The follow series of slides created by Marty Neumeier brilliantly illustrate the difference between marketing, advertising, PR, design and branding – and how branding is actually the intended result of these efforts.
While these illustrations reduce the matter to a level of comical simplicity, they cut right through the BS and illustrate what these functions actually are.
The thing to realize is that branding is the main game, and everything else is subservient.
This is why Apple is so successful.
They don’t need to tell you how awesome Apple products are, because you’re already telling yourself (if you’re an Apple fan). Of course, they do still tell you to reinforce the brand, but the Apple brand is your perception of and commitment to Apple, not their marketing materials. The Apple logo is a symbol not only of their products, but of your commitment and identification with those products. If you’re an Apple fan, you see yourself in that logo – you’re “an Apple person”. That’s branding.
The Apple brand consists of everyone who identifies as an Apple user; and more specifically it’s their thoughts, feelings and perceptions of Apple and their products.
Their brand is why people will camp overnight out front of Apple stores to get the latest iPhone to replace the brand new one they bought earlier in the year.
Without Apple fans, Apple has no brand!
This is extremely important to understand.
What it all comes down to is this: all of our efforts in growing our business – all of our marketing, advertising, content creation, products, etc – all serve the purpose to build our brand. But they are mere props and suggestions, because our audience (and the world at large) are the ultimate judges of whether or not we are what we say we are.
Now, it could be argued that great geniuses are often ridiculed and rejected by their contemporaries, and that their contributions/ideas were indeed genius but people just didn’t “get it.” That’s a valid point, and indeed true genius is rarely welcome in our world, but if your goal is to create a thriving business, you better get with the program and realize that if people don’t “get it”, you need to change your approach or accept the fate of having nothing more than a passion or hobby, in which case there’s nothing to complain about.
It either resonates, or it doesn’t. It either makes sense or it doesn’t. They either “get it” or they don’t. Your job is to help them “get it” by changing how you communicate and what what you create.
You could create the most awesome product in the world, but if people don’t think and feel that it’s awesome, you will struggle and ultimately fail.
Conversely, you could create the most terrible product ever, and if people think and feel that it’s awesome, you will succeed.
What we want is both – quality in our creations (product) and our context (brand).
To further illustrate the distinction between marketing and branding, here’s a table of correspondences: