This morning, I was reading an article on the Branding Strategy Insider blog, and the following phrase struck me:
Many marketing people are obsessive about the urgent work of competing rather than the more important work of creating.
What seemed to be conflicting here, was the fact of attributing both "competing" and "creating" to the same business function -- marketing. True, very often marketers are given the task of creating a product, as well as promoting it. But way too often, marketers deliver the vehicles of product promotion, and simply don't have enough time to reflect about creating new products, and new business opportunities. Except for some really lucky ones, of course.
In this respect, it seems important to point out the difference between brand strategy and marketing. I've done it already in one of my previous short posts, Marketing vs Branding, but I'll repeat it, because it nicely explains the difference between two very close, and in fact, complementary, functions.
Brand strategy, or branding, is all about knowing WHAT a company should say, what it stands for, and what kind of value it delivers to its customers.
Sounds too simple? Well, in fact this is one of the most challenging things to achieve -- knowing what your product or service is all about. Think, for instance, about your personal life. So many people spend years of their lives searching for their true selves, not knowing what they really want. In the business world, the task of finding out the WHAT is a little easier than in personal lives, but still, it's rarely a piece of cake.
If you've ever taken part in launching a start-up, you must remember the painful decisions about 'what exactly is our value proposition?' or, 'what exactly our product is all about?'. For many entrepreneurs bringing new products to the market, the WHAT becomes the decisive factor which can determine future success, or kill it from right from the start.
Good branding addresses the WHAT. Based on customer and market research, brand audit is done to pull together all the required bits and pieces of what can constitute the WHAT. Based on this, a brand positioning statement is crafted. In fact, your brand positioning statement becomes the most crucial element of knowing your WHAT. It's one of the most powerful aspects of branding, and if done correctly, it delivers amazing value. Why? Because, every positioning statement is (or should be) the result of massive work. It's a result of your analysis, creativity, market research and financials. It's your guiding principle which can help you make business decisions for several years to come. I spend quite a bit of time and effort getting my clients' brand positioning right, and it does pay off wonderfully.
Once you've understood the WHAT, it becomes so much easier to turn it into the HOW. And this is where the role of marketing kicks in. As I wrote in my previous post,
Branding helps you know what to say, and marketing provides the vehicles to deliver the messages. Just like a politician will steer any question back to the handful of key campaign points, your brand positioning statement steers all advertising, website content, brochures, public relations, and face-to-face selling to your firms competitive advantages.
If you are ready for the challenge to uncover your product's WHAT, the HOW will be such an easier task to pursue.