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"What is a brand?" (and other Brand Related Terms Defined)

By: Stephanie Thornton, brand & website designer

If you have questions like "what is a brand?" "what is branding? "what is the difference between a business and a brand?" or "what is the difference between brand image and brand reputation?" then the following glossary of terms should help. In the article below, I use my knowledge and experience as a brand & website designer to define some common brand-related terms (as well as some branding terms I made up). If you resonate with the way I define these terms, you may want to check out The Brand Clarity Workshop, where do-it-yourselfers can get professional advice and guidance on how to design their own authentically unique brand that differentiates their business, connects them to more of the right people, and sells their offerings.

Keep scrolling to read all the definitions in an order that I think makes sense (where one definition builds on the next) or skip to specific a term using the links below.

Glossary Of Terms

An activity that a person regularly performs (not as an employee) with the intention of making some sort of profit. A business can also be thought of as an entity that is separate from you (whether it’s legally classified that way or not) that is created by you (solo, or in partnership) to facilitate and enable activities that are performed to serve a purpose (eg: purchasing or creating products and services and exchanging them for money).


Business:

The way that a business shows up and operates in the world — it’s how you present your business and offerings to people, and how your business does things. A brand is how your business and offerings look, sound, smell, taste, and feel (both tactilely and energetically). It’s not an option to “not have a brand”. Whether you pay attention to it or not, if you have a business, you have a brand — it just might not be intentional. Note: a business or company can have a “multi-brand strategy” where it has one or more “child brands” under a “parent brand”
umbrella. If a business is an activity or entity that facilitates an activity, then a brand is how that activity is done.

Brand:

The act of intentionally designing the way a business will present itself and operate (a brand) and then applying that brand to your business and everything that people experience from your business in order to influence or manage the experience, image, impression, and opinion people have of your business and offerings, as well as to attract and connect with ideal customers & clients.

Branding:

A term that is used at The Tenth House to refer to the combination of the energetic identity and purpose that you assign to your business and its offerings. It is made up of the defining characteristics, qualities, and motivating factors that inform, influence, and determine why and how your business shows up and operates in the world. According to The Tenth House method of brand design, once the energetic core of your brand is established, it is then translated into sensory brand assets which are used to communicate or transmit your brand via touchpoints and communication channels.

Energetic Brand Core:

The specific visible, audible, tactile, or otherwise tangible elements that are used to communicate the energetic core of your brand to the world. Sensory brand assets (also referred to in the design industry as brand assets) are the parts of a brand that can be perceived by the five senses and are used to intentionally present, communicate about, or market a business to the world. Sensory brand assets designed at The Tenth House are your energetic brand core translated into tangible form and are used as tools and ingredients in the creation of the touchpoints that radiate your brand and allow people to feel and know the unique energy, heart, soul, spirit, and purpose of your business. Examples of sensory brand assets include brand name, tagline, motto, voice, creative direction, colour palette, typography, logo, photography & imagery, graphic elements, textures, sounds, scents, and flavours.

Sensory Brand Assets:

The practice of transmitting and expressing your brand to the world. Brand communication is usually directed to your ideal customers & clients, but can also be used by your business internally with employees and stakeholders. Any time your business creates and puts something out that shows, shares, or radiates its brand, that’s brand communication. To engage in brand communication, a business uses sensory brand assets to create brand touchpoints that people can come into contact with, and chooses communication channels to facilitate the delivery of its messages.

Brand Communication:

Any point of contact that someone has with your business & brand. Brand touchpoints are opportunities for your business to deliver messages about and demonstrate its brand. Examples of brand touchpoints include offerings (goods & services), customer service, interactions with business representatives, advertising, physical spaces, websites, social media, live events, and any digital or physical branded materials (also known as brand collateral).

Brand Touchpoints:

The specific digital and physical goods, materials, or “things” that are created with your sensory brand assets, and according to the energetic core of your brand. The purpose of these materials is to communicate, promote, or reinforce your brand, and subsequently influence your brand image. Examples of brand collateral include business cards, social media graphics, jingles, videos, brochures, stationary, signage, posters, packaging, printed & digital newsletters, quotes, invoices, podcast covers, gift cards, media kits, ebooks, employee handbooks, branded mugs & pens, and other physical and digital items.

Brand Collateral:

The specific modes of transportation that can be used to deliver information. Whether you want people to receive a specific message, or you just want people to be exposed to your brand in general, you will need to use channels to facilitate the delivery and receipt of information. Examples of communication channels include websites and other digital spaces, email, telephone, television, YouTube, social media, radio, podcasts, digital & print publications, internal business documents, physical spaces, billboards & signage, and in-person interactions.

Brand Communication Channels:

How people view your brand (and subsequently your business). The perception, opinion, or lasting impression that is formed from experiencing or coming into contact with any of your brand touchpoints. Different people can have different perceptions or impressions of your brand & business, depending on who they are and what they have experienced from your business and any of its representatives. If you are clear and consistent with your branding and brand communication, you will increase the likelihood that people will perceive, view, and describe your brand (and business) in the way you intended. The more people agree on how to describe your brand, the stronger your brand image gets.

Brand Image: 

Similar to brand image, brand reputation is what people think and feel about your brand & business. Brand reputation is what your business and offerings are known for — it’s what people expect from your business, and is positively or negatively strengthened with each experience that someone has with your business.

Brand Reputation:

Quiet the noise
Find clarity
Design an authentically unique brand Communicate it to the world
Connect with more of the right people
Enjoy your version of success

The brand Clarity Workshop

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Get professional, easy-to-implement instructions and stragtegy for writing website content that radiates your brand, communicates clearly, and helps you sell your offerings — organized into a beginner-friendly step-by-step workbook.

The Website Writing Workbook

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