Many organizations that display a dynamic brand name see branding as a subset of marketing management. This is demonstrated by an organizational design that puts the customer at the center of the business. Those organizations recognize that marketing is the name of the game: If you don’t sell, you aren’t in business.
Unfortunately this by no means describes all organizations. For sure, marketing has made progress in boardrooms lately. The competitive pressure and the fast-changing environment of the last decade or so have pushed many more organizations to be in tune with their market, e.g., TI in the US, Renault in France. Nevertheless, there are still executives who declare that: “marketing is not a priority for us.”
Although those skeptics would be interested in increasing sales and profitability durably, they resist the idea that the marketing function can help them reach that objective. In fact, they may confuse long- and short-term planning:
Coca-Cola’s customers would surely shy away from Coke, and would perhaps take to the street altogether, if the taste of the iconic soda changed daily from bitter to sweet. Building trust in a brand therefore requires consistency over a long period of time. It is the task of strategic marketing.
When a Kmart department store launches a promotional event, the chances are that Wal-Mart’s market intelligence will pick it up immediately and counter it if necessary. Thus, the quick reaction time of Wal-Mart builds sales, as it can annihilate its competitors’ price advantage in almost any region. This is a short-term plan, and it is the job of operational marketing.
It can be said that the short-term of today is the long-term of yesterday. As such, operational marketing must fit into strategic marketing.
Operational marketing is concerned with all the tasks popularly called marketing, including advertising, merchandising and promotional events. Strategic marketing is concerned with long-term objectives and planning. Among other things, it covers trend analyses, customer service processes, intelligence gathering processes, product development, and branding. In many successful companies, such as Nike, Dell or Staples, the branding strategy will deeply influence the entire organization, as they seek to touch their customers in the same way at every contact-point. For example, Staples, an office-supply retailer, aims at making the purchasing experience easy, as communicated in its trademarked slogan “that was easy.” In practice, it may mean training the front-line personnel to customer service processes (e.g., to minimize check-out lines), designing the website for instant product reviews and actual delivery time, and scheduling fast delivery of orders and pick-up of returns. All those organizational aspects thus reinforce each other and converge to the same strategic objective.
In addition, those marketing-focused companies build brand equity that is bankable. Indeed, once a brand starts being recognizable, it can have a dollar value in the eye of investors and lenders. As such, it goes to the core of business valuation, a metric that is the livelihood of Wall Street analysts and venture capitalists. We may think that it takes decades to generate brand equity unless you are an Internet business; but the shoemaker Nike, for instance, demonstrated that a top global brand could be built in less than 15 years.
As a strategic factor, branding can also contribute to a corporate strategy by erecting entry barriers against competitors. For example, when you think about safe family cars, the chances are that Volvo will jump to mind. Volvo is so entrenched in its position of safe family car, that it would be foolish for any other car maker to challenge the Swedish brand on its turf.
Branding can also help a corporation deliver on its going-concern mission. The strengths of the Harley-Davidson and the Ford Mustang brands both saved those products from disappearing at a time where their American competitors were collapsing.
Any business organization has the power to take control of its future and can have an emotional impact on its audience. It requires understanding the role of marketing as being different in the short- and the long-terms, with strategic marketing and operational marketing being two distinct activities.
Although branding is as much art as science, it goes far beyond cute logos and curvy package designs. It is a discipline that has the power to lead and influence; a discipline that belongs to the long-term strategy of an organization.
AMR Media (http://www.amrmedia.com) is one such company that has built a reputation on providing leading website design in the Durham Region. I would check them out if you’re looking for a website designer in the Durham Region or in Oshawa, Ajax, Pickering, or Whitby.