Decoding marketing and brand jargon

February 13, 2023
B2B Brand design Brand delivery Brand strategy Marketing communications

All industries overflow with jargon. The legal industry. Professional services. Construction. Government. Science and research. Jargon provides a useful and accurate shortcut to communicate concepts or processes with specific meanings.

The marketing and brand worlds are no different. Yet in the absence of the need for specificity or accuracy (such as legal or scientific definitions), the use of marketing and brand jargon can become problematic for many clients. Brand ecosystem. Omnichannel marketing. Social media influencers. Brand architecture. What do any of these mean?

For a raft of clients and industry sectors, marketing and brand speak is considered at best a necessary evil and at worst, puffery. In an environment where avenues through which to engage audiences are forever multiplying– jargon also multiplies and compounds. New terminology is coined by compounding existing terminology, such as clickjacking or slacktivism1, and enters the marketing and brand vernacular. The adoption is swift: even buzzwords from 24 months ago such as digital disruption are now everyday vernacular in business.

All organisations engage in brand and marketing . Yet its vernacular to describe brand and marketing activity may be perceived as self-manufactured and devoid of concrete meaning. Often brand, marketing and associated vernaculars are either not understood or derided by those not in marketing roles. “Never mention the word brand” is an sometimes heard phrase for branding consultants when engaging brand resistant organisations.

So how can this vernacular be decoded in order to have substantial meaning? For those who are resistant, how can it be made real? As in all cases where confusion may cloud clarity, it’s best to go back to basics.

Here are some of the more common “brand” terms:

Brand – Brand is who your organisation is, what it stands for, and why a customer or client would select it over the brand and offer of a competitor. Seen from a different angle, brand is the disincentive for a customer or client to choose any other alternative.

Brand is more than an organisation’s logo. Many components cumulatively feed into creating a brand: the crafted customer/client experience of a product/service mix, the customer/client perception of that experience, the tangible and intangible assets required to create that experience and the positioning of the organisation in relation to a sector or competitive environment to create differentiation and advantage.

Brand architecture – The structure of an organisation’s brands and/or products/services to achieve maximum market impact, and, minimum cannibalisation where an organisation may own brands competing in the same market. Stated simply, brand architecture is the way you frame and go to market with your brands. It’s the way your brands are connected or kept separate in the consumer’s mind. Multiple brand architecture models can be applied and organisations need to carefully select an approach that will assist in maximising revenue and sustainability.

Branding – The active process by which organisations create and communicate their overall value and positioning via the development and protection (trademarking) of tangible brand assets (eg logo, tagline) and intangible brand assets (eg characteristics, attributes and behaviours) to achieve a specific position in a market.

Brand equity – The resultant comparative value, influence and impact of a brand in relation to its competitive set, and as evidenced by the loyalty and advocacy of its customer/client base and market share. Unto itself, a strong brand equity can be used as a brand tool to strategically further pricing strategies, positioning and competitive advantage within markets.

Brand experience – Arguably for many organisations, this is the brand. The positive and fulfilling direct interaction between customer/client and the organisation, and ongoing affirmation of that experience will define the brand. This creates loyalist behaviour; it creates advocacy.

Brand loyalty / brand advocacy – The ideal for any brand: the creation of long-term loyal clients disincentivised to pursue other brand options given their ongoing and vocal advocacy of a brand’s value.

1 Oxford English Dictionary

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