You are not alone if you can't clearly define the differences between branding and marketing. Many people can't, including Fortune 500 CEO's. But whether you are a start-up or just trying to grow - I guarantee knowing the difference will help you be successful. You won't find all the answers here, but my quick primer may be a good start:
Branding: A Promise
A brand is a "promise" that a company or product delivers.
For the Customer: It's getting what they expect.
For the Company: It's a promise to customers and colleagues in everything you do.
To be successful, you must deliver on that promise consistently. The idea that a brand is a logo, a name or a color is where business failures begin. It's about meeting expectations in what you deliver, and how you deliver it.
Think of the most recent PR gaffs by airlines or clothing companies. Were they meeting your expectations for their brand? Probably not if you remember the issue. Those brand failures were not due to an ugly logo. When we love a brand we feel connected, and think we "know" the company. We develop brand expectations for service, quality and delivery. In short, we trust the company. In this way, customers should be considered a large part of defining a brand.
So really your brand is "everything" within your company. It is imperative to define what your company stands for if you want a successful brand - even if that brand is YOU. You have to identify your target audience and what they want, define and communicate why you are better than your competitors, and know your brand's purpose. Your brand in turn will direct how you solve problems, how you package products and what products you sell.
Some businesses know WHAT they are from day one, and as long as they stay small and keep the same employees, then they may not need to repeat this exercise. However, for most businesses, things change - sales drop, people leave, or a competitor threatens your sales. Then what do you do? If you define what your brand stands for now, then it becomes easier to make decisions later - who you should hire, what products should you sell, how your communications should sound, and even what your office environment should look like.
The key to unlocking the power of your brand is involving your employees and customers. How do they describe your brand? What are their expectations? Are you delivering on your promises?
Marketing: A Process
Marketing is defined by the Chartered Institute of Marketing as "The management process responsible for identifying, anticipating and satisfying customer requirements profitably".
Marketing, then, is an integral part of your brand. It helps you to communicate the promise that you want customers and prospects to know about. Your marketing should also be based on your brand positioning, personality, values and tone of voice that have all been defined and communicated among your staff.
In essence, marketing is what you do to get your message or promise to customers, while your brand is how you keep the promise made through delivery to customers and colleagues. And marketing requires answers such as:
Need more help to define your brand, or create a successful marketing campaign. We can help. Ask us how.
Congratulations! You started a business. Everyone is telling you to network, and you go to it. But did anyone warn you that in your haste, there is a certain online etiquette to consider when searching for business opportunities, or bad habits that actually will limit your ability to build a network? Here are a few quick Dos and Don’ts that will make everyone's experience better.
Social Networking Etiquette: Do
Do separate personal from transactional:
It's time to create a new identity if your personal posts are too often about selling something. Think "Oprah Winfrey" vs "Oprah". Imagine if her brand was not separate from her personal life? If you have friends and want to keep them, you can reference your business occasionally, and set up links to your business networks. Invite them to follow your new networks. If interested, they will. The idea is to grow your network, not to alienate friends and family who just want a personal connection. Your family and kids will thank you for it.
Do find your online voice:
Be very clear about what type of message you want to send people through social networking. What is your brand vs the brand of the products you represent? Are you actively engaged in social networking or re-posting. Are you a connector, or an observer? Remember, you’re building a reputation online with people you know very well, or may not know at all—and they will judge you based on what you have to say and how you respond. A whole branding discussion could start here... if interested, here's a good branding article.
Do add social media links to your marketing:
Make sure that anything you do online is reciprocated offline. This means that you should include your social networking links on promotional items, business cards, your company website, press releases, and basically anywhere that you want to create a lasting connection. Otherwise, why bother?
Post often and consistently:
Once you engage with a social network, make the commitment do it consistently. Be it weekly, monthly or daily. But post because you have meaningful content, or add value otherwise, see below.
Do engage your audience. Ask questions:
What problem does your product solve? Take that solution and pose the question - Who needs this? Take the time to come up with thought-provoking questions that can engage your audience into having a conversation occasionally. In many instances, solving problems will lead to more sharing. People love to tell other people about solutions and great stuff they just learned. This is adding value.
Do re-post valuable content:
One of the kindest things you can do on a social network to show someone you’re listening, is to share their content. Tell stories. But... make sure it’s good content that you have permission to share, and that your audience will care about it. Is it relatable? Is it funny? Is it educational? All good.
Social Networking Etiquette: Don’t
Sending out unsolicited ads and messages makes you a spammer. Don't kid yourself. Are you using software to allow people to opt out of your emails? If not, they may end up blocking your profile altogether. Be careful about crossing the line. For example, posting a link to your website on a completely unrelated but popular Facebook page, or in the middle of a Twitter or LinkedIn discussion, is not OK. Likewise, keep personal pages personal. Refer to DO #1.
Don't wear out your welcome:
Do your customers want to hear from you daily? If you are a roofer, probably not. But if you are a lunch cafe, is monthly often enough? You might want some short "shout-outs" about menus or specials to increase business. Bottom line, THINK about your customers before you post, or they'll stop following you.
