Do you plan to work with a marketing agency this year to help grow your business?
Arm yourself with some knowledge! A lot of the prospects I talk to in my own business are scared of agencies. They either are worried they’re going to get ripped off or that they won’t understand exactly what the agency is doing for their business.
One of the things that can help you put your mind at ease and help you choose the right agency?
Learn a few marketing basics!
Each month, I’m going to be covering some marketing basics that you can use to not only understand how to market your business better, but will help you find the right agency to work with if you so choose.
This month, we’re going to be talking about Branding vs. Marketing.
What is Branding?
When most people think of a brand or branding, they think of a logo, maybe some colors, and your name. When an agency sells a “branding package,” they might include a logo design, font and color selection, print collateral, and an overall branding guide.
Branding is not just about a logo, though. Branding, in actuality, is about how your business makes someone feel when they work with your business.
Working with a lower-quality agency might mean that they focus mostly on your logo and colors. Working with a higher-quality agency means they help you to find your brand story, how a customer should feel when working with your brand, defining your brand voice, and creating everything so it can be consistent no matter where you customers meet you.
Of course, if a marketing agency is helping you to create and put all of that together, they’re going to charge a bit more for the entire package versus just creating a logo, so keep that in mind. But when your entire brand and brand story are cohesive, it becomes far easier for you to create your marketing pieces.
What is Marketing?
A lot of people misunderstand marketing. In fact, many of my prospects assume that working with me looks a bit like Mad Men, where an advertising agency is coming up with catchy phrases and strategies before they land the overall contract (keep in mind that in Mad Men, Don Draper was paid some sort of deposit before that work ever started).
Marketing, though, is different from advertising. Advertising is trying to get your message and your brand out in front of the masses and reach as many people as possible. Marketing, on the other hand, are the tools and processes that you use to promote your business and its purpose is to share a message that connects with your ideal audience. It’s a bit more precise than advertising.
Before you can start with marketing, you should establish who you want to talk to (deciding on your ideal customer) and what message you want to convey to them. When you know who you’re talking to and what you’re trying to say, it’ll help determine the where, how, and what a lot better.
Branding and Marketing Work Together
You should never start marketing before you’ve taken at least some of the steps to create your brand. Without those foundational pieces, you’re not going to create the consistent, memorable content your audience will remember. You’re also running the risk of confusing them all together.
Most businesses start out small and don’t have the budget – or the brand clarity – of giants like Apple and Nike. Just seeing your logo or a simple billboard from your company will not be enough to generate interest or even understanding of who you are. You have to work to create that understanding and build that reputation up.
Before you start marketing, take a step back and get some clarity around your brand.
Establishing Your Brand’s Purpose
Building your brand takes time, and a lot of digging into your purpose and what you provide your customers. I love these questions from Neil Patel in helping to establish your brand purpose:
- Why did I build this business?
- Why do I want to help out this specific group of people?
- Why does it matter to me that these things get done?
Once you can answer these questions, you can start working to define the nitty gritty of your brand. Not knowing these answers, however, can make it incredibly hard to flesh out a brand that your customers are actually going to care about.
Marketing is About Your Customer
Your customer should be at the root of all of your marketing. We talked a couple weeks ago about how they, are in fact, the hero of your brand story. Your marketing needs to center around that ideal customer and how your brand helps them.
By establishing your brand’s purpose and how it helps your customers, you can begin to put your customer first in your marketing efforts. If you haven’t done that as part of your branding and made decisions on who you’re going to market to, well, frankly, your marketing is likely going to fall flat and be a waste of money.
Where to Start with Branding
If you’re a newer business or you’ve never sat down to flesh out the other pieces of your brand, I highly encourage you to do so now. Getting clarity on who you help, how you help them, and how you want to communicate that help, will help you to build out your brand story.
Having that foundation in place can help you choose everything from the colors and visual style you want to what kind of brand voice you use and even where you’re marketing.
If you’re looking to have some professional help with those items, ask the agency if they just design a logo and provide a brand guide or if they dig deep to provide you a full brand identity.
Budget is definitely part of this, I get it. Resources like that Neil Patel article I mentioned above can get you a head start so you can go in armed with the answers and be ready to dive into things with visuals.
Most importantly, run away from an agency that tells you that a branding package is just a logo. That’s a logo design, and while yes, that’s super important for any business, it’s certainly not your branding.