According to Marty Neumeier, "Your brand isn’t what you say it is. It’s what your customers say it is. A brand is not a logo. A brand is not a product. A brand is not a promise. A brand is not the sum of all the impressions it makes on an audience. A brand is a result–it's a person's gut feeling about a product, service, or company. It's in their heads and in their hearts. A brand is your reputation."
Branding is the lifeline of your business. For your business to grow — or even exist — you need customers. In order to attract customers and make them loyal to your brand, your business needs strong branding.
Marketing is when you tell somebody to buy your product/service and explain why they should buy your product/service. It is something to get people to go to in the first place. Marketing is the activity, set of institutions, and processes for creating, communicating, delivering, and exchanging offerings that have value for customers, clients, partners, and society at large. You need it because it is the key to getting your brand message out.
Branding is always done first so that you can build a connection with your would-be customers. And it also gives your customers the chance to understand your company better. Hence, if you are able to make a meaningful connection with your customers using branding, it becomes extremely easy to sell your products and services through marketing.
If you are marketing without branding, you are missing the opportunity to build a long-lasting connection with your customers. Because only a long-lasting connection makes customers keep coming back to you.
If your final goal is to increase sales, marketing is the way you can increase sales. But if your final goal is to increase your customers, branding is the only way to increase your customers.
And hence, even in terms of importance, branding comes first, marketing comes later - despite the fact that both are crucial for success.
If you are not able to draw a clear line between branding and marketing, let’s learn it the athlete’s way. The performance on tracks begins only after a tough period of training. Understanding through the same lens, branding is the ‘training’ and marketing is the ‘performance.’
For an athlete, training has to be tougher than the competition. Similarly, for a business to reach new heights, branding has to be tough enough so that marketing can win in the competitive marketplace.
Beyond that, an athlete trains to deal with any challenge that may come by during the performance. The training helps in building his strength, skills, and confidence - that’s how an athlete’s personality is shaped. With the same effort, branding helps in shaping your business’ overall personality. It gives your business the confidence to market your products and services without any doubt or compromise.
An athlete discovers his core values and capacities during the period of his training. But the 'race' is the moment that gives him the opportunity to showcase his talents. Likewise branding is the phase which enables you to discover your core values. And marketing gives you the opportunity to showcase the same to your audience.
Injuries are common in sports. Athletes use the statistics of the most common injuries to find a way to prevent them. Branding is executed after in-depth research of market trends and target audience. The research data is applied to develop a memorable brand identity that reaches your audience in the most effective way. If you don’t care about how your company is perceived by your customers, your marketing has a high chance of failure. And that perception is taken care of by branding.
Based on the skills and strategies learned during the training, an athlete prepares for the uncertain game. He applies his tactics at the right time without letting the opponents know. The strategy, identity, brand communication built during branding helps your marketing in fulfilling the needs of customers with the right tactics used at the right time - and in the right way. In doing this, you prepare to evolve in the uncertain marketplace while leveraging Guerilla marketing - one of the most effective ways to promote your products and services.
Eliud Kipchoge, known to some as “The Philosopher” for his running wisdom is regarded as the greatest male marathoner in history. He is an Olympic champion and has topped the podium in 11 of his 12 races over 26.2 miles. Plus, he holds the world record for the distance: 2:01:39.
If you ask how he emerged as the greatest marathon runner, the efforts go back to his childhood days when he jogged 2 miles daily to and from school. But he shaped his personality as ‘the athlete’ with 15 years of quality training. His training is clearly geared towards the stress of a marathon race.
Applying Kipchoge’s philosophy you can make your every marketing move a long-term success with a quality focus on branding.
If you wish to understand the significance of branding from the ‘training’ perspective read Kipchoge’s thoughts:
“To run a big marathon and win, it takes five months. When I am on the starting line, my mind starts to think of what I have been doing for the last five months. I believe in my training. I treat myself as the best one on that line because...I believe in what I am doing in the last five months. I can run free and that’s what actually has helped me to be successful.”
“If you work hard, follow what’s required, and set your priorities right, then you can really perform without taking shortcuts. If you’re taking shortcuts, you can’t be free.”
...and marketing without branding is that shortcut.