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Clarity On The Language Of Branding

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Clarity On The Language Of Branding

Regular readers of Branding Strategy Insider know we welcome and answer marketing questions of all types. Today, Lisa, a Marketer in New York City, New York asks…

“Hi Derrick, I am a longtime reader/subscriber of Branding Strategy Insider, I’m hoping you can give me clarity on the following brand management terms: 

“unique value proposition, brand triggers, brand benefits / brand attributes, primary brand benefit, brand essence, brand mantra, brand promise, brand personality (brand personality attributes), brand archetype, brand associations and brand position. 

Please also provide the meaning of each (what sub elements they normally include) and the difference between each.

Also, if possible, please include examples of companies (EG: what is the unique value proposition, essence, mantra, etc, of company X).

Over the years I have been exposed to many marketers defining the same things in different ways.”

Thanks for your question Lisa and for subscribing to Branding Strategy Insider. We have an industry filled with overlapping terms and meanings. Your question is common. Let’s take a close look at how we define those terms:

  • The unique value proposition and brand promise are similar. They both focus on the one or two key points of difference between the brand in question and other brands. Typically, these points of difference are brand benefits, benefits that are relevant, unique, compelling and believable for the brand in question. Brands typically focus on only one or two benefits and research has shown that people can’t link more than that number of benefits to a given brand in their minds. The first or most important benefit is sometimes referred to as the primary brand benefit.
    *The unique value proposition for Volvo is “safety.” As a brand promise, it could be expressed as “Only Volvo assures a safe ride to parents who care about their children’s safety.”
  • Brand essence is the “heart and soul” of the brand, its timeless quality, expressed as “adjective, adjective, noun.” Some people refer to the brand essence as the brand mantra, while for others, the brand’s mantra is synonymous with the brand’s tagline or slogan.

*Adobe’s brand essence: Accessible Creativity
*Disney’s brand essence: Fun family entertainment
*GE’s brand essence: Creative Responsible Engineering
*Nike’s brand essence: Authentic athletic performance
*Starbuck’s brand essence: Rewarding everyday moments

  • One usually talks about attributes associated with products. Generally, with brands, people focus on benefits or values. Brand benefits can be functional, emotional, experiential or self-expressive. Through market research, one can identify the path from attributes to benefits to values to self-esteem in customers’ minds. This process is called laddering.

*A self-expressive benefit of the Mercedes brand is that it communicates that I have status and money.

  • Brand associations are anything that people link or associate with the brand in their minds.

*People associate gambling and other vices with the Las Vegas, Nevada brand.

  • A brand personality is the composite of different brand personality elements. We (The Blake Project) focuses on 7 to 12 brand personality elements for each brand. A brand personality element is usually expressed as an adjective. The purpose of brand personality attributes to help personify the brand and to give it a distinctive “brand voice.”

*Brand personality elements include the following: trustworthy, innovative, reliable, friendly, rugged, wholesome, etc. We explore 57+ common personality attributes with our clients.

  • A brand archetype is the underlying archetype that implies the driving force or motivation behind the brand. With the brand personality, the brand archetype gives a brand a more human feel.

*Brand archetypes include the pioneer, the wizard, the scientist, the sage and the artist. We explore 22+ common archetypes with our clients.

  • Brand trigger is a term used mostly in Europe. It refers to anything that is associated with the brand that causes people to think about the brand. It elicits brand recall. Some people refer to a brand trigger as a brand mnemonic device. So, most brand identity elements (name, tagline, logo, jingle, etc.) are or can be brand triggers.

*The GEICO gecko is a trigger for the GEICO brand.

  • We often speak of brand insistence drivers. These five things – awareness, relevant differentiation, value, accessibility and emotional connection – drive customers from being aware of the brand to preferring the brand to being loyal to the brand to becoming advocates of the brand.
  • Brand purpose is how a company intends to change the world for the better. Its role is to unite customers and culture alike in the pursuit of that intention. It’s a statement of belief, of hope, of pursuit.
  • Brand salience is the degree to which your brand is thought about or noticed when a customer is in a buying situation. Strong brands have high brand salience and weak brands have little or none.

It seems fitting to also share the definition of a brand as there are fifteen accepted definitions. In my view it is the sum of all experiences a customer has with you.

We’re happy we could help Lisa. Now if we can just get all marketers speaking the same language…

Have a question related to branding? Just Ask The Blake Project

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Branding Strategy Insider is a service of The Blake Project: A strategic brand consultancy specializing in Brand Research, Brand Strategy, Brand Growth and Brand Education

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3 Comments

Arthurcvanwyk on November 08th, 2010 said

How important are the use of these terms really? My understanding of branding objectives have always been that it should translate into growth for the customer, be it clientele, products sold or brand equity.

Against the background of this, do we have to use all of these textbook terms?

Michael B. on November 09th, 2010 said

In simpler terms successful brand building comes down to choosing a positioning that will differentiate the brand from its competitors in the mind of the consumer. Make sure you have enough attributes to support this positioning over a long period of time and the rest is communication.

Love the blog.

Frank Martin on November 09th, 2010 said

One of the best and most concise explanations of branding nomenclature I have ever seen. Congrats!

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