I have been working for myself in some capacity since the mid 80s. Marketing and branding are not new to me. Then I get to college and the whole concept of marketing got technical and messy. Even the definition of marketing itself…
…is confusing as hell. Does any small business owner understand it well enough to know what marketing really is? No. It’s why few understand that advertising is a form of marketing and not ‘marketing’
“Marketing is the activity, set of institutions, and processes for creating, communicating, delivering, and exchanging offerings that have value for customers, clients, partners, and society at large.”
American Marketing Association
What the hell kind of definition is that?
While ‘brand’ has been clearly defined and we intuitively know what a brand is, most of us have no clue what ‘branding’ is. The best definition I could ever find is something along the lines of ‘Branding is the act of creating your brand.” WTF? Rule number one in my 8th grade English class – NEVER define a word or phrase with the same word or phrase!
How do you explain to your clients, in a way they understand, how you will help brand them if you cannot define the term?
Then there is the whole concept of brand marketing. Good luck finding a definition for that one. I tried. For years! I need one. I speak and consult on using content marketing and social media marketing (hint… I’m going there next) to market brands. Who is going to understand me, pay my rates (I am not cheap, experience and results come at a price), and hand me the keys to make it happen if they (I) don’t understand the concept?
So, with no definitions for either concept, not at marketing-dictionary.org or anywhere else I could find, I decided to write my own based on several decades of experience:
Adding some clarification
I shared these definitions to a couple of Facebook groups. They earned the obligatory feedback:
“I’ve heard it is also what your customers say about you.”
Tamara Swinney Hanks, Hanks Designs
“…branding equals consistency as to how people see your business…”
Mike Willett, Unique Moments Photography
– Branding is not consistency. Branding is creating an identity.
– Consistency drives awareness reinforcing the identity.
– Brand marketing is how you create awareness through consistency.
– Brand perception is how others see your identity. If perception is at odds with how you want to be known, your marketing and branding face planted.
So why does this matter to a social media marketer?
Content and social media, when used effectively, are your most powerful tools for brand marketing. All 3 concepts are intimately entangled. For me, anyone really, to create results for you, to teach you how to obtain results on your own, a deep understanding of branding, brand marketing (website development, SEO… ) is needed. And it needs to be something which can be explained to clients in a way they understand.
This is why you MUST work with professionals, not wing it, not hire interns.
Footnote: A big shout out and thank you to my friend Bridget Willard for her help wording my definitions.