Brand v/s Business v/s Marketing

The age-old conversation. Brand v/s Business.

“Do I grow one, do I grow both? Why do I need a good brand, I should focus on my business? My business has a great brand. My brand value ensures business. What will my business gain from the brand? What will my brand gain in terms of business? If I focus on business, what happens to my brand? If I focus on the brand, what’ll happen to my business?”

Geez, folks, I’m tired of these questions. So before defining these terms, let’s do a poem to take the edge off.

Bobby the company owner,
Met Mojo his company partner.
Business or brand,
Brand or business,
Their conversation — disaster.

So they went their own paths,
Decided to follow their own hearts,
Business or brand,
Brand or business,
Both equal parts science, equal arts.

They jogged, they ran, they sprinted,
For days, months, and years.
Business and brand,
Brand and business,
Between them many a mile covered.

Turning to see their footprints in the sand,
They saw nothing — for they did misunderstand,
Business and brand,
Brand and business,
Alone stuck; they always go hand-in-hand.

There is no good brand bad business,
Or bad brand good business,
Business and brand,
Brand and business,
Get it right, and everyday company Christmas.

So, What’s The Difference Between a Brand & Business & Branding?

First, for the left brain.

Imagine a hot, sunny day in the desert. Your feet are scalding, your throat parched, the air drier than your parched throat. There are many people everywhere. Everywhere, blood, sweat, and tears. Now, what you do, how you do it, who you do it with, when, where, why, is your business.
Are you helping people? Great, your business. Are you concerned about adults and children? Great, your business. Have you figured out a way to capture water? Great, your business.

The shadow you cast, the one others find helpful, is your brand. The larger the shadow, the more people are aware of where that shadow is coming from as long as people look around. You may not have helped these people yet, but guess what? You’ve already added value. You’ve aided by being the shadow. That is your brand.

Positioning yourself for maximum shadow space; that’s branding. It’s what you actively do to increase the size of your shadow.

Coming to the right part of the brain, the supposed analytical-logical bit, your business is internal, and your brand is external.

All brands are an externalization of the business and its business values. All businesses are an internalization of the brand and its brand values.

Are Companies Better off Building a Brand or a Business?

This is the marketing version of the chicken and egg question. Which came first? The chicken or the egg? Which came first? The business or the brand?

Firstly, there’s absolutely no point in getting into answering this question. The fact is, there is both a chicken and an egg. Similarly, there’s both a business and a brand. Now, if you focus on just the chicken, you could sell it, but you’ll have an egg to show for it. Similarly, if you sell the egg, you have a chicken to show.

Game theory dictates that the win-win situation here is you sell both and still have both to show.

That’s how businesses and brands need to work. You could be a great business with nothing to show for a brand; a great brand with nothing to show for a business; but the win-win situation is to have a great business and a great brand while showing you’ve a great business and a great brand.

Both businesses and brands are incredibly complex structures and require careful planning.

It’s like a tree growing through tiny crevices and on the edge of a building. Think of a plant. The root network is incredibly complicated and very, very well planned, as are the leaves and stems and everything else. It’s all super complex and intertwined, especially at the top levels of brands and businesses.
Now, unless you’re working at that level, where I think you need to be both a business analyst and a brand analyst, mostly anyone can do both to an excellent grade for all companies. But the idea is to do it hand-in-hand.

This is not a relay race where brand activities pass the baton to the business activities or vice versa, no it’s a three-legged race, the brand and business are running together.

Tldr — For brands to grow, you’ve to do branding; and for business to grow, you’ve to do business-ing.

Where Does Marketing Fit in the Brand-Business Spectrum?

Marketing is essentially the coach for both the brand and business. Marketing is information central. It’s where business analysts argue with brand managers about why it’s their fault. It’s where brand managers argue with business analysts about why they’re the ones to blame. It’s where two rivers meet and create chaos in the water. And that’s the simple reality of it.

Here’s the thing, marketing is the only thing that happens in the market. And the market is a shared space. There are implications for both your business and brands, depending on the marketing.

Why? Because marketing observes people, it observes how people behave and react; it observes what someone is willing to spend on premium and how to convince someone about the premium-ness of something.

When in the market, marketers use the two skills I deem most important to be a great marketer, experiencing and observing. I’d done a conversational circle about “Experiencing & Observing: Must Have Marketing Skills”, so if you are interested, you could follow the channel, head into it, and find it there. Do check out the other stuff too, because I try to build on concepts we’ve covered in the previous circle. You can also bookmark the circles to listen to them when it’s convenient for you.

So, in actuality, what you do first, the brand or the business, depends on what the market dictates, so the correct answer to brand or business, is actually the hidden third option, marketing.

You begin by observing and experiencing the market. Some say you can’t go to market without a product; they’re wrong. Kickstarter and other ventures allow you to do just that. Going to the market is way, waaaaay more important than building a brand or doing business.

Before we end, I’d like to share something. Burger King does incredible brand activities, they constantly win awards from them, but these have little to no business impact. Mcdonald’s does better business, but their social media and brand value make them the cheap, non-healthy alternative. A salad bar doesn’t help at all.

But when you see a burger, you don’t know what brand to think of. But fried chicken, now that’s KFC. Why does this happen? Because KFC owns that shape. Shapes are amazing, and graphic designers will tell you it is the shape we remember, not the details, and they’re absolutely correct.

Marketing helps you define this shape. You can grow, shrink, extend, reduce, stretch, bend, morph, or merge; but the shape needs to be congruent or similar. This is the primary role of marketing. The business may grow or shrink, the product may morph or bend, companies may merge or split, and brands may do whatever the way, but marketing adds the shape.

Marketing defines the business in terms of the brand and the brand in terms of the business.

That’s all there is to it, folks. Please keep it simple, grow the brand, grow the business, grow the branding, and grow the marketing.

Listen to the entire conversation here — “Brands v/s business v/s Marketing.”

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