I worked with a well-known niche manufacturer as a consultant for several years; helping transition it from advertisement-driven marketing efforts to a cohesive and unified brand identity with equity and increased market share. Through this process, I came to realize that many business owners/company executives do not have a clear understanding of what branding, marketing, and advertising are. Without a clear understanding of how each works (separately and together); many companies tend to underestimate and/or marginalize the value of what an outside consultant can bring to their business.
I decided to provide an educational primer to ensure that I was “speaking the same language” as my clients regarding the value of what I bring as a consultant; I consider education as a vital element for building meaningful avenues for communication. I see communication as the primary engine for developing strategies that will drive future business growth and longitudinal success.
The following information is what I have developed to avoid potential misunderstandings in the strategic consulting process.
“Branding is the message - Marketing determines the best way to broadcast the message – Advertising is a method by which the broadcast is heard.”
The more traditional set of definitions and associations can be stated as; BRANDING is STRATEGIC (PLANNING)– MARKETING is TACTICAL (METHODOLOGY) – ADVERTISING is a TACTIC (EXECUTION). In the last decade with the proliferation of communication technologies and their convergence (cellular communications have merged with internet information which has merged with broadcast media, etc.), new concepts regarding the power of brands, marketing techniques, and branding/marketing strategies have emerged; challenging the “strategic/tactical/tactic” paradigm.
I believe it is the overuse of “powerful terminology” in inconsistent and meaningless ways that has blurred the lines in the minds of company executives/business owners. This is the reason that many cannot identify the differences between a branding strategy, marketing strategy, and advertising strategy. “Strategy” is a word that is used for everything and if it is married to a word which has a very specific purpose and use the meaning is often lost or confused. Another issue is that branding, marketing, and advertising all relate to the communication of a company’s products and/or services but each has a different and specific purpose; it is easy to confuse their relationship with one another.
WHAT IS A BRAND?
Your BRAND is the collective name(s), symbol(s), design(s), terminology, that distinguishes your company and its product(s)/service(s) from the other companies in the marketplace which offer competing product(s)/service(s). It is YOUR IDENTITY – but more than that; your brand is an intangible asset that if managed correctly can become the most valuable asset your company possesses.
Successful companies understand the value of brand perception and they work with diligence to ensure that they protect their brand’s image among their customers. A good example is an experience I had many years ago as a consultant for a large auto-group in Hilton Head, SC – a group who owned BMW dealerships in the top economic MSAs (Metropolitan Statistical Areas) along the East Coast. While assisting with their branding strategy we began to formulate the various marketing tactics we would use which eventually led to the development of advertising campaigns (tailored to the consumers identified through our marketing research). It was at this point we discovered that BMW had very strict and specific branding rules. BMW had released a 150 page book with nothing but examples of what could and could not be done with their logos in cooperative advertising efforts. Their brand is well established and they’ve developed a firm set of standards that protect their brand and thus their brand perception.
WHAT IS MARKETING?
Your brand is an intangible asset because the value of your brand has more to do with how it is perceived and accepted – emotions evoked in your target market(s). A TARGET MARKET is a population of consumers which is defined by a set of variables/characteristics. The process of defining a target market through quantifiable characteristics is called MARKET SEGMENTATION.
MARKET SEGMENTATION is the process of dividing a broad population into subsets for the purpose of defining the ideal characteristics/qualities of the consumers/businesses/organizations that are the best prospects for your company’s products and/or services. Segment populations can be defined by geography, demographics, behaviors, culture, and psychographics. Additionally, purchase history by event (holiday shopper, etc.) and by benefit (benefit to the customer for purchasing) are two other categories of segmentation often calculated.
MARKET SEGMENTATION is now classified as a MARKETING STRATEGY. Regardless of the word used to classify a marketing process (tactic vs. strategy); it is used as part of a formula that determines how to best acquire positioning and growth for your company’s products and/or services. Establishing your brand among your target market requires strategy, tactics, and execution.
WHAT ARE THE DIFFERENCES BETWEEN BRANDING, MARKETING, AND ADVERTISING?
MARKETING consists of the tactics used to present, establish, promote, and reinforce your brand. Marketing can encompass activities that are inherently strategic in nature and execution; but marketing activities are designed for classification, identification, and delivery. BRANDING determines how products and services are marketed. The brand message determines who the audience is and the audience determines how the message should be delivered. ADVERTISING is one of several marketing delivery systems specifically designed to illicit action from the consumer.
MARKETING is research that provides the tools/methods required to identify, classify, and deliver the BRAND for the ultimate purpose of increasing BRAND EQUITY.
BRAND EQUITY represents the value of a brand in the marketplace. BRAND EQUITY is derived from two sources:
• Consumer Awareness – The percentage of consumers in the brand’s target demographic(s) which recognize the brand – the products and/or services associated with the brand, and the consumer’s perception of the brand’s value (comparatively against other brands with which it competes).
• Information Economics – The strength of a brand’s recognition and perception as it relates to credibility and quality among its target market(s). This drives the amount/value that can be charged for a brand’s product(s)/service(s) – especially compared to its competitors – also called price premium – this is an indicator of return on investment for branding expenditures.
A strong Brand Equity valuation is associated with the ability to: 1. Charge a higher amount (price premium) for products/services based on a perception of value associated with the brand. EXAMPLE – The brand Rolls Royce has a history of making some of the most desirable luxury automobiles that spans over 100 years. Despite having the highest yearly cost of operation and repair when compared against other ultra-luxury manufacturers; their brand is associated with the highest ratings in owner satisfaction and value perception. In fact the brand Rolls Royce has become synonymous with the highest quality and most exclusive brands in any category of business – e.g. – “This is the Rolls Royce of cameras.” - etc.
2. Ease in bringing new products to market:
• When a brand is established and has a high brand equity/value the barriers to entry for new products are greatly minimized or non-existent. This means that profit will most likely be greater for the established brand than that of a brand which lacks established brand equity.
• Fewer resources are required for marketing and advertising because the brand has an established history in the marketplace and enjoys a high consumer perception/value.
EXAMPLE – Exotic performance auto maker Aston Martin announced a limited-edition concept super-car; the One-77, limited to 77 cars in the production run. With ZERO advertising outside of showing a prototype at two car shows (and then allowing several automobile magazines to review the car) – all 77 cars were sold before the first car was delivered. These cars cost 1.15 million British Pounds each. That is the power of Brand Equity - £88.55M ($137.25 million US) in total car sales (for all 77) sight unseen - sold on reputation and a strong history of delivering excellent automobiles.
In conclusion, the ultimate goal of Branding, Marketing, and Advertising is to provide an engine for the long-term success of your company and they are all intertwined and connected as part of your larger business process.
• BRANDING encourages consumers to recognize your products/services and assign a perceived value which will build loyalty and instill evangelistic excitement (the desire to share their enthusiasm for your brand message and products/services with other potential customers).
• MARKETING identifies which populations are most likely to want/need your company’s products and/or services and the best means to reach these populations with your message.
• ADVERTISING is a form of marketing communication which prompts/motivates consumers identified and targeted by your marketing efforts to engage and try your products/services– it is a call to action.
FOR INFORMATION REGARDING HOW I CAN HELP YOU BUILD EQUITY FOR YOUR BRAND – PLEASE DO NOT HESITATE TO CONTACT ME!
© Copyright 2015, Jonathan Patrick Hyde, All Rights Reserved.