Building a brand & making it work
While most of us in the marketing world will agree that branding and marketing are two completely – but not necessarily mutually exclusive – concepts, we may not all define it the same way.
A brand, simply put, is the story behind the product or service, how it came to be and what it represents for its founders and, more importantly, its target users. To build a brand, a company will go through what is often called a branding exercise, where they may answer a series of questions, such as: What is your mission statement? Core values? Unique attributes?[i]
Marketing, on the other hand, is basically what a company will do – their activities and tactics – to continue to support and maintain said brand. A marketing plan or strategy is built and, while in most cases it’s for the medium to longer term, it should actually be flexible enough for the target users’ changing needs – which, in today’s world, can happen often enough!
Chicken or egg situation…
Maybe it’s experience or just straightforward personal opinion, but this seems like a no-brainer: the branding, whether it’s the chicken or the egg, should come first. More and more consumers are loyal to a brand simply for its story; social responsibility, country of origin, nostalgia and so many other factors are part of the reasons a user is attracted to a brand, even if it means paying a premium for it. The story (ie. branding) is priceless. The marketing tactics used, such as social media, content creation, ads, etc., are what will get that story out there, reaching their new and loyal users. The marketing is ongoing and constantly moving or changing, but it’s what’s needed to succeed.
A great example of this happened late last year when Gap announced they’d focus more on marketing tactics that continue to support their brand, thus building loyalty; before that, by not using tactics that emphasized and maintained their story, they were simply running in place trying to hold their market position. Adidas also recently made the same proclamation with their respective marketing activities and how they would use them to continue building up their own brand. [ii]
As we can see, even with well-known names like these, no matter how great the story behind a brand is, if there’s no on-going marketing activity to support it, no one will ever hear of it.
Learn more about Our Take on building a strong marketing strategy, “Building the right marketing strategy – it’s not just about the 4 P’s anymore” and “Is traditional marketing dead?” – up on the blog page.
[i] Outbrain [Beginner – 101] Branding vs. Marketing: Finding the Difference https://www.outbrain.com/help/advertisers/branding-vs-marketing/
[ii] CNBC (2019, November 22). Old Navy will shift back to brand-building in a growing trend among advertisers. https://www.cnbc.com/2019/11/22/old-navy-was-neglecting-brand-marketing-gap-cfo-admits.html