Which is it? Your Business or your Brand?
In this blog post, the CEO of Air Asia, Tony Fernandes, provocatively states that, “A company is only as good as its branding. Branding creates awareness, secures top-of-mind, builds affinity and customer loyalty.” Look, I’m in marketing AND I specialize in branding – the last thing I’m going to do is argue with a CEO who sees the critical importance of brand! And he’s right - if you don’t have a brand strategy that works, you’re going nowhere. To be successful, businesses need customers. No matter how great your business is, if you can't communicate it to others - through marketing, through advertising - then you're doomed to insignificance. BUT...
Your brand is only as good as your business!
This is what’s missing from this post. Yes, brand strategy is critical. A great logo or an impressive publicity stunt or a successful ad campaign are awesome and should be the goal of every marketing department because they can work. But there's a limit to what brand can do. Why? Because brand is what puts businesses at top of mind... but it’s the business that puts revenue on the books. And, to state it bluntly, if the business fails to put revenue on the books, there's no business to brand. As Mr. Fernandes points out, brand is what puts his business at top of mind. Yes. But being at top of mind isn't what closes the deal with his customers. It's the mix of product offerings, customer service, availability, price... that's what actually matters. That's what his customers are buying when they respond to his brand. And that's the business. Fail to deliver on those, as we all know, and the business fails. If I may torture the metaphor – the sizzle of the brand may cause potential customers to salivate, but if there's no steak on the plate – your customers are going to find someone else to sate their hunger. Bottom-line: when the business fails to deliver what the brand promised, the business fails.
The hard truth is that successful businesses need to execute!
In the social crush that is all about brand (and yes, I’m guilty of being part of that echo chamber!), business fundamentals have a tendency to get brushed aside. Why? Probably because executing on basic business fundamentals - supply chain and customer service and product development strategies - just isn't very sexy. Knowing why your business matters (or should matter) to its customers is hard work and potentially frustrating - especially if you don't really know. It's much more fun and a heck of a lot easier to talk about how a photo of Sir Richard Branson in a red flight attendant uniform is the reason you're successful!
But at the end of the day, the brands that are truly successful understand that executing on the business is what makes the brand possible. And I would bet that Mr. Fernandes would agree with me.
Agree? Disagree? Drop me a note and let me know!
advertising, branding, marketing