Branding is something that consumers DO to your business however, by using the right “branding elements” – you can provide much needed “direction” in building that consumer perception. Since acquiring branding elements – like a logo, a website design, a facebook page or a twitter account – are all dirt cheap – what’s your excuse for not building a powerful brand?
There’s a great article over at Fast Company by Heath Shackleford Why Fast, Cheap, and Easy Design Is Killing Your Nonprofit’s Brand
It’s not a question of whether you can get quality design from cheap (or free) apps and services. Sometimes you do, sometimes you don’t. The real question is a fundamental one: Do you have a strategy for what you’re creating?
For 8 out of 10 nonprofits, the answer to that question is no. Only 20% of causes report having a formal, written marketing strategy. Meanwhile, 100% have logos, websites, and donor communication vehicles. That’s less than ideal when you consider:
- A logo does not equal a brand.
- A website does not equal a digital presence.
- A Facebook page does not equal an engaged community.
- A press release does not equal press coverage.
Strategy leads to things like a distinctive and authentic point of view, the creation of compelling content, and the development of engaged communities. Without strategy, you are just making stuff that may or may not “look pretty.”
I stand and salute Heath on everything he wrote with exception of the statement about strategy which I italicized. Here’s where we differ: I believe it’s possible for a business to fail in developing a distinct and authentic point of view despite having a sound strategy in place. I have seen companies fail to create compelling content and engaged communities even though they have developed a cohesive marketing strategy. Admittedly, more often than not – in cases where the company fails to connect on these “branding precepts” there is a gaping chasm where “insert marketing strategy statement” goes.
Often times at start up – the passion of the founder “infects” the business at the cellular level. This infection leads to the distinct and authentic point of view which in turn leads effortlessly into created compelling content which has as its end result an engaged community. However, it’s the passion of the leader(s) – not the lack of marketing strategy – which lies at the root of this success.
It’s possible to have a marketing strategy without passion – and it’s equally possible to have passion without a marketing strategy. So if you have passion – do you really need a marketing strategy?
In the end, I’d have to say strategy trumps passion every time. Combine the two – and you have a powerful force which will fuel the engine of your successful business. However, if someone held a gun to your head and forced you to choose just one of the two – choose strategy over passion every time.
Why choose strategy over passion?
Strategy plans for the obstacles ahead – the incessant, relentless obstacles that can quickly “drain” every ounce of passion from most hearty and enthusiastic of mortal beings.
In the end, creating a cohesive marketing strategy is like creating an acrylic housing for the passion upon which you’ve founded your business. Not only can it protect your passion – it can also direct your “branding” efforts as well.