Marketing Needs Branding and Vice Versa.

When start-ups meet investors, the conversation is often about sales, marketing and team. In too many cases, one key topic is neglected: brand. Yet, without brand, marketing is just a fart. Just like a brand without marketing is pretty worthless. In other words, brand and marketing need each other. 

Marketing is crucial for a company. But are we blinded by all the KPIs, Social Media, retargeting and endless automation possibilities? Do investors and entrepreneurs discard long-term thinking for short-term gains? Too often, numbers take the lead instead of discussing the position and role the brand could take in the market.

Start-ups and scale-ups need to sell products. Every company does to stay alive. But the brand needs to nurture sales. A brand is only good if it helps to achieve commercial objectives. A brand strengthens relevance, differentiation and sustainability. A strong brand supports scale and drives growth. Furthermore, your brand sets the tone for the entire company, ensuring everyone and everything is pulling in the same direction – both as a small start-up and an established company. When it comes to branding, the size of the company doesn’t matter. 

On top of that, 95% of all purchases are driven by emotions. People connect emotionally with brands that appeal to them. An important aspect worth remembering, especially with your story and design. In short, branding isn’t all fluff.

Why do we forget branding?

A brand can be an abstract subject to deal with, and it is often accused of being nothing more but hot air. It seems more difficult to measure than the classic sales targets. It’s easier to relate to your marketing effort and track ROI weekly, monthly or quarterly. Brand, however, isn’t a quick fix.

Les Binet and Peter Fields, the leading experts in marketing efficiency, recommends that your marketing budget is split 60:40 between long-term strategic branding and short-term tactical marketing. And this is where it gets tricky for marketing people. Most of them know the target for the next campaign by heart, but very few have targets for their branding efforts. 

So, what about the targets for your brand? What justifies your brand’s existence? What is your purpose in the market? Who aspires your customers to become when they buy your product? What is the long-term goal for your brand that each campaign, product and initiative support? These are more difficult questions to answer. However, they shouldn’t be. It should be something that permeates everything the marketing department does every day – without exception.

It’s not that marketing is useless or not as important as branding. As mentioned, marketing needs branding, and branding needs marketing. Luckily a recent survey shows, branding is also a top priority among CMOs. There is light at the end of the funnel after all. And good marketeers know they need to cultivate synergy between branding and marketing – and not just focus on the one.

Check yourself (before you wreck yourself)

What do you need to ask yourself to make sure your marketing and branding are aligned? And see if you have a unique brand or if you are just another on the shelves. 

– What is the big narrative we are telling as a company?
– Is it distinct? Is it credible? Is it sustainable/durable?
– Do our assets (design, comms, culture, etc.) convey this story?
– Where are we heading as a brand – what’s the journey ahead?
– Who am I targeting, and how would they cope without me?

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