At The Social Brand, we know that there are two parts of promoting your business - branding and marketing. We guide all businesses to start with their branding efforts and once they have a strong branding foundation, then it's time to move into marketing. It's very important that you understand what these things are so that you can prioritize projects for your business.
We teach all businesses that the promotion cycle looks like this graph. Having a relevant image always comes back to your branding. Your brand assets (which we'll talk more about in a moment) are like the seeds of your business. But, just creating a brand isn't enough anymore. If you don't nurture your brand, it will never grow. When it comes to business, marketing efforts foster your business' growth. Marketing efforts are like watering those seeds you planted with your branding.
Your branding supports every facet of your marketing strategy and your marketing supports the brand and maintains a current image. Let me explain.
Let's start by first defining what branding is. Branding seems to be one of those words that has a million definitions, yet is still ambiguous. Why? Because everyone has a different perception of it. Meaning that branding can be everything and nothing all at once.
Entrepreneur.com defines branding as "your promise to your customers. It tells them what they can expect from your products and services and it differentiates your offering from that of your competitors." We love this definition. With this in mind, your brand assets help you communicate these promises and present these differentiating offerings.
One of our very favorite quotes is by a wise guy, Bob Camp, a business coach and mentor of ours. He once said,
Make your brand bigger than your company.
What does that mean? That means that the brand you have online (or in-person) should be one that enables you to connect with your customers, to grow your business and to be an authority in your industry (even if you don't feel like you are yet).
Branding, or brand assets, include things such as:
These brand assets enable you to grow your online presence and present a cohesive experience to potential leads, customers and community members about who your business is, what you stand for, the value you add to the world and can even help define workplace culture within your organization. For example, a solid mission statement would fall into this messaging piece and can certainly make a big difference. (Check out our recent blog post on writing a mission statement that doesn't suck by clicking here!)
Ultimately, what we want you to take away from this is that branding acts as the foundation of your company's promotion. The overall essence of who your company is should be communicated in your branding effectively. Once this foundation has been laid, marketing your company becomes easier and more effective.
Once you have a solid branding foundation, we can begin the conversation about ongoing marketing efforts. But, first, let's define what the heck marketing is. One of our favorite quotes about marketing is by Seth Godin, when he defines marketing as "the stories you tell." We believe this wholeheartedly. Once you have a brand, you'll begin telling different stories. There are a lot of different platforms you can use - but ultimately it's about telling a story and getting it in front of the right people in the right way.
You tell a story on social media about how you can help potential customers, you may tell a story in a podcast as you discuss what's happening in your industry and you may tell a story in a Google ad as you attempt to attract new visitors to your website.
Marketing efforts are comprised of things such as:
Now as your marketing efforts evolve, the customers your company works with change, and as time passes - the cycle begins again. This is because eventually your branding will need to be revisited... and this is why we call it a cycle. For more information about getting started with improving your brand or marketing efforts, click here.