Brand gotcha

Brand gotcha


One of the first things I say when talking with groups about brand is that they need to forget what they think they know – that brand is part of marketing. In the process I often find myself caught in a kind of brand gotcha game.

Let me explain. Over the course of talking about my philosophy around brand and the role I see it plays in organisations some examples fall under the heading of marketing. And as soon as that happens I often get the “but you said brand wasn’t marketing” gotcha line thrown back my way.

So let me take a moment to add a little detail to clarify my position. What I perhaps could say is that brand isn’t only marketing. The reason I don’t say that is because it still puts way too much emphasis on the marketing piece. The more accurate statement would be that marketing is part of brand. And so is human resources, finance, operations, manufacturing, distribution, customer service … name a function or aspect of your organisation and it is part of building your brand.

There’s no gotcha. Marketing is part of building a brand. It’s important to an organisation’s success; for what you do and how you do things to be well thought-out and for people to know about you. But marketing doesn’t own brand. It is often not even a good steward. 

You know what else is important to building a brand?

Hiring the right people who share your values and care about your purpose. Designing products and services the bring what you care about to life. Manufacturing and/or delivering them in alignment with what you care about – even when that means making hard choices. The list goes on and on down to the smallest details. It’s all part of building a brand.

Another way to see the role brand should play is to take it out of the vertical silo named marketing and turn in on its side so it runs horizontal across all business functions. The most successful brands treat it this way. Much like strategy runs horizontal, so too should brand.

Unfortunately, that’s hardly ever what happens. But when it does, it drives deep alignment for those organisations. Think about it like a car. When the wheels are out of alignment the car still goes forward, but it suffers more wear and tear. It has poor energy economy. It’s bumpy and unstable for the passengers.

Now, when the wheels are in alignment it uses less energy to go the same speed, the engine and tires will run better longer and the passengers have a smoother journey to get where they’re going.

The same it true for organisations with a strong brand. It helps align things so it all works together. Momentum builds with each action and decision. It gets rid of friction because there is a strong foundation for understanding what needs to be done and how to do it. People know what the organisation cares about and can support it.

So is your brand a silo that causes a bumpy ride or a sleek well-aligned set of wheels helping the organisation move forward?

See you next week with step one for building alignment: Getting the foundation right.

Get your brand questions answered by posting them on twitter @michelhogan or emailing me at [email protected]

Michel is an Independent Brand Analyst dedicated to helping organisations make promises they can keep and keep the promises they make. She also publishes a blog at You can follow Michel on Twitter @michelhogan.


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