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June 2012
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By DAVID ZOELLER dzoeller@paducahsun.com

Branding and marketing are two critical - and different - components of a successful business.

The two are related and also often misunderstood, according to marketing industry specialists.

"As a business owner it is essential that you understand branding and marketing both in great detail, so that you can effectively utilize them together," according to the content discovery platform Outbrain.com.

"In a nutshell, branding is who you are - and marketing is how you build awareness. Branding is your strategy, while marketing encompasses your tactical goals."

Helping business owners understand the difference was the goal of a recent seminar, "Branding Your Business," sponsored by Paducah Main Street, and presented by Todd Duff, CEO of Innovations Branding House.

"Branding is the promise you make to people, the promise your business makes to people," Duff said. "Another way to view it is 'What do (people) say about you and your business when you're not in the room?' That's branding.

"So, what's marketing? Marketing is a different beast," he said. "Once you establish that brand and you know what that is, the marketing supports that and drives the message forward. You're going to market in different ways, but it's all about that brand promise that you have."

According to Duff, people often confuse a business' logo with its brand.

Nike has a "great logo, but it's not their brand," Duff said. "That (Just Do It.) is a tag that just kind of motivates and they get to use over and over. So, their brand, and maybe this gets us thinking differently about brand, but their brand is a statement that all their marketing follows."

That statement is: "To bring inspiration and innovation to every athlete (asterisk) in the world. That word athlete has an asterisk next to it because when you read further on their website or documentation, that asterisk means athlete equals anyone with a body. So, if you have a human body, you're an athlete to Nike."

A good example of the value of brand is Coca-Cola, according to Duff.

"Their overall value is $70 billion. Of that $70 billion, 30 percent is the stuff. The trucks, the bottles, people, buildings," he said. "All the rest of it ($70 billion) is just the name."

Building a brand promise starts with a brand statement that is simple, credible and memorable, Duff said. The brand promise helps set the tone for the marketing plan.

According to Duff, some businesses view advertising as a commodity that supplements their image, while others recognize the creation of a brand as an integral part of their marketing.

"No one wants to be a commodity," he said. "Coffee is a commodity, Piper's is not. You want to be on the brand side. Etc. is a brand, there's a promise."

Social media is a good way for a business person to promote his or her brand, Duff said, while urging some caution. Social media posts that get too political or use bad language, for example, could damage a brand.

"My social media, full transparency, it's a branding things," he said. "If I put anything out there it's thought through based on what my brand promise is."

In developing a marketing plan, business owners should be flexible in their approach, be willing to try new things, and commit some time to it.

According to Duff, there is a tendency for business people to approach marketing by casting a "wide net."

"We want to hit everybody, tell everybody about it," he said. "And we want to do it effectively. What happens is we think of marketing as a shotgun blast and see what sticks. People don't have the money to do that."

Instead of trying to reach a large audience, try to reach the right audience, Duff suggests.

"You've got to start really small. Think 'I want raving fans. I want 10 people who will just not shut up about me,' " he said. "Then you make a list of 10 people who think their business cannot exist without you and just make it happen. That's marketing. That stuff starts to go and you're pushing your brand to those people.

Then, "Maybe it's 50 (people), maybe it's 100. You make a target list of people you want on your side."

Goal-setting is another critical component, Duff said. The brainstorming process helps identify objectives, obstacles and solutions, and visualize the potential rewards.

"Goals have metrics and time associated with them. If you don't have time in which to complete it, and how you measure success it's not a goal," he said.

You can't make a list of goals and then put it away for six months, Duff said, recommending the list be put someplace where it will be seen regularly, like underneath your computer keyboard.

Changes in technology, and the numerous social media platforms available have enhanced the branding and marketing process, according to Duff. However, one thing hasn't changed.

"The fundamentals of promising your clients something hasn't changed at all."

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