Your Ineffective Marketing is Likely a Branding Issue


Marketing has come a long way since the one-way communication of newspaper ads and tv commercials. Having a grassroots YouTube video go viral or the right influencer wearing your product and sharing it to millions of followers can have a greater impact on a brand than prime placement during the SuperBowl. Social media has changed not just the way we shop but the way we share and interact with brands. With the ability to set your audience for your Facebook ads and to retarget customers who have recently visited your website with ads that pop up in their feed, getting your product in front of new potential customers has never been easier.

Success is no longer just about getting your product out there, but standing apart from the swarms of other products that are JUST LIKE YOURS.

At the same time, nearly every market is becoming oversaturated. Customers are becoming more and more inundated with marketing messages and brands are left vying for their attention. Email services like are making it easier for customers to unsubscribe. Influencer marketing is risky for startups, costs top dollar to access larger endorsements and is still largely a testing game for micro-influencers. Facebook and Instagram ads are pay-to-play with marketing agencies demanding higher budgets to see any results from their paid media services.

Marketing vs. Branding

Branding and marketing are elusive concepts that are often confused with each other. It’s likely because there’s tons of overlap and it’s tricky to nail down exactly where one stops and the other begins. CMOs these days are expected to be well-versed in both, which is damn near impossible as there’s a number of nuances to each field. What IS certain is that you need both to have a thriving business.

Branding is the reputation and relationship you build with your customers. It’s the experience and feeling your customer has when they interact with your brand.

Your brand IS NOT simply a logo, a website, or an Instagram feed. These virtual artifacts, as we like to call them, are simply representations of your greater brand identity. They CANNOT and WILL NOT carry your brand.

A strong brand foundation is built by understanding who you are, who your customer is, what your secret sauce is, what pain point you’re solving, what shared values you have with your customer, and where you’re taking anyone who hops on board your brand train. Then, continuing to deliver on that brand promise consistently through your marketing and customer value journey. If you fail to create an authentic brand foundation, it doesn’t matter how beautiful or entertaining your marketing is, it WILL NOT create sustainable success.

Marketing is then sharing your brand message and product with the hope of calling your customers to perform a certain action - buy, donate, join us, book now, etc.

There are a number of platforms and categories in which to market your product or service - email, social media, event/experiential, native advertising, content, influencer, etc. The trick to choosing the right tactic and channel is first understanding your customer, what resonates with them, what your brand message is, etc, and then determining which channels best serve your goals. Without a compelling brand, your marketing will fall flat, your message will be lost in the sea of white noise, and selling your products will feel like pushing a boulder uphill.

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The Dangers of Marketing Without Branding

Think about the last time that you bought something from an ad. The ad likely spoke to a need or desire that you had in that moment - perhaps you’ve been wanting to travel more, or have recently been shopping for a new pair of sandals. What seems like a serendipitous marketing opportunity is actually a strategic mix of timing, placement and message. That brand’s ability to know not only your unique needs and goals, but how to frame the benefits of their product and to make their brand vibe appeal in a way that speaks to your identity is what made you buy.

Here’s the cold, harsh truth: it doesn’t matter HOW MUCH you spend on marketing, if you don’t have a brand that resonates, you are playing a fools game.

You’ve likely heard that a customer won’t remember your brand or product the first dozen or so times they see it, or that you have to hefty marketing budget in order to make a significant dent in your bottom line. There’s truth to these statements, but what they fail to mention is the role that branding plays in the EFFICIENCY of your marketing.

When you have a strategic and focused brand that appeals to a specific customer, you’re more likely to create unique content and focused messaging that actually resonates because you know your customer. Understanding their needs and what values they share with you and how to talk about the things that they want helps you to build trust with that your audience over time.

Robyn Young