There, I’ve said it. I’ll probably have my Ad Man card revoked, but if I can save just one small business, one start-up, one store owner from getting the “branding” pulled over their eyes it will be worth it.
In the history of marketing mumbo-jumbo the most wasteful term ever brandished about is “branding.” Marketing experts like to tout “branding” because they think it makes them sound smart. Small business owners buy into “branding” campaigns because they want to be like the big boys. And advertising agencies love “branding” because it’s like a free pass to do whatever they want, all under the guise of “branding.” No accountability. Low expectations. And don’t worry about any return on your advertising, your “branding” will pay off over time. Blah. Blah. Blah.
Here’s the thing. Unless you have the marketing budget of a Coca-Cola you can’t afford “branding.” At least not the way these snake oil witch doctors are using the term. You’ve got to make things happen. Today. This month. Now. Your budget isn’t big enough to spend getting people to think highly of you. You need them to act, to call, to come in, to hire you and to buy from you. Without selling anything you’re not going to stay in business very long, no matter how warm and fuzzy your brand is.
The kicker is, everything you’ve done – and are doing – with your business is Branding your company. That’s Branding, in bold-face and with a capital “B.” How you answer the phone, that’s Branding. Your product flyer, that’s Branding. Your “March Madness” sale, your business card, your website, the condition of the paint on your building… Branding, Branding, Branding, Branding!
Your company’s Brand is the sum of every communication, every interaction, every experience you’ve ever shared with your customers. It doesn’t just happen in your advertising. I say stop spending your money on “branding.” Instead keep building your Brand with marketing that moves sales, advertising that increases market share and personal experiences that make connections with your customers. That’s a Branding strategy you can bank on.