Are you confusing branding with brand-building?

 

Two recent encounters reminded me of the unique role marketing plays in driving business growth – and how misconceptions around what marketing is still remain.

Attending the inaugural BrandMAX Summit in London, I heard a first-hand account of the story behind Yeo Valley's Rapping Farmers spot, which launched last year in the UK 'X Factor' finals. If you haven't seen it, take a look:

This was a great case study in brand-building. An impactful idea, built on a powerful brand purpose, with a fully integrated marketing plan – delivering significant, sustained growth.

Inspired, it reminded me of an article I read in the Financial Times which, while on the surface a positive endorsement for marketing, was nevertheless disquieting. The story covered examples of UK manufacturing companies who are embracing the opportunities of branding and using marketing to enhance their brand appeal.

Focus on the Brand, not a Platform

Don't get me wrong. We know global manufacturing is in decline (stats drawn from UN analysis suggest a global decline in contribution to GDP of 2% in the last decade). In the ever more competitive global economy, manufacturers should be applauded for looking to drive growth through leveraging their brand assets to engage customers.

What manufacturers need to avoid, however, is confusing branding with brand-building. Speaker after speaker at the BrandMAX Summit highlighted the continued need for brands to unearth a consumer insight and create a powerful brand proposition. Too often, it was argued, the platform – the main culprit being social media - is taking prominence where a big brand idea, creatively delivered, should be holding sway.

So, rather than focusing their efforts on creating a slick new website, manufacturers need to start with the fundamentals of marketing: a clear understanding of target customers and the unique value the brand is creating for them, reflected in an integrated plan to deliver the desired experience. To do this, manufacturers should look at the best from outside, but also from within, their industry and build the engagement and capabilities of their teams behind a brand-building programme. Otherwise, an updated website will remain just that: a standalone platform, rather than a powerful brand engagement opportunity.

In the same article, some manufacturers were said to be concerned that their traditional customer base might be put off by these new marketing efforts. Back to the Yeo Valley example: the apparently delighted response of diehard brand loyalists to rapping farmers should offer some welcome reassurance.


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