A well-informed employee is the best salesperson a company can have. E. J. Thomas

Brand Manager

An individual responsible for the performance of a product, service, or brand. The brand manager may also oversee a portfolio of brands, aligning them for maximum effectiveness; ensuring they aren’t compromised by tactical errors; and designing crisis management plans. He or she may report to a more senior member of the organization such as a vice president or chief marketing officer.

Conspicuous Consumption

The overt display of a consumer’s ability to afford luxury brands is called “conspicuous consumption.” The term was developed by American economist Thorstein Veblen and now relates to brands symbolizing a consumer’s status in society. Brands as status symbols have recently been extended beyond luxury brands to include icons embraced by brand loyalists, such as Starbucks and Adidas.

Consideration Set

This is the array of available brands in a category from which consumers can choose. Consumers form it in a rational and deliberate manner, focusing on the functional aspects of the brands. Once established, the consideration set remains largely stable and follows its own version of the law of diminishing returns where choice is impaired when more brands are added.


Consistency has two meanings in branding: first it refers to the implementation of a brand’s visual identity and tone of voice across all customer touch points. BMW is perhaps the best example of a brand whose visual identity and tone of voice is implemented consistently around the world – from the correct placement of its logo, to the correct design format of its dealerships. Second, consistency is a qualitative and quantitative measure of a brand’s ability to repeatedly deliver the experience it promises to its customers. For example, Coke’s product is consistent both over time and internationally, and Apple computers have consistently delivered a user-friendly experience targeted at the creative market.

Cooperative Advertising

This is an agreement between a manufacturer and a retailer to reimburse the retailer in full or in part for placing manufacturer-produced ads and commercials locally, with the understanding that their name will be included in the copy. Co-op advertising can also refer to a joint effort between two or more businesses to pool advertising money for more buying power. In this case, the ads would feature both company names and benefits. From a branding perspective, the quality and image of the two players must be commensurate and offer mutual benefit in communications.


After an issue or opportunity is presented, stakeholders, subject matter experts, and/or completely objective participants are organized to have a “brainstorming session,” a free-form discussion designed to achieve consensus about a solution and required next steps. Various methods of facilitation are employed to manage the process and its success often depends on the skill of the facilitator.

Benefit Segmentation

A method of dividing (segmenting) markets based on what individual groups want from a brand. For example, the market for beer might include a segment for light beers, another for dark beers, another for pale ales, another for imported brands, and so on.


A consumer is the ultimate user of goods, ideas, or services who acquires for direct use and ownership, rather than for resale or other reasons. The term also refers to the final decision-maker and, in this sense of the word, doesn’t differentiate whether a person is a current or potential buyer.


The obligatory behaviors that underpin the brand platform and values. These behaviors have meaning at the corporate and individual level and their adoption will ultimately determine the speed (and/or likelihood) of cultural change.

Category Management

Credited to Procter & Gamble, this system was introduced in the 1980’s as an improvement over brand management. In brand management, managers are very entrepreneurial and pay little attention to competition with other brands owned by their company in the same or related categories. On the other hand, category management broadens managers’ responsibilities so they are responsible for the category’s and the brand’s overall financial well-being. They manage cannibalization (see above), optimization, and cross-promotion situations.

Brand Tango

Brand Tango is a proprietary approach to consumer branding developed by Interbrand. Its intent is to generate breakthrough ideas by applying best practices from winning brands outside a client’s category to inspire fresh thinking. It is accomplished through the repeated and multiple pairing of brands in symbiotic, yet often unexpected, combinations. Brand Tango itself takes its inspiration from the Argentinian tango. The tango is a dance executed with passion and style, where each movement is carefully choreographed and the outcome of each dance is uniquely dependent on the interaction and synergy of the two individuals dancing. This makes it the perfect metaphor for an approach to innovation: inspired combinations of brands for breathtaking results.

Bottom-up Planning

This is when senior management request plans from more junior departments or managers for inclusion in corporate or marketing planning. The process is meant to inspire less senior levels to achieve performance targets since they are actively involved in the planning process. It is the opposite of top-down planning, where goals and objectives are set by senior management and are handed down through the ranks to be achieved.


A largely consistent set of written communications that is repurposed multiple times. Boilerplate is often used to produce collaterals or for frequent and similar responses to requests for proposals. Considered a timesaver and consistency tool, boilerplate is also dangerous as it may be overly generic or inaccurate for certain audiences and purposes.

Best Global Brands

This is an annual performance report on the economic value of the world’s leading brands produced by Interbrand employing a proprietary methodology. Expressed in dollars and as a percentage of market capitalization, the report ranks the top 100 brands using publicly available data on brands with values greater than US$2 billion and which have significant sales outside the country of origin. Public relations firm, Burston-Marsteller, conducted a study on which rankings global CEO’s pay attention to and the Best Global Brands was number three. Interbrand also conducts over ten countryspecific brand rankings including France, Taiwan, and Brazil.


Belief is a descriptive thought people have about a product, service, innovation, idea, issue,
company, or person – whether or not they’ve had direct interaction with any of them. Belief and attitude can be confused because they’re often used interchangeably, but an attitude is evaluative while a belief isn’t.

