I spoke to one of my friends who is not a part of our industry. She said that she has a feeling that when she hears me speak about what I do, it’s like I speak a foreign language. I completely agree with her, because I sometimes get annoyed with my colleagues and myself when we talk about branding or advertising.
To outsiders our branding language sometimes sounds like a lot of babbling. Terms such as synergy, repositioning, brand harmonization, and monolithic brands confuse people who are not part of the industry.
My wish is to simplify a small but important part of our branding lingo and I am thinking about simplifying the terminology for the clients who sometimes look at me as if I was speaking Chinese.
Let’s take it step by step.
What is a brand? A brand is an imprint or an opinion. It can be an imprint in the form of the story or images in your mind, on packaging and all communication.
The most demanding part of creating the brand is defining the brand positioning. If instead of saying brand positioning, we called it finding the right position or spot that would already be clearer. Brand positioning or the brand essence is the core of the brand, it defines what the brand is all about. In other words brand positioning answers to the question what is the brand. The answer should be summed up in one short sentence. Without this brand statement, the brand is out there roaming aimlessly, like a lost teenager trying to find his place in the society.
The next step is defining brand image. It answers to the question what is this brand like. The answer to this question is composed of three to four attributes. I have probably already annoyed the non-branding crowd with the term brand attributes. Brand attributes are nothing more that characteristics of the brand. My colleagues would describe my brand image as passionate, stubborn, and intuitive. These would be my characteristics if I were a brand or my brand image.
Sometimes clients have problems with what we call brand architecture. Brand architecture has nothing to do with the art and science of designing and erecting buildings. It should be actually called brand relationships, because it’s all about defining relationships between brands in the portfolio. I won’t go into explaining the differences between different models, but comment on their confusing names. One model of brand architecture is called House of Brands. These are brands with different names and logos that have a common “roof” brand. This could be called long distance relationship between brands. The example of this is Procter & Gamble who is in a long distance relationship with Pantene or Eukanuba.
Branded House is another confusing term and it refers to the brands that are closely linked together through the name and the logo. The example for this is Virgin or Harvard with its schools: Harvard Medical School, Harvard Law School or Harvard Business School. We could refer to this brand relationship as the twin brands.
Renaming a part of branding services is just an attempt to talk about branding without using the terminology that makes outsiders feel well, as outsiders. The point is to talk about branding without people feeling like you are babbling in order to impress them. Being down to earth and open is the door opener to outsiders as well. By simplifying the terminology we will create understanding and stop people making fun of us, so I suggest we stop the brand babble and talk simply.