How to Decipher Brand Jargon

Understand the differences between a brand, brand design, and branding.

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If you’re a business decision maker, you’ve probably come across any number of the following terms: branding, brand positioning, brand personality, brand experience, visual identity, brand design, brand narrative, brand identity...the list of loosely defined “brand” jargon is nearly infinite. What’s worse is that these terms are often used interchangeably. It’s utterly confusing, even for us, so in an effort to provide some clarity, I’m going to streamline that list into the following three buckets:

  1. Brand
  2. Brand Design
  3. Branding

At Muse, we have a ton of experience in helping brands evolve at all stages of their development, whether starting from scratch or refreshing existing brands. And because each client is unique, each plan and approach is different. Understanding the following processes will help you feel confident that the brand work you’re getting is exactly what you need.


Repeat after me: MY LOGO IS NOT MY BRAND. But seriously, a brand goes way beyond the icon you associate with your name. And before you can have successful branding, you have to start by building a successful brand, which comes from developing a smart strategy and cultivating authentic connection with your customers. So much of your brand is reflected in your audience: their values, their needs. How you reflect those values and meet their needs should come through in your brand’s tone of voice, your story, and your internal-facing vision.

Our approach to establishing your brand typically starts with an in-depth discovery phase. We audit your current assets and conduct employee and client interviews, which helps us wrap our heads around what you have to offer and what makes you different. By asking the right questions, we’re able to create a framework your brand can grow into. The foundation of your brand is always centered on why you exist and why people should care. Not only does this help attract more people to your business, but it also provides clarity and a motivational rallying cry for your team members.


Brand design is the way you visually communicate your brand to the world. And again, it goes way beyond your logo. Think about all the seemingly small visual details and cues that you associate with brands — from the iconic Tiffany teal, to the font used on the packaging of your preferred almond milk. All of these elements are critical to creating a truly differentiated brand.

Brand design is made up of things we can see, including, but not limited to:

  • Logo or wordmark
  • Color palette
  • Typography
  • Image style
  • Graphic elements; supporting graphics

Even though we’ve been through the brand design process hundreds of times, we create one-of-a-kind design solutions tailored to your brand’s unique offering. Our brand identity guidelines show you exactly how to use the tools in your brand kit so you stay consistent throughout all your touchpoints.

Brand Design


When we’re talking about branding, there’s always a bit of alchemy involved. The process relies on the intangible — perception, feelings, and ideas, which are all inherently complex. Branding has been defined in lots of different ways:

  • The association someone has with your brand
  • The experiences your customers have with your business
  • One’s perception of a product, service, experience or organization

Just as perceptions and feelings can change over time, brands can and should continuously evolve. We help you make those shifts and decide where and when to apply your branding through various marketing channels. We also develop messaging and storytelling to help your audience connect with your offering, and we define your content marketing strategy so it lands with maximum impact.

Navigating the world of brand can be confusing — that’s why Muse is here to cut through the noise and provide your brand with exactly what it needs. Now that we’ve sorted things out, how can we help?

Discover our range of brand solutions.

About the Author

Kristen Pokorny is a Creative Director at Muse and leads our visual communications department. She possesses a range of creative design skills including creating within existing brand guidelines to building ideas from the ground up. With over 15 years of agency experience, she's worked with both large, global brands and small businesses. She’s well versed in the entire creative process, from sketch phase and lettering to final production.

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