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Picture this: you are a CMO for a mid-sized organization. It’s your job to create and execute a strategy that reaches the right people, in the right place, at the right time – to drive the bottom line.

You’re kind of a big deal.

How are you going to create a strategy that’s actually going to work? Contrary to popular belief, marketing is not the first step.

Branding is your starting point.

Oftentimes brands come to us in need of exectionary work: websites, ad campaigns, or content creation. But how do we know that these endeavors are going to be effective if we don’t have certain things fleshed out?

  • How are you standing out from the competition? (positioning)
  • Why are customers choosing you? (messaging)
  • How are customers finding you? (marketing)

(Proper) branding tackles all of these – it guides the marketing process and makes it more efficient, which, in turn, makes it cost less. Yes – proper branding saves companies millions each year by avoiding ineffective marketing.

This all sounds really good, right? As a busy CMO you would probably benefit from marketing that was more effective, efficient, and came at a reduced cost. But how exactly do you get to that place of marketing nirvana?

Let’s break it down.

Proper Branding Makes Positioning Easier

In today’s over-saturated market, people have too many buying options and too many ads telling them where to look and what to buy. Not only is it overwhelming for customers, it also makes it harder for your brand to stand out. So, as CMO your first order of business is to make certain your brand stands out in a meaningful way. This is positioning 101 – we call it differentiation.

Brand positioning refers to the process of aligning your brand in the minds of your target audience. But keep in mind that each person who interacts with your brand will have their own perception of it. So, while it seems like you are only creating one brand, you’re actually creating thousands of different brands, which, for those keeping score at home – is a lot.

How can you make this easier for yourself, you ask?

Start with branding. All proper branding processes take customer experience & perception, brand mission & vision, and a look at the landscape (competition & market conditions) into consideration. These are the building blocks of a brand and are a foundation to build off of. Establish who you are so that you can position yourself in just the right category or niche to target the right people. In other words, find what makes your brand different from everyone else. A surefire way to be different is to apply disruptive thinking, wherein you challenge the preconceived notions in your industry and break one or two with your business model (Uber broke taxying by allowing anyone to become a driver and anyone a rider).

(You can read more about brand positioning).

Proper Branding Makes Messaging Easier

In your role as CMO your second order of business is to develop strong messaging. How is your brand going to speak to its customers? Where will the conversations take place? (i.e Instagram, Facebook, Email, carrier pigeon, siren song, etc.).

Without branding, it’s difficult to create messaging that speaks to your target audience. Sure, it’s easy enough to write some lines of copy and hope for the best but there is no strategy behind it. That is where branding comes in.

Proper branding informs all of your decisions. 

In order to reach your ideal customers you need to know who they are and what makes them tick. Essentially you need to establish the “why” behind their buying decisions. Once you have that nailed down it will be much easier to craft meaningful messaging that speaks directly to your target audience on an emotional level.

Proper Branding Makes Marketing Easier – Marketing is nothing without branding

Finally, as CMO you need to do what you do best, market your brand! With your brand’s positioning and messaging in place, marketing efforts become much easier because most of the work is already done. You know who your customers are, you know what makes them tick, you know where they are most likely to engage with your brand.

Coming into marketing with an informed strategy based on a brand is much easier than throwing sh*t at the wall and seeing what sticks. Now that you have a deeper understanding of your ideal customers, promoting your goods or services should feel more like having a conversation with an old friend as opposed to you hawking your stuff to whoever’s in earshot.

Afterall, proper branding pulls people in.

Marketing is the Push, Branding is the Pull

While marketing is certainly important in driving short term sales, it’s branding that keeps customers engaged with your company and its services or products for a long time. It’s branding that establishes customers who become brand ambassadors (and do some of the marketing for you).

Branding should be the first step your company takes and once a proper position is crafted and excellent branding is in place, marketing will come much easier and bring more success.

So, the real question is: are you doing more pushing or pulling?

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