Monday, November 17, 2014

Why draw lines between a brand, branding & marketing?

Branding developed without audited
marketing intelligence may be wasted.
It is not uncommon for executives who finally bless a brand review do so as a necessary backlash to years of brand neglect. However, discussing Brand and Branding outside the context of an overall Marketing self-assessment is an exercise in the proverbial tail wagging the dog. If you can start the healing anywhere, start the process with marketing. Here’s why.

Historically, most in the small to medium business category are challenged to effectively manage their brand. With scarce resources, an executive who ignores the foundations of an essential marketing foundation squanders opportunity and a viable long term path to success in favor of short term flash and unnecessary risk. We’ll begin by describing the differences and overlap of Brand, Branding and Marketing, starting with the most visible (the Tail) and work our way through to the most strategically important (the Dog).

The word brand derives from a burning mark, a sign and a certification. In today’s narrowest marketing parlance, a brand is a logo. Virtually all who are exposed to our commercial world are fundamentally aware of the significance of logo as brand. None can argue against the caretaking of an identity, a logo design (or redesign) with attendant usage guidelines as a noble effort.

Lacking brand application guidelines or direction, well intentioned employees will populate their communications with every conceivable possibility for personal expression, causing employer mis-representations and contributing to market confusion. Symptoms of brand neglect include:

  • Abundance of logo tweaks and settings - simply because it’s so easy!
  • Tag lines that come and go with popular tides.
  • Corporate, division or department identities presented inconsistently with a logo creates an amateur impression of the company as a whole, does not instill confidence.
  • Sales channels that plop corporate logos willy nilly into jarring displays of affiliation, hinder more than help the desired effect of a stable relationship.

Today, in its broadest sense, a brand has come to signify everything an entity stands for, and thus begins the overlap and confusion with Branding and the over-arching Marketing function.

Branding is the act of promoting a company or product with distinctive design or advertising. The term Branding is a natural extension of activities associated with a corporate brand and requires extended creative attention and management. Why split such hairs? Beyond establishing a Brand, or a corporate mark, Branding also involves art and direction approved at the highest corporate level. Branding brings discipline to: graphic design, photography, illustration, videography, and all forms of content development to unleash a powerful gamut of promotions on a mission to proactively charge markets. The harmonizing of corporate Brand with Branding efforts results in effective market perceptions.

Marketing encompasses and supports all actions required to communicate a corporate value proposition to its target markets. As a science, marketing includes the identification of meaningful markets, their motivations, and response triggers.

A larger issue looms even as we have ironed out the finer distinctions between brand and branding. Consider:


Brand = logo = identity
Branding = Brand x distinctive promotions.

If we were to end our argument here at branding, essentially a multiplier of promotions, our branding activities would be unchecked.

So, we need…

Marketing = Branding ÷ value research

With the addition of Marketing to our series of equations, Branding becomes focused, directed at where and how it will do the most good, and Brand provides the essential market signature. An organization’s unique value proposition supported by an overall look and feel that is managed for consistency becomes that company’s brand

A brand as an identifying mark needs and deserves TLC. Branding demands more and therefore requires more information gathering to be cost-effective. A company has the best chance of success when its marketing; that is, information gathering and direction for how it is to be precisely communicated; takes the lead in sales operations.

Emil Walcek, President,  EJW Associates Inc.