. 

Strategic Marketing

Marketing that follows a defined marketing and branding strategy (how's that for a circular definition?)

SWOT Analysis

A clever acronym that conveys part of the analysis of a company's or product's competitive situation, its Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, and Threats.


In marketing terms, any point of contact or communication with a customer or prospect. Any encounter with a company, product or service, whether in person, on the phone, by email, online, or through any media.


The legal term for a logo or logotype, i.e., a mark used in trade to identify a product or company.

Unique Selling Proposition (USP)

The literal definition is the unique benefit one product or brand offers that competitors don't (which is what make it unique – duh). However, it really refers to the product or brand's unique selling promise. Used synonymously with Differentiation and Value Proposition, it must be consistent with the customer's experience to be successful.

Value Proposition

Literally, what it is the customer gets for what s/he pays. The term is used to describe some unique value a brand, company, product or service offers that its competitors don't, or at least don't emphasize. Often used interchangeably with differentiation, it is one of the factors to consider when determining a branding or marketing strategy. 

Web 2.0

One of those "cool" terms that is batted around with little definition. It generally refers to the “second generation” Web, which is more interactive and participatory than the Web used to be. Most people use it to refer to sites such as Facebook and YouTube, where people can post stuff and others can comment. Some people are referring to "Web 3.0" to be even cooler.

Web 3.0

Even cooler than Web 2.0.


Another term for a logotype.


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