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Branding – what is it and why does it matter?

I’m often asked about the difference between marketing, branding, PR, sales and so on. Here’s how it works.

Branding is about understanding the kind of company you are. It begins with the business plan and is delivered through a company’s operational functions: finance, HR, marketing etc. Your brand is everything your company stands for and every interaction people have with it. It’s not just your logo – it’s the experience people have of working with you!lm-your-brand-pyramid

Your brand assets are bits of your branding that everyone sees: your logo, colour palette, strapline, stock images etc.  These are developed according to the decisions that are made as you think your way through the brand pyramid: your logo sits at the top of your pyramid.

To state the obvious, Marketing is about understanding your market. Understanding your clients and the market(s) they operate in; what drives purchase decision making; competitor activity and so on. It’s about taking your brand (see above) and putting it in front of the right people with a call to action: buy me, talk about me, engage with me.

Communications is about your website, PR, social media, events, email marketing and so on: communicating your marketing messages through the right channels. This is the nitty gritty of your marketing plan, the things you actually do and how they knit together.

Business development (sales) is about actually winning new work. Developing relationships, writing tenders, pitching and so on. In a professional services world, it’s often done by the fee earners, using the brand to differentiate themselves and with marketing activity providing a backdrop to their BD activity.

PR is about the media: providing good, useful content that other platforms (eg, news publishers or conference organisers) can use. I always recommend using a professional PR consultant who can help get the messaging right and put it in front of the right people at the right time. The contacts and market knowledge needed to do this well are immense.

Done properly, with your brand clearly defined and a marketing strategy in place, it all works together beautifully. Simple.

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