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Key Branding Terms: Explained
What actually is branding?

Ok, so let’s start with the basics – what actually is branding? Besides a good logo design and visual identity, branding increases the value of your business, gives you direction and makes it easier to onboard customers.


For small businesses, your brand starts with your purpose – what you do and why you do it, but we’ll cover this in detail later. To create a successful brand, you must consider your business’s personality, values, voice and image to create the truest possible representation of your business. From here you can create a visual identity (your logo design, colour scheme, marketing materials and images) inline with your brand. These steps not only help you distinguish yourself from competition, they give your customers a very good idea of what to expect from you.

  • Get you noticed and create recognition
  • Generate new custom
  • Build trust with current and potential customers
  • Inspire yourself and employees

Key branding terms: explained

Just a little FYI, I’m not going define every single brand term under the sun here. I’ve picked the important ones and the terms that are useful to you as a small business. There are 101 other terms that huge agencies and corporate companies might use but I’m going to tell you the small business branding basics – the terms you need to know. Not included: the terms that will boggle your brain and not give you any useful insights at all.


Your brand identity is the view you want the rest of the world to have about your company and it’s character. While your identity will be mainly visual, this is not limited to your logo design – your brand identity is made up of your logo and imagery, colour palette, general aesthetic, tone etc. These elements should generally be developed with your target market and purpose in mind.


What the rest of the world actually thinks about your brand/business – customers will form their own opinions about a business’s products and services and how they are offered and delivered. If you have developed a strong brand identity, these opinions and perceptions should echo your business’s core values and purpose.


Human personality traits (creativity, warmth, imagination, etc.) you give your brand to drive customer connection. These traits are communicated to customers through your actions and communication like customer service and advertising.


The core of your brand and business – the values that you hold of most importance when it comes to doing business. The real feelings that connect you (and your brand) to the world. Values are also the things that you and your business stand for and are passionate about.


Some also use the term ‘collateral’, I prefer tool-kit as that’s exactly what it is. Simply put: your brand tool-kit is your go-to package of files for marketing and advertising. This can include, but is not limited to, any templates and assets like business card designs, email signatures and web and print ready versions of your logo. It is best practice to keep these files in one organised tool-kit that you can access anytime – this will boost consistency and ultimately make your life easier. When you create your tool-kit or your designer sends one over, and I cannot stress this enough, please please please don’t forget to save it and back it up, and then again whenever you update or add to it. Accidents do happen and your brand tool-kit is incredibly valuable to your business.


The way your brand talks – the words and tone you use while communicating with your customers and others. This can be over the phone or through written communication like emails and on social media.


This one is important – how you assist your customers says a lot about your business. You can increase your creditability by giving exceptional customer service and giving potential customers positive experiences.


A guide that conveys your brand’s standards and how will you apply them to stay consistent across all of your marketing and customer services. Your guidelines should be kept with your brand tool-kit.


A symbol, imagery, text or combination of the three that represents your brand. Your logo is used to identify your business. Your logo should be created with your brand’s values and purpose in mind and not your personal preferences.


Anything you do to promote and sell your products or services, including researching, advertising, selling and delivery.


The process of rediscovering the purpose of your brand and updating your values and identity. Creating a new name or image for your business or products to change the way customers and others perceive your brand.


Your people, your tribe. The people who are most likely to buy your product or services and the people you love working with. The people your marketing efforts are “targeted” towards.


What you have that your competitors don’t. For example: the highest quality product or the first-ever product or service of its kind. Your USP differentiates you from the crowd and ensures customers choose you over the competition.


Owner of GEM Design Studio and Founder of The Ladies Who Trade, Gemma is a graphic designer specialising in logo design and brand identity for small and independent businesses. Gemma loves cheese, fonts and supporting her fellow women in business.