“Marketing is the means. Brand management should be the goal.”
We’re big fans – as we’ve discussed here recently – of saying that it’s not you who owns your brand. Your customers do. This brings with it some inherent challenges, as well as some growing contradictions with how we (agencies, marketers, etc.) have traditionally promoted products and services.
Indeed, the phrase “marketing” itself is slowly becoming an anachronism, as some of the biggest companies out there are realizing. Procter & Gamble, for example, made some waves in our world when it recently announced that it would no longer have a “marketing” team made up of “marketing managers” anymore; instead, the consumer-goods behemoth said it would now focus on “brand management.”
What’s the difference, you ask, outside of mere semantics? Aren’t marketing and brand management one in the same? To the contrary, and as the quote above helps to explain, they can – and should – be quite different in how brands view and approach them. Marketing, at its core, is about driving demand and creating actionable sales opportunities and leads. In essence, marketing is spending money to make money.
Brand management, on the other hand, takes a more holistic approach. It recognizes products as assets, ones with a longer arc of a life cycle that lasts well past the point of sale. It recognizes the story of a product and how it helps define it and make it distinct, in turn making it more competitive and appealing. Success in marketing? Defined by leads, sales, volume. Success in brand management? Those same metrics, to be sure, but it’s broader (and more intangible) than that, too. “The focus is less on how…and much more on why,” as the article notes.
The impact of marketing can be felt by helping to drive top-line revenue through sales; brand management strengthens the bottom line by increasing overall corporate value. You can market a product to no end, but its potential value in the eyes of consumers is severely limited if the value of the brand delivering that product is diminished in its perception and value.
The question, then, to ask yourself: are you marketing your products, or are you managing your brand?