NOTE: The content of this blog represents my personal opinion.
One of the things that marketers who operate in the digital realm have been trying to do for a few years now is to re-define the concept of branding to suit their purposes. To a lot of these people who have a vested interest in managing online marketing programs for basically anyone and everyone, branding is pretty much all about the level of ‘engagement’ that you are able to achieve. In other words your brand is your knowledge and how effectively you communicate it to anybody who happens to be passing through.
If that sounds a bit vague, that’s because, eureka! it is. But then again, consider the source. These are people who are trying to get you to spend a great deal of time, dollars and intellectual capital displaying your expertise in, what by normal communications standards, would be considered a fairly obtuse way. They don’t want you to sell directly, because they feel that will turn people off…but truth be told, selling directly will also shorten the process and be a much more efficient way for you to decide what works for your business and what doesn’t.
In creating this particular definition of branding, they have also created a huge fissure between traditional branding and this engagement focused stuff. Now I’m not denying that there is a place for this aspect of branding in any marketing mix. But any digital marketer who is being honest with you will tell you that the ROI on this sort of activity is extremely small, and the time frame required to achieve any ROI at all is extremely wide. But then again, this area of marketing is, in the words of my friend and digital marketer (Barbara Munshaw) more a commitment than it is a campaign or marketing program. Barb has is right, in my opinion.
Branding is a promise to your customer. A promise that you will deliver a consistently high quality product or service. That you will stand behind that product or service. And you will be constantly working to improve it.
Branding can be expressed in a number of different ways.
- Your company logo and positioning and corporate identity, which are designed to communicate and reinforce that promise.
- Your advertising (on and off line) which persuades your prospects that your promise in one worth considering.
- Your web site which, explains in depth how you deliver on your promise.
- And finally, your ongoing communications (blogging, business media posts, white papers etc), which reinforce all of the aforementioned by demonstrating your experience, industry knowledge, expertise and vision.
The Big Mistake A Lot Of Growing Businesses Make.
Very simply, they do not, for one reason or another, include or really work to achieve a strong presence in all 4 of these components of their branding. This could be because of a built-in bias that they have, such as the belief that sales got them where they are and that’s what will taken them to the next level. Or this could be a matter of getting hoodwinked into spending the majority of their budget in one or two of these areas and neglecting the others. All you have to do is start cruising web sites to see this in action. Or it could just be a matter of thinking that they can do it all themselves, but because they don’t realty have all the required expertise, everything comes up short.
Branding is marketing. Marketing is branding. It’s a tricky business, and it’s one of those things that’s very easy to do wrong. If you feel that you could use some insight into how this all comes together, I have written a little ebook called ‘Small Business Communications For The Real World’, which is really a guidebook for businesses who want to brand and market themselves successfully.
You can download it here: http://tinyurl.com/nqlgtu3