Branding vs Marketing. Do you know the difference?

You’d be surprised how often the two terms are used synonymously! So, if you need a quick refresh, here you go.

Have you ever been to a party or out for drinks with some professionals and heard one of them say “yeah, our company’s going through a rebranding?” What does this actually mean? Is it safe to assume you’ll be seeing all sorts of new creative TV spots, billboards, digital ads, bus kings, elevator posters, online radio spots, transit ads, minute videos, street art, some grassroots or guerilla tactics, news stories and on-site promotions to name a few? The answer is probably; but only if the branding (or in this case the rebranding) has a marketing rollout.

The “branding” aspect of the above company rebrand has more to do with discovering and developing what it is about your brand that is attractive to the desired customer segment, and what value it will bring to them. It’s establishing a firm understanding of the true characteristics, values and singular attributes that clarify and differentiate your brand from its competitors. After all the research and introspection is accomplished, the development of a new brand identity can begin to take shape (a name, a look, a feel and an overarching message) that will ultimately portray these characteristics in a positive way that will resonate with your defined target audience.

If branding was akin to dating and you had a very good understanding of who your brand is, what your core values are, and who to best target for a long relationship, your branding would start at the affection phase. The affection phase is that period of time when a lot is learned about the object of your desire (target audience) and what you need to do to get noticed and ultimately win them over.

Let’s face it, your brand may not be like a Brad Pitt or Scarlett Johansson on the dating scene. So, when you’ve learned everything there is to learn about your primary and secondary target audiences, and you finally put yourself out there, you may have to test a few things in the process. You’ll need to try a few new looks perhaps (brand identity), work on your game (messaging), and figure out what makes you different, special and totally attractive (unique selling proposition) to this particular group.

Once you clearly see the best way to win your target audiences’ hearts and minds, it’s time to put the word out there in hopes of building your dating pool (market share). This, my friend, is where “marketing” comes into play. Marketing is utilizing the important branding information you’ve learned about your brand and your target audience to develop tactical activities to mesh with like-minded consumers, encourage trial, inspire consumer loyalty and support ongoing sales success. Marketing is getting the word out there!

If you believe your brand is the perfect fit for your target audience, let them know—constantly! Just like the dating scenario, interest in your brand can be short-lived, because, well, people are busy, fickle and the competition is relentlessly, brazenly and unapologetically coming on to your desirable customer. It’s up to you, and your brand evangelists to use every marketing technique in the book to stay on their mind night and day!

So, in simplistic business terms, “branding” is creating potential relationships by identifying who your brand is, as well as who would benefit most by utilizing your brand’s core values and offerings. “Marketing” is creating the need for your brand by taking all of this information and connecting your brand with the target audience(s) who are most likely to value and use your brand.

The strongest and most successful marketing programs unite branding and marketing. You have a better chance of winning the hearts and minds of your market if you truly know what your brand stands for. Then, it’s all about making them fall in love—and stay in love with you!

Contact Dan!

 

Does your brand have a personality?

Of course!

Like all of us, your brand does indeed have a personality. And much like our own personality, your brand’s personality can evolve over time. It can become more refined, relevant, smarter and savvy. It can also become safer, overly practical, cynical, and downright boring. Let’s hope the latter never happens especially in these technologically exciting times. And if it does (or has), it’s time to shake things up!

When developing a brand positioning plan for our clients in all industries, one of our discussion items is a brand personality test. As part of this test, we ask our sample of employees, from every level of authority within the organization, a few questions about their brand.

Our first brand personality question is; “If your brand was a car, what kind of car is it today and why?” We follow that up with “What kind of car would you like your brand to be in 5 years and why?” What we’re hoping to gain from this exercise is an understanding of general internal perceptions regarding their brand’s attributes today and what they would like to be known for in the future.

As you know, a brand is built from the inside out. So, getting this information is ideal for marketers in many ways. If there is a general consensus (or close to one) marketers will know if the internal brand perception is one that requires an overhaul or simply a few tweaks. In either case, what are the implications and is senior management prepared to accept this information and take action?

Here’s an example. In a recent brand personality test we gave to a local bank; the consensus of the staff was that “we’re a 1978 Cadillac Eldorado. We’re roomy, comfortable, classic, we have an 8-track tape player with a John Denver cassette stuck in it, we get noticed because we’re a dying breed, you don’t see cars like us anymore.”

So, what kind of car would they like to be in the future? “We would like to be a late model Cadillac Escalade. Roomy and comfortable for all yet tech heavy, with every imaginable bell and whistle. We’d also like it if people wanted to know more about us,” and say “there’s something interesting there. Can I come along for the ride?”

You can easily see the attributes of their current brand’s personality and the aspirations the staff has about how they’d like to be viewed in the future. Interestingly, both cars are Cadillacs, not Ferraris, Lambos, or even Mercedes. Reading between the lines, the staff clearly wants to be that dependable, comfortable and reliable friend their customers know them as, but they also want to be seen as very intelligent, successful, tech-savvy and a bit mysterious and alluring.

If their bank already has the structure and willingness to evolve, it’s now just a perception issue. So, as marketers, if we update the branding message with the desired brand personality, the bank will have to back it up with every touch point. If they say they will but aren’t 100% committed to change, they will remain that classic 78 Caddy Eldorado with the 8-track tape player and watch their competition fly by them in the fast lane.

For this bank, as it is for most, everyone from the Board to the tellers knows they have to reach a younger demographic segment to survive even 5 years. Competition is already lightyears ahead of them with messaging and technology. They’ve figured out a way to attract younger customers while not upsetting their important older depositors. Think of it this way, even the aging account holder likes a big, roomy Escalade. They may take a nap in it, but that’s okay as long as they are happy and comfortable.

Here’s what you can do. As a simple exercise, bring a sample of staff members of every level of authority, one at a time, into the conference room. Shut the door, take 15 minutes and administer this brand personality test. Make sure they know that this is an anonymous test, and that you’re looking to see if there is a general consensus. They may not say exactly the same cars, but it’s more important for you to ascertain the brand’s current attributes, as perceived by your staff, and what they’d like the perception to be in the future.

After you’ve compiled all the answers, and drawn your conclusions, you should see your current brand personality clearly and where you need it to evolve to. This information is exactly the stuff senior management needs to hear for future growth, attracting Millennials, sales, cross-sales, relationship-building and employee satisfaction. If you need some help reading “between the lines”, I’m just a phone call away and I’d be happy to help.

Contact Dan!

 

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