Here’s a dictionary definition for you!

The process involved in creating a unique name and image for a product in the consumers’ or buyers’ mind, mainly through advertising campaigns with a consistent theme. Branding aims to establish a significant and differentiated presence in the market that attracts and retains loyalty.

Okay, glad we got that out! How about you? Does that clear up what marketing and branding is? It doesn’t do much for me. How about my definition?

1)      Marketing is what you say about your company.

2)      Branding is what others say about your company.

The first uses a ‘push’ strategy to send out messaging that will hopefully resonate with its intended audience. The second uses a ‘pull-through’ strategy designed to get the intended audience talking and sharing about the brand they’ve experienced and love.

What most people don’t understand is that a branding campaign isn’t a paid activity, program or solution. It isn’t a phrase or slogan, and it’s certainly not a logo. It’s a life-long process that takes everyone in the company to make it a success.

The very great brands have all learned that it’s far more important what their customers think than what they think. Take any leading brand and give them a test. Does the market know exactly who they are, what they stand for, what’s great about them? The answer is a resounding yes in all cases.

This is not to say that you have to be a global brand to achieve this level of greatness. In fact, a company’s large size can easily get in the way of creating a great brand. Their multi-parts and divisions can easily muddle things up. Take Sony, for instance. Does anyone know who they are and what they primarily do? With thousands of products they have cross-marketed themselves out of the market. Yes, we all recognize the Sony logo, but as we all know a logo is not a brand. It’s a logo!

Which brings us to the simple conclusion that if you are working on building a great brand you’re working on every aspect of your company’s messaging and that includes your products, employees, systems, customer relations, vendor relations, and everything else your company touches every day. If you do that you can easily build a great brand, and not just a good one.

The alternative is to spend a lot of money paying for marketing in many different types of media to “get the word out.” That’s an expensive way of building a brand, and here’s a clue. If your company isn’t functioning at the same high level you’ve promised in your marketing the market won’t believe you. And that can become a very expensive way to build a brand indeed.