When we think about marketing or branding, we often think about the same things. However, they are quite different from each other and yet help each other tremendously. The most important difference is every business has branding or a brand but doesn’t always have or do marketing.
What is a brand?
Your brand is always there whether we pay attention to it or not. Just like we have our personal brand, so does our business have one too. Our personal brand also influences our business brand tremendously, so does the personal brand of your employees and business partners by the way.
So what is a brand, like Marty Neumeier said perfectly:
“A brand is not a logo. A brand is not a corporate identity system. It’s a person’s gut feeling about a product, service, or company.” – Marty Neumeier
It doesn’t matter if a company has a logo or corporate identity, that gut feeling is always there. How we interact with people will influence that gut feeling about us. We can scale that interaction for our business to a lot more people. That scaling and interaction is our branding, and our marketing is one of the tools we use for our branding.
Branding is the active pursuit of influencing the gut feeling of people that come into contact with your business. We can influence those feelings in a lot of ways. Things like pricing, market positioning, your (personal) values and standards, your work process, the product(s) or services you sell, your tone of voice, location, culture, marketing, visuals etc. the list is almost endless.
Brand strategy is the key to help you make sense and guide that gut feeling towards your vision and goals for your business. It helps you to define the boundaries of your business and to give you and your business a purpose and a place in the world. Emotions and feelings are chaotic in nature, so setting boundaries will give that chaos a structure, a foundation. It’s both good for yourself and for other people, especially your target audience and clients. Gaining that clarity helps you to convey your message more clearly and towards the right people.
One important thing we must keep in mind. We will never be able to please everyone with our business. Not everyone will like what we do, and that’s fine. A beautiful goal for every business is to gain 1000 true fans. Those true fans are people that would give you money just for who you are and what you do, even without them buying your services or products. Those true fans are often also your best clients and main source of income.
Marketing as a branding tool
When we look at marketing we also think about sales, income/revenue and advertising. However, marketing has many different purposes. We can split marketing into a few groups but before we do that, one thing they all have in common is that they convey a message from your business towards people. That message is always linked to a goal. If we wouldn’t define or know that goal, then the message becomes meaningless and is a waste of time.
Something we also must be aware of is that marketing takes time. We can’t expect it to work immediately. We as humans just don’t work that way, we are skeptical in nature and need assurance from others or over time before we see the value and trust in someone or something. We must build trust first and keep that trustworthiness at an all-time high. To do that we need consistency and defined boundaries.
We can gain people’s trust in different ways, but the best way is with honesty and staying true to your own values, aka confidence. For sure some people will not like your values or your message that’s to be expected in a world full of differences. Just like we don’t like everyone so will other people not like us or better said they are “not like us, they are different.” The best we can do is to not pay attention to it, let them be them, and you be you. Think about those boundaries.
Marketing groups & tools
As mentioned, we can divide marketing into a lot of groups. I like to keep things simple and start with only 2 groups, which is inbound and outbound marketing. Or as I often say, push and pull marketing.
- Outbound marketing (push): This involves everything we actively do to contact people directly, such as cold calling/mailing/messaging, advertising, promoting, etc. We “push” our products/services towards them. The goal is always towards selling something.
- Inbound marketing (pull): This is everything we do to attract people to our company. Things like content marketing via your website and social media, also your SEO, public speaking, word of mouth, community building, etc. We “pull” people towards our company. The long-term goal is selling something, but mostly it’s about creating awareness and building a community/network around your business with the goal they market your business through word of mouth.
We also have a few things that fit in both categories such as newsletters, network events and business events.
So how do we use marketing as a tool for branding? We mostly look towards inbound marketing. By consistently creating content that fits your business values and goals, so you’ll slowly build trust, awareness and you are able to attract those true fans. If we also add value to our content, that really helps people, they are more likely to trust you and value you thus also buy from you.
Creating that consistency requires a good foundation, boundaries, and an identity. Having a strategy and creating that identity around your business is a tool for people to easily recognize you and your business. It’s also a great tool to stand out among the crowd and your competition, to be different by being you.
Influencing that gut feeling of people comes down to sending them the right message and leaving no room for doubt. Show your true self, be proud of who you are and where you want to go, make your business YOUR business.
Thank you for reading and we’ll see you in our next blog!