Your colleague sends you a breathless email: “The CBO is choosing an IMT to reorg the brand architecture from the bottom up. We’re refreshing our BHAG next week, and as soon as C-level signs off on our onlyness statement, we’ll start work on a brand avatar. Are you in?”


You could respond in several ways:
1) “What’s an avatar?”
2) “I’m not really an architect,”
3) “Could you please speak English?”
4) “Don’t call me a BHAG.”

None of these answers is likely to reaffirm your brand savvitude. However, if there were a copy of BRAND A-Z on your smartphone, you could quickly access these terms and offer an informed response. (FYI, a CBO is a Chief Brand Officer; an IMT is an Integrated Marketing Team; a BHAG is a Big, Hairy, Audacious Goal; and a brand avatar is a trademark that can move or morph. Simple when you know.)

Today, more than ever, we need to agree on our terms. Brands are built by armies of specialists, and specialists can only succeed through collaboration. Collaboration, by practical necessity, requires a common language.

Remember the story of the six blind men of Hindustan? They were unable to describe an elephant except through their separate experiences. “The brand is the product,” says the product manager. “It’s the features,” says the engineer. “On the contrary, it’s the company’s reputation,” says the VP of communications. “The brand is the tagline,” asserts the agency copywriter. “No—it’s the logo,” says the graphic designer. “Our brand is actually our culture,” says the CEO. Like the blind men of Hindustan, they’re all partly right, and all wrong.

BRAND A-Z is the first step in creating a “linguistic foundation”—a set of terms that allows specialists from different disciplines to work together in a larger community of practice. This new ebook is the culmination of 15 years of work: I published the first version in 2004, a second version in 2005, a special version for Google in 2013, and finally this new ebook. With each version, I doubled the number of entries.

I chose the ebook format because it allows the terms to be hyperlinked. Each definition is connected to others, so you can follow the links wherever they lead, building a rich tapestry of knowledge about branding and related disciplines.

Neither the terms nor their definitions are carved in stone; we’ll most likely find that many are malleable, some are fluid, and a few are provisionary as we co-develop the art of building brands. Happy browsing!

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