Skip to content


Terms get thrown around all the time in marketing meetings.  Branding. Positioning. Message.  And then, of course, you might find made up buzzwords like “linkativity” or the “possimpible” (a la Barney Stinson) that are trying to do the same thing.

Today I want to define and understand four key terms in marketing:





These terms get used so often that their meanings get diluted and mixed up.  And more often then not, it’s the supposed field experts who are diluting the meaning.



a plan, method, or series of maneuvers or stratagems for obtaining a specific goal or result: a strategy for getting ahead in the world.

In the world of business, your strategy is your game plan for business growth and success.  That’s all it is.  Your strategy might have several sub-strategies: Financial, Marketing & Sales, Business & Product Development, etc.  Your strategy might also have a short term version and a long term version.  Either way, it’s your plan to grow and succeed.

Branding, Brand, Brand Equity:


kind, grade, or make, as indicated by a stamp, trademark, or the like: the best brand of coffee.

The origin of the word brand is an Old English term for burning.  You can also think of it in terms of “branding cattle”.  Branding is the artistic science of creating the Essence of a business.  The Brand is what is created.  The Brand Equity is used to describe how much equity, or worth, the brand has in the mind of a consumer.

Your Brand has a lot of parts:

1.  Logo
2.  Look/feel
3.  Brand standards
4.  Positioning statement
5.  Mission (expanding upon the positioning statement)
6.  Message/Campaigns

When you hear that someone is re-branding, this should mean that they are essentially taking everything they’ve done with their company- the logo, the website, the look, the positioning, etc. and throwing it OUT the door.  They are starting over.  A lot of times, this term is misused.  Re-branding is NOT re-positioning and it is NOT creating a new marketing campaign.  Re-branding is risky, expensive, and not often tackled. Re-branding can cause you to lose all of your brand equity.  It’s a tough thing to overcome.

When you hear that a brand is going through a refresh, this means they are updating their current look, logo, and maybe slightly altering their positioning.  A lot of companies do this exercise to remain current and relevant to changing trends.  Refresh projects are less risky, less expensive and done a lot.  Refreshing your brand can help gain or solidify brand equity that can be lost over time due to changing conditions in trends & preferences. Very worthy exercise for any company.

You can also have a Brand Strategy.  This would be the game plan for developing your brand and increasing awareness and equity.  The Brand Strategy would be a sub-strategy of your Marketing & Sales Strategy.



mental attitude; stand: one’s position on a controversial topic.

A lot of times when you talk about positioning, you’ll talk about a positioning statement.  Positioning, or a positioning statement isn’t a slogan.  It can help create a slogan, but a positioning statement is more like a mission statement.  It’s a manifesto of who you are as a company.  Are you ecologically or environmentally friendly?  Are you hometown proud? Are you all about the product?  These are the types of questions you have to ask yourself when writing your positioning statement.  It is a part of your brand it should guide you in all of the marketing campaigns you create and the sales tactics you execute.

A positioning statement from a tax software company might be something along the lines of:
“Working to create user-friendly, accurate, and up-to-date accounting and tax software for the non-accountant.” (yes, this positioning statement stinks, I know. Don’t judge it too harshly)

The slogan, or the message would reinforce the position, but it should be easier to remember and more catchy:
“Software so easy we are putting accountants out of business.”



a communication containing some information, news, advice, request, or the like, sent by messenger, radio, telephone, or other means.

Your message can be a slogan, but it doesn’t have to be.  Slogans aren’t always effective at getting a message across.  What your message should do is give the consumer a call-to-action.  Messages in marketing can be:

– ads in magazines
– search ads online
– social media posts
– crm campaigns
– you tube commercials
– tv commercials
– etc., ad nauseum

Messages are everywhere.  Effective messages inspire the consumer to do what you want- engage with your product, brand, utilize your services, buy!  Messaging is changing ALL the time for a business.  During grilling season, a seasoning and spice company might promote a message that is focused on the array of grilling spices available.  They are trying to get a consumer to buy their spices, but the message they use to do that will likely be different than the message they use to sell spices over the holiday.

A message can and should be tailored to each campaign, but it should ALWAYS support the positioning statement.

Sample Hierarchy of Definitions

All of these terms should be inextricably intertwined.  Often they are not.  Many companies will promote a message without having a position or clear brand they are supporting.  The message might work in the short term, but the brand will never be built and in times where budgets are tight, you want a strong brand to help you ride the wave.

That’s the buzz in the biz…

No comments yet

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: