Some marketing lacks logic.
I’m being kind, here.
You know that saying about putting the cart before the horse? When you see it illustrated, it’s pretty clear that it’s a Bad Idea. That cart isn’t going to pull that horse anywhere and you will go nowhere fast. Even the horse can tell that something is wrong with this picture. “Cart before horse” is a sure recipe for a total lack of locomotion, if you know what I mean.
But, people do this in their marketing.
All. The. Time.
They get that cart all loaded up and climb on board. They look earnestly in the direction they are trying to go, whip in hand, and wait expectantly for the wheels to start turning. After a while, they wonder why they aren’t getting any closer to their destination. They may move things around in the cargo area to try and jumpstart their journey. When that doesn’t work, they might try a new coat of paint on the cart. They never even look at that poor horse, standing there, patiently waiting to do his thing.
Wake up! Branding is the horse that’ll get you (and your cart) to the finish line.
I recently read an article that made my head spin. Brand specialist and brand identity expert David Brier (@davidbrier – follow him) got tired of listening to the debate about social media vs. branding. To settle the smackdown, he compared the Google search frequency of three terms: “brand strategy,” “social media,” and “branding.”
Do you want to take a guess at the results?
“Social Media averaged around 80 on Google’s chart whereas branding came in around 20 and brand strategy was near 0 (zero) by comparison.”
A cart is just a vehicle. Social media is just a channel.
- A cart (or any other vehicle) without an engine is nothing but a big (expensive) paperweight.
- A marketing channel without a strategic branding message is nothing but a big (expensive) budgetary black hole.
Putting your marketing cart before your branding horse means you’re opening your mouth before you know what you want to say.
The correct order of things is horse and then cart: brand message and then marketing.
Branding is how you discover and define the unique and differentiated essence of who you are, what you stand for, and the visual and written elements that help you convey that message.
Marketing is how you get your message in front of people.
Know what to say, then say it.
Put things in the right order and you’ll put yourself miles ahead of the competition.
Time and time again companies skip over brand development (or give it a very superficial treatment) and dive straight into marketing. They start talking without thinking through what they want to say. They pile up all kinds of content in their cart, but they have no way to drive it home in the minds of their audience.
If you are willing to invest in brand development and brand strategy, you will immediately leave half your competition in the dust.
Doesn’t that sound like a good place to be?
And just because it’s loads of fun (and makes its point with clarity and hilarity), here’s the video David did for Fast Company around the importance of branding and the fact that social media is just a channel. You’re welcome.
You might also be interested in:
- Branding is NOT optional – Part 1: A cautionary tale
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