Don’t have one-way communication:
A quick way to lose followers and connections is to talk about yourself or post product ads all the time. Remember, this is “social” media, so consider lightening things up with less formal posts that are conversational. Invite photo submissions, or hold a LIVE stream session. Don’t make every post about you or your business. Pay attention to others and listen for opportunities to jump into conversations in a more strategic and directed way. Always ask, "Why would my customers care about this?," then tell them why.
Don’t use bad grammar:
Just because it’s social media, it doesn’t give us a pass to use improper grammar. Misspelled words, acronyms and abbreviate words may be OK for text messaging, but If you are representing a brand or personally branding yourself, lay off the shorthand and type your words out. IMHO.
Don’t abandon your social networks:
When you’re first approaching social networking, it’s tempting to follow every fad and trend of a social network. And with new social networking sites being released all the time, it’s tempting to jump from one to another seeking new ways to make connections. Don’t do it. Pick a social network you really intend to be active on, get good at that first, and then branch into other social networks over time.
Entrepreneurs, let the online networking Dos and Don’ts help you get the results you need from your next networking experience.
What does that mean?
By immersing ourselves in the consumer data unearthed during the audit process, the Audience Research team provides valuable insights into where your brands and products need to be across the digital spectrum to get and keep your consumers’ attention.
Strategic Planning uses audience research data, to assist brands in building integrated marketing strategies across a range of digital media to reach and engage your consumers exactly where they are in the marketplace.
How do most consumers first interact with your brand? Through content. We craft a strategy that accounts for the content lifecycle, plans for your business goals, and serves users across the web.
Creative Services leverage in-depth audience intelligence to help deliver your brand’s distinct message, look, and feel using effective, compelling content to drive meaningful interaction and inspire brand loyalty.
Web Development works to ensure your company's website and social media pages are accessible, responsive, engaging, and intuitive for consumers.
Social Media crafts influential social media strategies to inspire your consumers to advocate for your brand, share your message, and empower them to market your products or services.
organic search (seo)
SEO is critical to any digital marketing program, and driving success for a company's online business. As experts we not only know how to implement SEO across your site and landing pages, but how to integrate SEO across all digital marketing channels to capture the voice of your consumer.
digital paid media
Digital Paid Media applies what was learned in audience research and couples it with our plans in earned and owned media to fully maximize each dollar spent, ensuring we deliver on your company's branding and acquisition goals and secure a larger slice of the online market share.
Consumers may increasingly interact with brands online, but finding a physical location is critical to most companies’ success. Our team of local search experts are committed to helping you tell the right story across search engines and aggregators to bring people in when they need you.
Your brand’s digital presence needs to transcend the desktop and offer an impactful and user-friendly experience regardless of the device your consumer is using. Our team of Mobile Experience experts help you create consistency and success across platforms.
Display advertising is a visually appealing way to deliver a compelling message to your consumers at the top of the funnel, becoming a conversation starter. We strive to ensure each display campaign is engaging and delivers results across ad networks and direct websites, using various targeting methods.
From branding and acquisition to retention and customer service, lifecycle marketing is key to growing your business. Our experts in email and SMS help you attract, build, grow, and maximize your relationship with consumers and prospects.
analytics & reporting
Our Analytics team works closely applying business intelligence to online performance. Our technical experience allows us to track and measure in innovative ways that align with the objectives of your organization.
GoodInk Reliable Cloud Hosting
GoodInk isn't just the best website service – we're also a rock solid web host. Every website on GoodInk is hosted by our datacenter redundant, cloud based hosting infrastructure. Your website lives in two data center locations across the United States to provide superior uptime, response time, and reliability compared to other hosting providers.
Totally free & fast hosting
How is this possible? On a traditional web host, your website shares disk space and CPU power with dozens or sometimes hundreds of other customers on a single server. If one of those other customer's websites has a big traffic spike, all websites on that server can slow to a crawl.
With GoodInk, your website is served across our entire server infrastructure that powers millions of websites and pageviews per day. If your website is featured on CNN.com, it won't cause as much as a hiccup in the performance of your website, or the other websites hosted by GoodInk.
A complete eCommerce solution
Fully Integrated Shopping Cart and Secure Checkout
Provide shoppers with the convenience of a fully integrated free shopping cart and a secure checkout experience directly from your ecommerce website. Our shopping cart software is set-up automatically when you create your store so you can start selling online immediately, no technical skills needed.
Complete Mobile Store and Checkout
Give shoppers a mobile experience that works every time from any device. We ensure your online store and products load quickly and display perfectly. Our ecommerce websites include a free mobile shopping cart and and secure checkout experience that’s designed to work perfectly on smaller screens like phones and tablets.
Powerful Filtered Product Search
Give shoppers a faster way to find exactly what they want. Highlight the most relevant products and let your customers filter the results by attributes like price, color, etc. Filtered product search helps you maximize exposure across all of your inventory and create more buying opportunities.
Sell Digital Goods, Physical Products , Services and More
We offer flexible options for selling a wide range of products. Digital and downloadable items are automatically delivered to your customers via email with a secure one-time use link. There are extensive options for physical products, one-of-a-kind handmade items, services and donations that can be completely customized to meet your needs.
