A reminder about the most important branding secret: You don’t need to be a marketing guru to understand it

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branding story
A graphic exploring some of the concepts behind effective branding. Ultimately, client experience should be the priority.

Some people are quicker learners than others, and some learn some things quickly and others, not so fast. I think I fall into the latter category. There have been brilliant flashes, wonderful insights and great discoveries — but it aches me to think how long it can take me to get some simple concepts and ingrain them into effective business practices.

Take, for example, the basic marketing concept: Branding. Hey, I didn’t even know what that word meant until I had been in the business of selling advertising and publishing construction periodicals for more than a decade. This is in part because I discovered this business through my passion for journalism rather than business; the advertising revenue — the core of our business existence – at the start was a means to fulfilling the journalistic objectives.

However, that fact provided a clue to our business brand. Solid editorial content, well written and addressing the issues that challenge the industry, has (in the publishing business) real branding value. It is what we deliver that people want to see/read. And enough of the businesses/organizations wishing to reach the eyes and ears of our audience would be willing to pay for advertising (which is what we sell.)

You can see here in this context that advertising, in this case, is our product, but it isn’t our brand, at least it isn’t the primary part; the key is our ability to provide great editorial content and deliver it effectively, and provide our readers/advertisers an experience they believe is satisfying, rewarding and profitable for them.

The same applies for your business. Underlying everything, your product/service and client experience — based on professional, technical and entrepreneurial skills and your team of employees and external contractors — provide the experience that defines your business value and its branding potential. Marketing, done right, enhances and supports the underlying business; but unless you grant your marketing team authority to lead/guide and implement client experience improvements, you won’t gain much from any “rebranding” strategies.

Again, think to the root of your client experience and how you deliver value — and work from there. In some cases, your strengths may be obvious; but beware of the clichés. As I’ve noted before, if you think it necessary to say you offer great customer service, you don’t. If your customers (perhaps with light encouragement from you) describe their exceptional experiences in their own words, you don’t need to make that claim.

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