Advertising 101: Terms Anyone Building a Brand Should Know


If you run your own business, there is sure to be a time when you need to work with a vendor—a copywriter, a graphic designer, a marketing strategist, a business planner, and so on. I decided to create this list of terms to help you understand some of the most common terms in the advertising world so you can be better equipped when negotiating services, asking for what you want, and giving proper feedback. You'll want to bookmark this one, as you'll find it to be a great advertising 101 for you as you build your business and design your brand. 


ABOVE THE FOLD: The area on a web page before a visitor has to scroll. Your most important message should come across in this area.

BRANDING: The making of a brand and all that goes into it—from the voice of copy to the look of visuals. Branding encapsulates the entire message of your brand.

B2B: Defines businesses that promote to other businesses. B2C is when a business promotes to the consumer.  

CLICK THROUGH RATE (CTR): A percentage of visitors to your site who click on an ad in comparison to those who are only exposed to it.

CONCEPT: This contains the big idea behind a campaign or project. It is known as the driving force for the creative moving forward after being approved.

CREATIVE BRIEF: Consider this the blueprint for any creative project. This should answer who we are talking to, what we are selling, why the customer will care, and any mandatory information the client needs included. This document is what a creative team will reference throughout the process.

DEMOGRAPHICS: This defines an audience based on age, gender, income level, and geographic location.

FREQUENCY: This number indicates how many times a person in your target audience is exposed to your ad during a specific period of time.

LANDING PAGE: This is the page a visitor is taken to from clicking on an ad or following a link—this page should contain creative that continues the conversation from where they came from

MARKET SHARE: Percentage of sales within your chosen category

TARGET GROUP: The audience a business seeks to gain as they are considered to most likely buy their product or service.

VEHICLE: The term used to describe which advertising medium is being used to get a message out—magazine, website, radio commercial, social post, etc...

YIELD: A number that is calculated by taking the number of clicks on a banner ad and dividing it by the number of impressions received for the ad.



BLEED:  When a design (color or print) will print to the edge of the paper and not leave a border. For example: A business card that is all red to the edge would be considered having a bleed.

COMP: A mockup of creative or work in progress to get an idea across to a client.   

CMYK: Color mode that contains cyan, magenta, yellow, and black (key) and is mostly used for print.   

FONT: Is the graphical representation of text and has a particular size, weight, and style.

FPO: This acronym means “For Placement Only.” A designer will use this in a mock-up for a client to show work in progress usually, especially if copy isn’t done yet. Copy or an image may be used as FPO just as an example for reviewing purposes.

GIF: Mostly used in web design, it is an animated or static file.

GRADIENT: This describes when one color in design will fade into another, thus creating a gradient (from opaque to transparent)

JPEG: Stands for Joint Photographic Experts Group, and a good format to use when working with gradients 

KERNING: When you adjust the space between letters/characters in a word.

LEADING: Also known as line height, this describes the amount of space between lines of vertical text. Pronounced like “led-ing.”

PDF: Great format when sending materials that need to be printed. It stands for Portable Document Format and best keeps the integrity of the original design.  

PNG: Stands for Portable Network Graphics and is great for saving logos and imagery where you want the background to be transparent. Great for web work.  

PSD: The format used in Adobe Photoshop files

RESOLUTION: Represents the number of (DPI) dots per inch in an image, best for web is 72dpi, print is 300dpi

RESPONSIVE DESIGN: When a web design has been created to adjust for different screen sizes—desktop, tablet, mobile.

RGB: Color mode that contains red, green, and blue and is mostly used for digital

TYPOGRAPHY: How type is arranged stylistically, instead of simply being typed out. Used to make type more appealing.

WEB COLORS: Colors that are used strictly for the web and are indicated by a 6-digital hexadecimal code.   

WHITE SPACE: The area in design where there is no text or design, but simply empty space. Often this is left blank to bring the customers eyes straight to one specific part of the page.  

WIP: The acronym for “Work in Progress” is a term widely used to either verbally or in writing indicate that the work you’re seeing is still a work in progress.\



BENEFIT: The written piece that describes the result of buying a product or service. For example: The benefit of using a certain kind of shampoo is that it will leave your hair shiny and smooth.

BODY COPY: Defines the main area of text in a marketing piece. Most ads will have a headline, body copy, and then a call to action.

CALL OUT: A piece of copy that is designed to stand out from the rest of the creative. Some design element will draw attention to it—shape, color, etc…

CALL TO ACTION: This is the information that describes what you want your customer to do. Visit a site, call a phone number, text a message, etc.

DESCRIPTOR: A short line of copy to clearly describe what you sell—Colorful Greeting Cards & Gifts. Not to be confused with a tagline, which is described below.

COPY: Term used to describe the words used in any creative—web, print, video, radio.

HEADLINE: Short line of copy (no more than 8 words usually) to tease the information following it and to gain an audience’s attention so they are engaged to read more. It should peak curiosity.

SUBHEAD: Short piece of copy that follows a headline usually, to further make a point or to qualify a headline. Here’s an example—

Headline: Make it a Wow Weekend!
Subhead: Check out all the amazing events happening near you this Sat & Sun.

TAGLINE: A short piece of copy (normally not longer than 5-8 words, shorter is better) that describes the promise of your brand. It should evoke a feeling, and not simply describe your product (see Descriptor). Examples of taglines are, “Just Do It,” “Good To The Last Drop,” “Think Different,” and “Fly The Friendly Skies.”

USP: Unique Selling Proposition – something which the competition doesn’t have. This term was originally coined by American advertising executive and guru, Rosser Reeves.

 There you have it! A comprehensive list of marketing, design, and copy terms that will help you feel more confident in your business. As I coach and write for people through The Ok Workshop, I often come across clients who just don't know what to ask for—I want this to be the end of that. Next time you work with someone and ask for a creative brief, or to see a comp, or want to get a good tagline, you'll know if you're working with the right people. Now go get 'em!





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