Ed Burghard remembers when he was first asked, “what is a brand?” While it’s a simple question that can be answered a few different ways, Ed wasn’t satisfied with his first crack at it. It’s not that his response was invalid, but one filled with marketing jargon that likely left his lecture’s audience with more questions than answers.
After an impressive marketing career that includes 33 years at Procter & Gamble, Ed has clarity on how to answer that straightforward but daunting question. He cuts out the marketing-laden terminology to focus on what’s important, delivering a solution easy for any professional to understand. Ed documents this fresh approach and more in his newly released book, “Building Brands: What Really Matters.”
Vehr Communications values Ed as a strategic advisor, and he recently joined us to discuss his book, professional experiences and takes on branding. Here are three takeaways for marketers:
1. Marketing is a subset of branding, not the other way around.
Most college-level marketing textbooks will tell you that branding is a subset of marketing, but Ed thinks differently. In his eyes, branding is the overarching umbrella category while marketing acts as one of its many extensions.
While this may be an unpopular opinion, Ed’s logic backs it up. Everything comes back to the brand whether you’re starting from scratch or inserting yourself into an established organization. You can base a marketing plan off a brand, but it’s not nearly as easy building a brand around marketing concepts and strategies.
2. Image and identity are two different things.
Ed dedicates a chapter of his book to this common misconception. He stresses that marketers sometimes contract with an agency to fix an image problem when the issue really stems from a brand’s identity, or vice versa, and it’s important to know the difference.
Image is the perception of a brand whereas identity is what the actual product or service is all about, Ed explains. There are countless examples of big-name brands confusing identity for image, and in some cases it leads to their downfall because they lose sight of how the two play off each other.
3. Maintaining a brand is just as much internal as external.
Once a brand is implemented and its strategic plan is finalized, it’s essential for everyone within the organization to be on the same page about what’s trying to be accomplished. Ed claims he often observes some form of disconnect between a brand’s promise of consumer expectation and all the work that goes into that.
Every last person factors into a brand’s success and the execution of its strategic plan, whether it’s a leader making tough decisions, someone in a consumer-facing role or an office manager. If anyone is unclear on how their role contributes to the bigger picture, your organizational structure or brand promise might need reevaluating.
You can read more of Ed’s branding insights in “Building Brands: What Really Matters” available through Amazon.