Although this can appear to be an obvious statement, there still exists a lot of confusion in the e-commerce world related to the definition of both terms. Without a clear understanding of how each relate to a specific business, the meaning can become mistaken. Even those that profess to be experts on branding and marketing can stumble over their own definitions, becoming stumbling blocks for anyone listening.
I believe the confusion begins when one considers what is being said about a business. In order to influence what customers say, we sometimes believe our clever marketing can tell them what to believe. Worse, we can fall for the lie that if enough people simply know about our companies, that increases the chances of more business. This just doesn’t work as a viable long-term strategy. At some point, the customer will look past the hype in order to see if the brand truly matters to them.
Every week I encounter a handful of entrepreneurs who have sunk untold thousands of dollars into marketing, frustrated at the return. They feel that they’re putting their brand out there in a big way, so how come it’s not paying off? Why are so many potential customers aware of the brand, and yet they’re not spending any money?
The answer lies in the fact that while marketing can create brand awareness, it does not automatically create brand equity. And yes, we’re talking about real dollars on the line.
Summer’s almost here, and you’re starting to see the big tent-pole summer movies arrive in theaters, precipitated by multi-million dollar ad campaigns. No doubt the marketing of these movies will be successful in getting butts in the seats, but that doesn’t speak to the quality of the film. If it bombs, discouraged viewers that gave it a chance will in turn try to discourage others from watching it. Anybody that sat through this cinematic atrocity may cringe at the memory of wasting their time. Thus, by losing value with moviegoers that extends past box office receipts, the movie has in turn lost its brand equity.
Some would argue that the above example is merely the cause of the movie being a faulty product. The mantra of “quality product plus effective merchandising equals success” has sunk many a business. If your brand strategy is built solely on the quality of your products, you have a big problem on your hands. Competitors can sell the same product or create a superior product. Invariably, by having an under-developed brand, you will have to compete more and more on price alone. If you’re limited by manufacturer pricing policies, you’re dead in the water if you ignore your brand.
Branding not only differentiates you from the competition, it can and should enforce a memorable and meaningful experience for your customers. While your brand should absolutely be tied into the product itself, it should elevate a mundane shopping experience into an emotional event. The more emotion that customers have invested in your brand, the more they will buy from you.
Great branding is the catalyst for great marketing. By achieving emotional brand resonance, your marketing strategy will be empowered. When continuity exists between strategy and creativity, the narrative between marketing and branding will delight and motivate customers to buy.