Search Engine Optimized Online Stores
Our ecommerce websites are designed with search engines in mind so customers can find you. We automatically optimize your site and product pages so you’ll have everything you need to start ranking for search results.
Flexible Shipping Options
Offer the shipping choices that shoppers want and easily handle a full spectrum of shipping situations ranging from simple to complex. Sellers can offer “free shipping” on select orders, set shipping rates based on price or weight and define carriers (e.g. UPS, USPS, FedEx) as well as delivery speed (e.g. ground, 3-day, overnight). Rates can be adjusted for geographic locations including full international support and fine-grained control options for sub-regions (states, provinces, etc.).
Fine-Grained Tax Controls
It’s simple to manage even the most complex tax situations with a GoodInk website. You determine when and where to apply taxes. GoodInk provides and maintains current city, state and province level tax rates for the United States and Canada. For all other countries, tax rates can be defined by the seller.
Track Your Inventory
Manage a handful or hundreds of products. Track your inventory to manage your supply, show customers the number of items remaining to create urgency and boost buying behavior (e.g. only 2 left!), and automatically show items that are no longer available as “out of stock”.
Manage Your Store on the Go with the GoodInk iPhone and Android Apps
Mobile apps make it easy and convenient to manage your online store from anywhere. You can process and fulfill orders, provide personalized service and respond to customer inquiries, upload new products and photos, notify customers when a purchase has shipped, check sales figures in real-time and receive notifications whenever a new order is placed.
Powerful eCommerce Website Builder
Getting your store up and running is as simple as adding your products, setting up shipping and selecting your preferred way to accept payments.. We automatically create a storefront for you to customize as much or as little as you’d like, including the option for full CSS/HTML control and editing.
Free eCommerce Hosting
Reliable, world-class cloud hosting that’s redundant and scalable means your online store is always available. We handle all the details to ensure your ecommerce website loads quickly every time, no matter how much traffic you receive.
Instantly accept major credit cards directly from your own domain name. Choose from a variety of payment options including Stripe, PayPal and Authorize.net.
Showcase Your Products with Display and Merchandising Options
The GoodInk platform brings the ease of drag and drop editing to product merchandising. Create rich product descriptions with slideshows and videos. Easily reorder products for maximum visual appeal. Shoppers can easily share your products on Facebook, Twitter and Pinterest.
Integrate Content and eCommerce
Combine content and products in unique ways to create more buying opportunities. In addition to a powerful storefront, GoodInk gives you the freedom to showcase and sell products or accept donations from any page on your site such as a blog or your homepage with our standalone element.
Sell to Shoppers Around the World
Tap into the growing global market with complete international support for accepting payments, shipping and taxes. Payment processing is available in 25 countries with PayPal and 11 countries with Stripe. Easily manage shipping to any destination. Flexible tax management with fine-grained controls to support online stores globally.
Process and Manage Orders
Process and manage orders from end-to-end with order confirmation emails, shipment tracking notifications, refunds and returns processing and real-time reporting for orders and sales.
Move your Existing Online Store to GoodInk
Want to see a preview of what your existing store could look like on GoodInk? We can import your store from Etsy, Shopify or we can upload a CSV file directly into our platform for fast and easy setup. Once imported, we can adjust and tweak your store design to create a unique look.
We’re Here to Help You Start Your Online Store
With the fast growing number of people browsing the web with their mobile phones, it’s crucial to have a mobile friendly and accessible website. With GoodInk, we create a mobile optimized version of your website automatically! The visitors that arrive to your website on a phone are shown the mobile version of your site, while visitors arriving to your website on a computer are shown the full website.
You don’t have to do anything – it just works!
Detailed Traffic Stats
The site traffic dashboard gives you immediate insight into how many people visited your website, which pages they visited, what search terms they used to find the site, and which websites referred traffic to the site.
Your website statistics are calculated in real-time so you can keep a close eye on your data and traffic patterns. For even deeper insights into your website statistics, we add Google Analytics tracking code as well. We can send you detailed Google Analytic Reports weekly, monthly or quarterly.
It's all included for FREE in your monthly support package.
Video & Audio Players
Upload audio or video files to your site. Our multimedia elements will automatically convert them for playback directly from your website. This means that website visitors won’t have to download the files and open a separate media player to watch or listen.
Go ahead - try it!
Photo Galleries & Slideshows
It’s easy to show off photos in beautiful, professional photo galleries and slideshows. You select the photos to include and we’ll make them look great with transition effects, automatic re-sizing, and a wide selection of different display styles.
Here's what a slideshow looks like:
Here's what a Gallery looks like:
Adding a blog to a website takes a single click. Posts are created using the same drag & drop interface on any page. It’s a breeze to include beautiful photo galleries, videos, audio clips, and other widgets in a posts.
You have the flexibility to make the blog the website’s homepage, a sub-page in the menu, or even include multiple blogs on the same website.
Our blogging engine is fully featured and includes:
Julene Hunter makes good design accessible and affordable. She co-founded two software companies, and has been practicing digital and creative arts in all its forms for over 30 years. She founded GoodInk in 2007.