Have you ever experienced the disappointment of discovering that the reality of an attractive campaign was not as it was presented? Have you been captivated by a unique and revolutionary concept, and then were astounded at the poor realization of it?
Well, now you get it: one can be good at selling you a dream, but not so good at making the dream concrete. Not everyone is a professional marketer, so the blame does not lie solely with them.
We just want to provide you with some insights to see more clearly, help avoid these same mistakes, or even better, do the right thing.
In short, what is marketing? What is branding?
To begin, let’s define a few concepts to be sure we are all on the same page.
According to the American Marketing Association Board of Directors (AMA), 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.” Add to that, it guides all of the company’s actions to better fit, meet, and sometimes even influence the market needs in order to, of course, do more business.
Marketing is, and always will be, a precise science. People study it, earn degrees, become researchers, and speak at conferences about it. But keep in mind that marketing is always moving, and that’s what makes it tricky. A wealth of innovative and fanciful concepts emerge every day. Now that everyone has a voice in the marketplace, and has a plethora of means to promote themselves, we finally have access to the best content (or the worst), sometimes without having the means to assess its value.
A brand is the company’s DNA. The AMA says, "A brand is a customer experience represented by a collection of images and ideas; often, it refers to a symbol such as a name, logo, slogan, and design scheme. Brand recognition and other reactions are created by the accumulation of experiences with the specific product or service, both directly relating to its use, and through the influence of advertising, design, and media commentary." Branding exists to create its symbols, its inner value, and its meaning and insights. You want people to experience the brand in a specific manner.
Branding is sometimes mistaken with brand content, which is only what the brand says to the public through online social media pages. This is a very delicate piece of the puzzle. Now that many companies define themselves as the digital era / millennials / social influence experts, it is even more complicated to know who is the strategist, who is the branding expert, a mere developer, or a simple community manager with an overselling website.
What people usually do
For those who have raised funds or have the means to afford a proper ad agency, everything is fine.
For those with limited means (and there are a lot of them), it is tempting to try to do things by themselves. It is very easy to create a website, speak directly to potential clients, use cheap (or even free) stock photos, launch a DIY SEO campaign, and engage the community with semi-automatic tools. Just this week I discovered an app that automatically generates a brand logotype. It is not really convincing, but still, it’s there.
Some companies sacrifice the groundwork on branding for directly investing in social media and ad campaigns without properly building their brand fundamentals. They skip studying the competitor’s identities and their brand positioning, their effective selling features and arguments, and they don’t gather or experience the various design ideas. They miss a big source of inspiration that could make all the difference. They only fill in the blanks of an appealing website template and hope for the best.
Focus on authentic vs glitter marketing
What we see: The illusion can hold as long as the subject is not too difficult. Once the topic becomes specific and demands full immersion into a client’s universe, especially when it is a technical one (as there are abundantly in IT), there are only a few left. Not every professional can handle this level of complexity. As a result, the approach will be largely superficial. Sometimes, it can work, but often times it’s not enough.
There is a tremendous difference between complete marketing groundwork with an authentic vision and a superficial approach that adjusts its marketing actions to the bumps in the road.
What you should know
- Marketing strategy and branding are precise sciences, even if they require creativity, intuition and inspiration.
- Clarity is the key. You should understand what you buy when you hire a marketing partner. If what you buy is not clear for you, fell free to ask, you shouldn’t be ashamed of it.
- Building a brand with authenticity is the only way to get a sustainable community of followers and clients.
- It is worth investing in marketing and branding, as well as hiring talented people to do it, because once it is done, it will have a lasting impact on your company.
Three ideas to keep in sight to give sense to your marketing
1 - BELIEVE IN WHAT YOU DO
First, ask yourself, “Am I going to offer something to better people’s lives?” During a webinar last week, Sir R. Branson brilliantly confirmed this idea. Then, ask yourself this question: “Does your project have a sense of meaning for you?” You have to be sure that you are ready to commit yourself to such an important project that will consume all of your time.
2 - THEN, SURROUND YOURSELF WITH THE RIGHT TALENTS
One person cannot do everything. It is always better to benefit from the expertise of others. This is an efficient way to give sense to your marketing, and build a beautiful brand with a sustainable notoriety.
3 - LASTLY, BE CURIOUS
Look around. Read articles and familiarize yourself with the best practices. Take the time to look for tutorials if you wish. Enjoy the benefits of “One week, One tip” by CREAVILIA, that will provide you with inspiration and serenity on your journey toward entrepreneurship.