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So what the heck is a marketing brand?

Farmers and others who work with livestock are probably tickled to hear how sophisticated we've all gotten with using the term "branding" today.

For centuries, the term has more commonly been associated with the past practice of using a metal branding iron to sear or burn an identifying mark into the flesh of cattle and other livestock. Nope, it's not the prettiest image to conjure up. But surprisingly, when you boil it all down, branding within the marketing arena almost means the same thing, although lots of folks who throw it around don't really have a clue on what it actually means.

In marketing terms, your brand is the identifying mark that has been seared into your business by your company's practices, quality of service or lack thereof, etc. It is the public opinion created over time - good or bad - by virtually everything that your company does. - Pamela Berry-Johnson

In essence, your company's brand is its reputation and it is what people say about your company when you're not around. And just as a brand can be supported, promoted and polished by a consistency of marketing efforts, it can also be torn down when your business fails to deliver on the promises that your company makes.

We all know those businesses that do an awesome job of promoting their services and advertising - whether you are a chicken wing shack, auto dealership, dance studio or web company. These marketing mavericks plaster their images and messages everywhere - radio, TV, billboards, online - and as a result, they often do a good job of luring new customers.

But when those same customers actually show up to cash in on the promises that were made - whether it is outstanding service, great products or low costs - many businesses stumble and fall. It is simply not enough to run around telling everyone how great your company is, then fail to deliver through poor service, horrible quality, slow delivery and other things that will impact your brand negatively.

The end result is that no matter how much money you spend on marketing, your BRAND will reflect what you actually demonstrate to the customer or clients who show up.

NOTE: All the marketing in the world can't make up for poor business practices.

Before plunging into a full marketing blitz, do yourself a favor and take some of those funds you planned to spend on marketing and promotions to brush up on critical things like product quality, staff training, and the overall customer experience.

In the end, it will pay better dividends back into the business ensuring that when you land a new customer or client, you will be able to keep them and they'll help spread the word about your company's great brand.

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