Annual Report

This is a yearly record of a publicly held company’s financial condition that is presented at its Annual General Meeting for approval by shareholders. It normally includes a profit and loss statement, a description of the company’s operations, a balance sheet, and a report from the company’s auditor and president. An annual report is designed for investors to understand a company’s current status and future plans. This publication often acts as a corporate brochure so the content and design are reflections of the brand.

Balanced Scorecard

A technique originated by authors Kaplan and Norton for measuring business performance. It
is based on evaluations of financials, markets/customers, internal processes, and organizational learning and growth. The model is being adopted and adjusted for brand management and measurement. The quadrants are adjusted to make it more specific to the brand or general communications.


A franchise is a legal contractual relationship between a supplier and one or more independent retailers. The franchisee gains an established brand name and operating assistance, while the franchiser gains income as well as some control over how the business is run.

Focus Group

This is a group of people assembled to discuss an issue, idea, or product. Focus groups are a staple of market research, and their success usually depends on the quality and experience of the facilitator.


This is the act of using an existing (and successful) brand name to help launch a new product or service into a new area or category. Since the original brand has strong, positive associations and high levels of awareness, the decision to use it involves risk, because if the new venture fails, it may tarnish the original brand.

Anchor Store

This is a major retail store that serves as the prime attraction for shoppers in a mall. There are often two anchor stores, placed at either end, intended to encourage large numbers of customers to visit the mall, and to generate traffic for all the stores in the facility. Mall branding can rely on the image of the anchor stores but runs the risk of overreliance if those stores were to leave that location.

Digital Brand Management

This is a response to the complexity and speed required to manage truly global brands. In the past decade, there has been a proliferation of digital brand management tools meant to control consistency and distribution of brand assets. These take the form of intranets, application service providers, and fully outsourced systems. Initially, this was simply the automation of traditionally printed brand guidelines, but the tools have grown to encompass image libraries, packaging templates, advertising templates, and so on. These systems work best in widely distributed organizations where many people communicate the brand strategy to audiences. It allows the brand to be controlled, yet also allows it to evolve as it touches the market. A leading provider of these products and services is BrandWizard.

Key Buying Influences

Many factors influence a consumer’s decision whether to buy a product or not. There are external factors like the group a consumer feels part of, a specific current situation, and the culture as a whole; internal factors like attitude, lifestyle, personality, and perception; and marketing factors, including the product itself, its price, promotion, and distribution. In addition, many of these facts are interconnected and work together to affect the ultimate buying decision.


A license is a document or agreement giving permission to do something on, or with, someone else’s property. Between two businesses, it is a contract in which one company is given a fee to provide technology, knowledge, or a product to another.


In a general sense, a lexicon is an inventory of words – a dictionary, for example. It’s the same with this glossary, except this lexicon is specifically an inventory of branding, naming, marketing, e-commerce, design, and communication words.

Jumble Display

A mixture of products or brands from different companies placed on a single display, such as a clearance table. It is this practice at retail that has driven many brands to provide their own in-store displays and product training to remove the risk of the brand being presented inappropriately.

Intellectual Property

Intangible assets such as a patent, trademark, or copyright whose value results from knowledge, discovery, invention, or creativity. Intellectual property can cover new products like software, books, reality game show formats, television rights to sporting events, or even a manufacturing process.


A lasting, but general, evaluation of an object. Attitudes may cover brands, products, services, organizations, advertisements, innovations, ideas, issues, activities, opinions, and individuals, and they are formed by what consumers hear and what their actual experience is.


This is when a company uses the power of one of its successful brands to support one of its new products entering a different, but related, market. Consumers have strong opinions about a brand’s quality, consistency, and value, which they often transfer to a “leveraged” brand. For example, consumers who are loyal to a certain computer might be willing to try that same brand’s new printer.


A genuine product is sold to a buyer in one market/channel and then resold by the same buyer into another market/channel, without the consent or authority of the brand owner, in order to take advantage of a price arbitrage situation. This definition also applies to parallel trade, gray market or gray market activities.

Investor Relations

This is both an activity and a department in most medium-to-large public companies. It provides existing and potential shareholders with accurate information about the company and its financial performance. This helps investors make informed buy or sell decisions. Over the past few years, investor relations departments have embraced the power of branding to appeal to the investment communities and more accurately represent the value of their companies and brands.


A differentiator is the aspect of a company, product, or service that separates it from the competition. It could be a performance difference (facts and figures, for example), or an emotional one (the imagery and associations of the company or offering). It was once thought that only one differentiator was required to ensure competitive advantage, but current thinking expresses differentiation as a bundle of multiple differentiators that, when presented in combination, provide true advantage.

Alphanumeric Naming

The practice of assigning letters and numbers to differentiate brand names among versions of products. These products are often related, and the alphanumeric system communicates a hierarchy of value and/or delineates product relationships. For example, models of cars often have alphanumeric names as evidenced by the BMW car naming system.

Generic Brands

These are unbranded products offered by retailers, usually at a lower cost than similar branded products. Initially, generics were given minimal packaging, advertising, and promotion support but they are now seeing more support and offering greater competition. Consumers have been educated that the quality of generics rivals that of their branded cousins, and larger numbers of customers are purchasing generics, regardless of the lack of premium associations.