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The Bewildering Business of Branding Decoded

By Kathy, Senior Marketing Strategist

brand branding definedAsk a dozen people for a definition of “brand” or “branding,” and the odds are that they will talk about a logo. Maybe it's a trick question because the word “brand” can be a noun or a verb, or in the narrow context of marketing, it can have yet another meaning.

Compared to the retail and commercial world, hospitals, health systems and medical practices are relatively new to the business of branding, so some confusion is understandable.

But for the sake of clarity and continuing education we offer the following deep-dive into the marketing glossary and present eleven brand/branding terms that everyone in healthcare marketing should know.

Brand (noun)

  • a category of products that are all made by a particular company and all have a particular name
  • a particular kind or type of something
  • a mark that is burned into the skin of an animal (such as a cow) to show who owns the animal [Mirriam-Webster.com]

Brand (verb)

  • to put a mark on the skin of (an animal) to show who owns it
  • to describe or identify (someone or something) with a word that expresses strong criticism [Mirriam-Webster.com]

Brand (marketing)

  • the tangible and intangible attributes of a product or service which collectively can engender awareness, value and influence
  • name, term, design or other feature that distinguishes one seller's product/service from competitors or others
  • used to refer to a company, product or service that is strongly identified with the brand name or brand category


  • the art of aligning what you want people to think about your company with what people actually do think about your company. And vice-versa. [Jay Baer]
  • the process of extending tangible and intangible attributes to an audience to strongly differentiate the business, product or service in positive, meaningful and compelling way.

Brand Equity

  • the goodwill and name recognition that a brand has earned over time, which translates into higher sales volume and higher profit margins against competing brands.” [Business Dictionary]
  • the value of a brand and it’s worth based on the sum of all distinguishing qualities. [More Than A Name: An Introduction to Branding by Melissa Davis, Jonathan Baldwin]
  • the sum of all distinguishing qualities of a brand that results in personal commitment to and demand for the brand; these differentiating thoughts and feelings make the brand valued and valuable. [OVO]

Brand Experience

  • sensations, feelings, cognitions and behavioral responses evoked by brand-related interactions, contacts and stimuli by a brand’s design and identity, packaging, communications and environments.” [American Marketing Association]

Brand Positioning / Positioning Statement

  • a clear, concise, focused statement capturing the essence of a brand’s differentiation
  • a written description of the position that a company wishes itself, its product or its brand to occupy in the minds of a defined target audience
  • the specific niche in which the brand defines itself in the competitive environment; the differentiating brand attributes, user benefits and target segments, singly or in combination.

Brand Visual Identity

  • what a brand looks like, including, among other things, its logo, typography, packaging and literature systems
  • the way a brand presents itself to the consumer
  • anything that leaves a mental picture of the brand’s identity [Leo Burnett]

Brand Promise

  • consumer expectations about what the brand will deliver. The experience—good or bad — one can expect from a brand. It should be differentiated, relevant, credible and irreproducible [The Financial Brand]

Brand Awareness

  • the measure of how many people recognize a brand, either aided or unaided

Brand Indifference

  • a purchasing pattern characterized by a low degree of brand loyalty

We’ve discovered that marketing professionals, communications executives, and even some marketing and advertising firms can confuse these terms. So, if necessary, shake-off the notion that “logo” and “brand” are synonymous. And give us a call if you'd like more help in decoding branding's bewildering vocabulary.

Kathy Gaughran


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