Merriam-Webster tells us that “branding” is something you do to a cow with a hot iron, but in business, we have a very different definition. BNET defines branding as:
"a means of distinguishing one firm's products or services from another's and of creating and maintaining an image that encourages confidence in the quality and performance of that firm's products or services."
A bit wordy, but it really gets to the point and accurately describes the overall affect, goals and purpose of branding. Robert Blanchard offers a simpler definition that really works:
"A brand is a personification of a product, service, or even entire company.”
Your brand is the face your company presents to the world. Make it great!
So how are branding and marketing related?
There has always been a great debate over the relationship between branding and marketing. At ImageWorks, we have always taken the position that marketing and branding are similar and engaged in a symbiotic relationship. A successful strategy will build trust and confidence, promote value surrounding your products and services, and draw in new and returning customers.
Over the years, the American Marketing Association has revised its definition of marketing to include the creation of value and relationships, things that were previously linked to branding. The American Marketing Association’s new definition of marketing is as follows:
New definition: Marketing is an organizational function and a set of processes for creating, communicating and delivering value to customers and for managing customer relationships in ways that benefit the organization and its stakeholders.
The older definition: (Notice creating value - Brand Equity - is missing). Marketing is the process of planning and executing the conception, pricing, promotion, and distribution of ideas, goods, and services to create exchanges that satisfy individuals' and companies' goals.
You can think of branding as the creation of a set of tools and media that are used for marketing purposes, while marketing itself is the act of putting those tools and media in front of the people who need to see them. Your branding tools will include everything from your website to videos you produce to postcards, emails, commercials, and social media properties, and your marketing strategy is every task you perform to get those tools into the hands of your potential customers.
To simplify, let's look at Jon Jantsch's definition of MARKETING:
"Marketing is getting someone who has a need to know, to like and trust you."
Marketing is acting, branding is being. With a well-integrated branding and marketing strategy, it's hard to say which one takes precedence in the success of a business.
Confusion in the word "brand"
Many of our customers come to us under the impression that a brand is no more than a logo or a tagline that people will associate with their company. Often, they think of branding as something only huge corporate entities do. That simply isn't true. Your brand is every single thing you do to create an impression about your business, products, and services. It's the whole package: your “Brand Image.”
Brand Image: A customer's perception of what a brand represents.
Perception is everything in the business world. As customers are presented with your marketing materials – brochures, emails, signs, trade show exhibits, web sites, Facebook posts, Tweets, LinkedIn profiles, advertisements, and even your employees – they begin forming an opinion of your company. With the right materials, you can create a positive image that will make an impression on present and future customers. With the wrong ones, you're likely to create an even more memorable negative impression. That's why brand strategy is so important!
A successful branding program is multidimensional, emphasizing the total customer experience. It's easy to lose focus by concentrating on one marketing project at a time, losing site of the total package. Careful planning is needed to keep your brand moving forward in every aspect. Your brand must convince your prospects that you are the clear-cut choice to fulfill their expectations. The result: a tremendous advantage when it comes to creating relationships, sales, and conversions.
Whether you're just starting out, building your brand from the ground up, or trying to re-brand an outdated corporate image, ImageWorks can help.
Request a quote or meeting today to learn how our integrated branding and marketing strategies can transform your business!