It is our aspiration to offer periodic insight on ways to expand your marketing efforts and brand strategies. We could also say to expand your marketing strategies and branding efforts. Redundant? If your impression is that we are being redundant or saying the same thing in a different way then this is written with you in mind. This commentary is about one of the biggest misconceptions and therefore breakdowns, in the pursuit of successful marketing.
We recognize that most people, including marketing professionals and brand experts, do not realize a difference between marketing and branding. However, to realize the difference and know how to effectively use them together is the equation for successfully helping your customers understand your value and what positively differentiates you within the marketplace. To understand BRAND is to understand what makes your business unique and why your customers choose you and/or others don’t. To understand MARKETING is to understand how to convey the proper and targeted message to attract consumers.
There’s an old joke that a cow’s brand is it’s return address; funny to some and lost on others. However, there is greater meaning hidden in this old adage. The brand emblazoned on a cow’s hide will tell a greater story not only about the cow, but the farm, the farmer and so on. Other farmers will recognize the brand as one of quality, health, stock and value or precisely the opposite. This is what consumers do with brand labels and road signs. We have a perception of a brand’s value based on our personal experience or word-of-mouth experiences. This is because, the truth and essence of a brand is every single thing associated with the company it represents. Unfortunately, it is commonly believed that your logo, color palette, signs and collateral are your brand and in fact they are, but only part of your brand. Your brand is also your location, customer service, price point, quality, an emotion and even a ‘vibe.’ Again, your brand is everything. This, of course, is why we, at Element say, when it comes to your brand, - ‘Every Bit Matters.’
You may think because you have a logo, sign and brochure that you have a brand, but you don’t. What you have are brand identifiers. These are the things consumers use to identify your product or service within the marketplace, but not the value they apply to your product or service. Your brand is the perceived value consumers associate with your business. Perception itself must first be understood. It is often thought that if we do certain things we will be perceived a certain way, which would conclude we control the perception others have of us, but this isn’t the case. Perception is what others see, hear or become aware of something through their senses. This is why the look, feel, smell, sound and flavor of your brand don’t merely contribute to your brand, but are your brand. They make up the brand experience.
Our previous piece about having fresh cut flowers in your branch is a great example of how to create a positive brand experience. Outside of residual word-of-mouth promotion, the flowers are not marketing, but rather enhancing your brand experience. Read: http://everybitmatters.com/stand-marketplace-custom-floral-arrangements/
Marketing, however is the message used to express your brand to the consumer. It is the story you tell about your brand’s product or service within the marketplace. Marketing allows us to promote and highlight elements of our brand through the various avenues such as social media, traditional media, signs, brochures, websites and personal interaction. You can have a brand without marketing, but you can’t market without a brand.
It is important to understand that developing the proper brand experience comes before the marketing. Once you have established and created the brand experience you want to offer your customers it can be prepared, packaged and delivered to them through marketing tactics. A well-established brand is more easily and efficiently marketed, but also realize that the best marketing in the world cannot successfully coincide with a poor brand experience. This is because, as we noted, consumers own your brand, you don’t. Despite masterfully crafted campaigns, beautiful artwork and Hemingway like headlines it will ultimately be the perceived experience of the consumer who will be the judge of what your company is about and with today’s technology of tweets, posts and online reviews this can be a very scary notion.
The original and what seemed like an obvious title for this piece was ‘Branding VS Marketing’ as a way to declare the difference, but branding and marketing, although different are not in competition, but rather cohesion. Success takes both, but it also takes knowing the difference between the two to succeed.
It is our objective with these editorials to offer you our insight on relevant and applicable ways you can build on your brand and promote your message. In short, we will offer ‘bits’ on how to improve your brand experience and ‘bits’ on how to market your story. Because as we always say – Every Bit Matters.
Article written by Brent Beckett for The Element Group.
Edited by Lyndsay Reese.