The Basics of Branding

To those new to entrepreneurship and marketing, branding can be very hard to understand. It can seem like a bunch of terms and color pallets mixed with a bunch of other stuff that can get pretty confusing if you do not take the time to understand the basics.

I get it! Until you are forced to understand it, there is really no need to even try to figure it all out. Why would you when you can just pay someone to do it all for you, right? Wrong! Although, it is a great thing to have someone help you with your marketing and branding strategy, it is just as important that you understand the ins and outs of branding so that you can effectively tell your story.

For longer than I care to admit, I would just barely understand when engaging in conversations about branding and all that it includes. It wasn’t until I took the time to study what it all meant, how it all went together, and how it could help me take my brand to the next level (and bring in money of course) that I started to understand what it all meant. Without doing that, I felt so confused, as I’m sure many others do.

I definitely do not want you to feel out of the look or confused as I did when it comes to branding, so I thought I would create a glossary of branding terms every entrepreneur should know.


I have said it before and I will say it again: A brand is not a logo.

A brand is much more esoteric than that because it’s not actually a tangible thing. A brand is the sum of all the experiences, tangible and intangible things that you offer to your clients that creates what your clients/customers feel and think about your brand.


When you look at the words “brand” and “branding” there is one obvious difference. The ending “-ing” indicates action. Branding is a verb. It’s the process of creating the feelings and emotions of your audience.


This may be where most people get confused. Many industry people call the visual aspects of your brand – logo, color pallet, fonts, patterns, illustrations, etc – your “brand identity”. But, to make sure you are not confused, we will call it your “Visual Identity”.


Your collateral are the things that you create for your brand that are a step further than your visual brand. They include your business cards, brochures, flyers, packaging, stickers, downloads, etc.


This is exactly what it sounds like: all of the thing that you pay for or the things that your brand strategist delivers to you are considered deliverables. These things can be tangible (business cards) or intangible (logo).


Touchpoints are the ways that you interact with your brand. It is the way that you get to the final product. For example, if your customer contacts you on Facebook, Facebook becomes the touchpoint. Same with your website, email address, phone number, etc. This also includes in-person communications.


How your customers’ ideas of your brand come together with all the brand touchpoints to create an experience that shapes your customer’s mind concerning your brand. The best compliment you can receive from a customer is for them to have a great experience. This is why all of these other elements are so important.


A mood board is like your brand’s look book. It’s a collection of pre-existing visuals along with examples of your color pallet, fonts, and other visual elements that you use or plan to use to define your brand. Most designers will start here and create your visual identity from this step.


Brand boards are like your brand cheat sheet. It is one page that includes all of the visual elements of your brand. Do not get this confused with your mood board. Your mood board is used before your brand elements are finalized. And, your brand board or style guide is used to hold all of the approved elements of your brand. This is a guide used to create guidelines as to how you can stay on track with your brand and lay out rules for where and how you use elements of your visual identity.


Your voice or brand’s voice is how you communicate with your audience and customers. This is all forms of communication from what you write in blog posts or status updates on social media to your bio, emails, newsletters, etc.


Your brand values are the 3-5 words that convey what your brand stands for. Things like: Honest, Accepting, Open-minded, Adventurous, Safe, or Understanding.


You may know this as the mission statement. Every brand and business should have one of these! Your mission is the “What” and “Who” of your brand. It is what drives all of your branding decision making in the present time. Questions to ask when developing your mission statement include:

· What do we do?

· Who do we serve?

· How do we serve them?


Your brand’s vision is the “why”. Your vision focuses on the future. It finishes the sentence, “I am doing this so that …..”. It is aspirational in nature and gives your overall business purpose. It allows room for your brand to grow and develop from where it is now. Questions to ask when developing your brand vision look like this:

· What is my end goal?

· Who am I aspiring to change?

· What problem am I solving for the greater good?


When thinking about who your brand serves, it is important to create Idea Customer Avatars. These are specific and go much more in depth than regular demographics. For these to be successful, you should include things like their dislikes, likes, aspirations, fears, etc.

These avatars are essential when planning out how your brand will look and your brand voice.

It is my hope that this list will help you feel better prepared to conquer your brand goals for 2020! Now, when the branding and marketing gurus start talking about their job and what it is that they do, you will know exactly what they are talking about!

Happy Branding!

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