If you run a business, you probably know what a game-changer good marketing can be. If you manage to get your products or services out there and noticed by the right people, your business can really take off.
Now, there’s a lot of resources out there that can tell you all about the latest tools and tactics that you can use and it’s all pretty helpful. But here’s a really important point that I think a lot of people miss:
You’ve need to have a brand strategy before you can develop an effective marketing strategy.
Let me explain.
How branding and marketing work together
There’s a great quote by designer Von R Glitschka which goes, “Marketing without design is lifeless. Design without marketing is mute.”
I like this quote, although when I think of it, I prefer to replace the word “design” with “branding”. After all, “design” is a really broad term that isn’t always intricately linked to marketing. And design doesn’t automatically make marketing lifeless. There is such a thing as bad design.
What I think Glitschka is really saying is that marketing needs to be supported by branding. In other words, marketing doesn’t just need aesthetically pleasing graphics, but a a meaningful and powerful message built on an understanding of what the business stands for. That is the importance of branding in marketing.
Branding gives marketing a story to tell and values to express. It’s the thing that draws an audience in after marketing gets their attention.
So, branding and marketing are two separate things but are very closely intertwined. They need to support one another in order to work well for your business.
Related post: What you need to know about branding and marketing
Finding your voice
You could say marketing gives branding a voice, in that marketing is what announces your brand to the world and gets it noticed. But not all voices are the same. The marketing equivalent of yelling and shouting can be an effective way to get attention, but it might not be the sort of attention you want. And just because a voice works for one business doesn’t mean it’ll work for yours.
What I’m saying is, you need to find the right tone in your marketing for it to have the right sort of impact. It should be consistent and recognisable to your target market.
The way you find the right tone is through branding. If you know your brand, you’ll know what feels “right”. Not every marketing tactic you come across will be right for your business and the way you can tell if something is a good fit or not is by understanding what it means to be “on brand”.
Here’s a story
I once joined the email list of a creative entrepreneur who sent fairly regular emails with updates on her main topic. She shared lots of great advice and valuable insight, always with a very supportive and relaxed tone of voice.
Then one time, seemingly out of the blue, she sent out a barrage of emails selling what I guess was a new product. The emails were completely different in tone, with a really high sense of urgency that didn’t sound like her at all.
A few days later, she sent out another email. This one was something of an apology. She admitted that because she’d been unsure of how to send more sales-driven emails she’d followed some marketing advice she’d found online and it clearly hadn’t been the right advice for her. I can only imagine she’d lost more than a few subscribers with her off-brand marketing.
Anyway, in this email she acknowledged that her audience followed her because of a particular kind of relationship she’d developed with them over time. She wanted to maintain that and was going to be more mindful of it moving forward. So in this situation, lesson learned and I’m sure the creative entrepreneur would have strengthened the understanding of her own brand as a result of the mistake. She definitely would have learned the importance of branding in marketing and how crucial it is to maintain a consistent tone of voice.
How should branding be applied to marketing?
I hope it’s clear at this point that branding comes before marketing. Before you can send out your message to the world, you need to know what that message is. That’s where branding comes in. You need to dive deep into why you have a business, what you want to achieve, and also define your brand foundation — your purpose, core values and brand personality.
Your brand identity (i.e. the visual stuff) comes into it, too. It helps to convey a coherent story to your audience and capture their attention over time. People don’t always take notice of something the first time they see it. In fact, when it comes to ads and other types of marketing, they rarely do. Sometimes it’s simply by repeating an impactful message over time that you can get through to your audience. A strong brand identity helps to link your marketing together with visual consistency.
There’s definitely no ignoring the effectiveness of marketing as a way to gain momentum with your business. But before you eagerly jump into email marketing, paid ads, social media and the rest, make sure you first have a solid understanding of what your business is seeking to achieve, what it’s values are and it’s tone of voice and personality. It’ll save you a confused message and wasted dollars!
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