Blog Insight

Should I Do Brand or Product Marketing?

Photo by Robert Anasch

We’re often approached by companies who aren’t quite sure whether they should be running brand or product marketing. Often, our answer is: both! Brand marketing and product or service marketing perform very different roles in a company’s overall brand strategy, but when done well, they work together seamlessly to create a brand experience customers can trust.

A brand is like a person.

Let’s start with a basic analogy we use when helping a company create or improve its brand: a brand is like a person. It has a personality. It has strengths and weaknesses. It has goals. It has a voice. Now, this person also makes things. But you can see right away that it’s one thing to talk about the person herself, and another entirely to talk about what she makes.

Who they are versus what they make

You can also see that a brand is evaluated based on criteria that, while overlapping, are largely separate. You’ll evaluate a person first and foremost based on what it’s like to spend time with them. Is she fun? Is she funny? Trustworthy? Down-to-earth? Whereas you’ll judge something they make based mostly on whether it meets your needs.

Here’s what product campaigns do.

Because the criteria we use to evaluate brands versus products are so different, the way we market them needs to be different too. When we’re marketing a product, solution, or service, the campaign will need to be based on how that product, solution, or service performs. There are as many ways to accomplish this as there are products to market—it can be comparative, it can be demonstrative, it can metaphorical or concrete. But it has to talk about what the product does, and how well.

Here’s what brand campaigns do.

Brand campaigns need to do another thing entirely. They need to put you in a certain mood. What mood that is depends on what the brand personality is. Harley-Davidson wants you to feel something much different than Volvo does. The success of a brand campaign will be whether or not consumers begin to associate certain feelings with the brand. The success of a product campaign will be a measure of whether or not it nudges consumers along in their buyer’s journey.

Brand and product marketing work together.

Now let’s talk about the overlap. While it’s true that the first objective of a brand campaign is emotional, while that of a product campaign is practical, good brand strategy takes both of these into account. You can imagine someone who loves your company and sings your praises online. That’s great. But what if they don’t buy your products? Not as great. You can also imagine someone who buys your products but never engages with your brand in any other way.

When both campaigns are in concert, however, you’re demonstrating value and creating an emotional relationship with the buyer. And that means you’ll not only drive sales today but you’ll also secure future sales by driving loyalty and engagement.