Marketing VS Branding

Do we, marketers, understand branding enough? I am not sure. And, if I am not sure, best of luck to explain it to an executive team. What is marketing then? This is too much for some people.

One of my team members share the below quote with me the other day. It says “Marketing is the equivalent of asking someone on a date. Branding is the reason they say yes.” This is very cool. I recently used a speed dating analogy to explain to my team of what we should not do – asking someone to marry you in the first date. I call all of our discount campaigns, a speed dating campaign. We lure customers in with cheap deals. Then, we sell them with our product.

Because the likelihood of that ‘someone’ to say yes I will marry you in the first date, our conversion rate is very low. The speed dating era has gone. Customers are very smart today. There are also a zillion solutions out there in the market. It’s arrogant to think customers have to buy just from us.

Branding is a long term investment. Yes, it’s unlikely you will get the results you want in a short term. However, it’s not an excuse why you cannot start doing it now. Branding is about building trust. I ask my team all the time – why should customers care about us? If we disappear, would they miss us? They are simple questions but hard to answer.


Building a brand with no budget

I work in marketing but I don’t have a branding budget. We have been talking about the importance of building a brand every year but nothing solid happens. In fairness, building a brand is difficult, time-consuming, and could be very expensive. It’s a long term investment that you may not see favorable results, in a short term, or at all. I gave up about fighting for branding a few years ago.

However, I have connected a few issues we are experiencing this year with the lack of brand awareness. So, I cannot give up if I want the company to be successful. I highlighted 2 points to the company about the important of having (at minimum) a positive brand awareness. Firstly, a clear and publicly known, positive brand positioning would justify a premium price. And, secondly, it would help increase our conversion rates.

The bigger question is – how can we do the brand work if we don’t have a dedicated budget? My answer is in Seth Godin’s Minimum Viable Audience (MVA) concept. It’s not possible to build a brand for the universe (the whole country or region). It would be super expensive and would take about 200 years. But, creating an ecosystem with the right groups of customers in there, it may be possible. At the end of the day, no product could server everyone. It’s a formula for being an average. And, that is what I am doing. I am pushing for an ecosystem and only invite the customers who we think we could offer them a holiday solution.