Understanding the branding process doesn’t have to be complex. In fact, branding can be made simple, easy-to-understand, and easy-to-consume by entrepreneurs and small businesses. I am an advocate for clarity and understanding when it comes to any topic that I’m interested in. It’s also important to me when I make decisions for my business, whether I’m hiring a contractor/vendor, partnering with another business, or simply deciding what other investments I need to make in the business.

One of the things that bothers me when it comes to entrepreneurs who provide a professional service, is the lack of definition of terms. I’ve seen it first hand where some entrepreneur either make up words, or use certain buzz words but have no clue when they mean. If you want to know one tip to build a brand and make it easier for customers to buy from you, then define your terms using plain-English definitions. I believe it’s important for any services professional. Whether you’re a business coach, consultant, web developer, marketing strategist, attorney, real estate broker, insurance agent, graphic designer, event planner, or architect, it’s important to recognize that people are less likely to buy when they’re not clear or if they’re confused. The clearer you can be in talking about your business and the value you provide, the greater the likelihood people will listen to you.

As an example, when I used to consult with Fortune 500 companies, I was trained by my mentor to define “mission” as “why you exist”, and “vision” as “who you strive to be”. Why did we do this? Every C-level executive has a different meaning and understanding of just those two words. In order to gain consensus among a group of executives to define their company’s mission and vision, we needed to first build consensus on the definition of said terms. Then, this allowed us to do one of two things:

  • Accelerate the process and time to articulate and finalize each statement
  • Force us to focus on the higher-level concepts, by determining which words or concepts should be included (or not), based on the definition (not the word)

In the end, each statement was clear, concise, and impactful.

Three steps to put this into action in your business.

  • Step 1. Make a list of all the key terms that you use in your business.
  • Step 2. Write down a 1-2 sentence definition for each term. Avoid using acronyms, jargon, fancy words, or industry-related vocabulary.
  • Step 3. Refine, refine, refine. Run it by several people to “test” if the definitions are clear and understandable.

Because I practice what I preach, I decided to share my key terms that I use in my brand consulting practice. Often, these definitions are consistent with other branders’ definitions. Many times, they’re different.

Here are my 9 key branding terms (and definitions):

  • Brand. A desired (or intended) perception.
  • Branding. A process for creating and managing the desired (or intended) perception.
  • Brand Idea / Brand Promise. The strategic conceptual foundation for the brand.
  • Point of view. A distinct perspective on subject matter.
  • Brand Attributes. The key personality characteristics of the brand.
  • Brand Values The guiding principles of behavior that deliver on the brand.
  • Value Propositions. The key day-to-day benefits that the business and brand provides for its customers/clients.
  • Messaging Matrix. Key communication points that support the Value Propositions.
  • Proof points. Evidence, testimonials, anecdotes, or statistics that support the Brand’s Messaging and Value Propositions.