What is Brand Marketing?

What is Brand Marketing? A man staring at a computer screen somewhat confused.

Brand marketing is an approach to communications, sales, product, and service that grows the asset of brand equity.

The idea that every company needs a logo is nearly universal. The logo is close to the first thing on the to-do list for an entrepreneur.

But have you ever wondered what about brand marketing is so powerful that the logo is universal?

It is because everyone knows the power of a brand.

Brand marketing is the theory and tactics to make a strong brand. The theory of brand marketing: spending on marketing is an investment in building a brand’s value, and in-turn the company’s value. That investment-based strategy makes brand marketing different than other marketing strategies such as direct response marketing.


Brand marketing constantly grows a company’s value.

Many first time entrepreneurs and small to medium-sized business owners view spending on marketing as an expense, while money spent on building and maintaining assets like machinery, intellectual property and location are considered to be capital investments.

A brand is no different than any other business asset.

Brand marketing focuses marketing so it is an investment building an asset called brand equity. Brand equity is the portion of a companies value or market cap attributable to a company’s brand.

All business assets have value because they generate future revenue and profits. A machine in a factory, facility for a restaurant or code on a server has value because it makes selling product possible.

A brand is no different than any other business asset. It makes future sales possible.

Brand marketing the opposite of direct response marketing.

As I write this, I am in a Hyundai dealership lounge waiting for my wife’s car to be serviced, and there is a big screen TV annoying me with an infomercial for Dr-Ho’s Pain Therapy System. Hyundai and Dr-Ho cannot have more different approaches to their marketing.

A screenshot from Dr-Ho's Pain Therapy System infomercial. And example of direct response marketing.

Dr-Ho practices direct response marketing. Direct response marketing is when the advertisement is urging you to take action right away. The most flagrant examples are infomercials, but you also see it a lot these days in social media marketing and crowdfunding.

Companies with products with a catchy benefit that doesn’t hold up to scrutiny use direct response marketing. Direct response marketers are not above psychological tricks and high-pressure sales, because they have no fear of losing the relationship with the customer. There is no ongoing relationship.

An advertisement for the Hyundai Ioniq hybrid. The most fuel efficient car in America.

Hyundai practices brand marketing. They are trying to establish a mutually beneficial, ongoing relationship with someone via their communications, sales, product, and service.

Hyundai does not expect any of their ads or touchpoints to result in a sale directly; rather the sum total will build a relationship. One ad might make you aware of a brand. Another ad may introduce the product. They have a website with information on features for customers who express interest, and on and on.

Hyundai is interested in all parts of the brand cycle (more info), where Dr-Ho is only interested in the ‘Evaluation’ and ‘Purchase’ phases. As a result, the value of Hyundai’s brand always increases, while Dr-Ho’s brand equity build only slightly. Hyundai’s brand will survive generations, where Dr-Ho’s would stop if the infomercials stopped.

The Brand Cycle: Impression Phase, Evaluation phase, Purchase phase, Learning phase, Use phase, re-evaluation phase and Leaving phase. Usable under Creative Commons license: Attribution-ShareAlike 4.0 International

Brand Marketing applies in B2B, assuming you aren’t white-labeling.

You business to business folks are not exempt from brand marketing. Your customers are still people, albeit a smaller set of people with a different decision-making process, but you are still forming relationships with them. Your company also has a reputation to consider.

I could see how you might think business to business companies don’t exercise brand marketing. The top ten most valuable brands are consumer brands. But look a little down the list, and the business to business brands pop up: IBM, Oracle, SAP, Accenture, Siemens, etc. Their brand names open doors, and lower acquisition costs.

Let’s talk about white-labeling. If you make a product and allow another company to sell it with their brand attached, then you need to keep in mind that you are growing a brand with your customer company, but they are growing their brand with the end customer. You need to keep this lack of accruing of value in mind in compensation and contracts

For example, Walmart has many vendors make Great Value products for them. A lot of these vendors compete with Great Value their own brand names. When they make Great Value product, they are building the brand for Walmart, not themselves. Walmart could easily replace them with another vendor.

Relationships like that may make business sense for a variety of reasons, but that lack of brand building needs to be considered when making financial calculations. It better be a very secure and profitable relationship.


Tech Startup Trap

An entrepreneur receives investment from an angel investor who says: “go forth, and increase the value of the company.”

What does the typical entrepreneur do with their first marketing spend? Communicate only features and use direct response marketing techniques to close quick sales. Therefore, they do not increase the value of the brand  or the company. This is in direct opposition to what their clients asked them to do.

You need to take a long view on building a brand and invest all around the brand cycle. I recognize that is challenging in a startup. I know resources are limited and the pressure is to only spend time and money only on things that have direct and immediate results. You manage your engineers time accordingly, and that works. Do not manage your marketing the same way.

Manage your marketing spend to:

1) create positive impressions,
2) provide clear product info to facilitate evaluation from customers,
3) close sales,
4) teach your customers to use your product and extract the most value from it, and
5) check in with existing clients to make sure they are still receiving full value.

If you do those five things consistently, you will grow your brand and build your business’ value and your investor’s asset.



Colin Finkle

Colin Finkle is a brand marketer and designer with 14 years of experience helping Fortune 500 companies, and now passionately helps Canadian entrepreneurs and public figures at the brand marketing agency, Nordeau. You can see his work at ColinFinkle.com

34 thoughts on “What is Brand Marketing?”

  1. Awe, what’s all this ‘brand’ marketing crap? If I spend a dollar on marketing, I want ten bucks back… tomorrow! Let’s get real, huh. Dave Smith, president Plain Wrap Widgets.

    Just kidd’n. I have lived, breathed and been an advocate of brand marketing since before electricity. I’ve been a brand developer since the ice age, and see very clearly how nothing… nothing precedes the brand, and all is derived from the brand. Hello!

    Chris Power-Gomez – Power-Gomez Brand Marketing

    1. Yeah… You kind of hit on the reason I felt the need to start this blog. We went 50 years where people knew brands were a thing and considered the collective marketing experience. Then, in the last 10 years or so, direct response marketing gained a huge foothold. Suddenly, the brand marketer was the weird one in the meetings.

    1. Hi Mark. Great website. It looks clean and modern so it presents as professional. Your logo is a little generic, which might keep you from being remembered by potential clients. Given your resources are low, I would use 99 Designs to run a logo design contest for $399.

      Also, I wrote an article for people not knowing where to start: https://brandmarketingblog.com/articles/branding-how-to/building-a-brand-the-easy-way/

      Give that a read and let me know how you are feeling afterward. All the best!

  2. It depends what you are looking for – there are hundreds of brands around the world, most of which are making money from the brands they are promoting. Brand marketing is about how brands are marketing themselves, and what their message to clients is.

    1. Yes. I agree, Ankit: brand marketing is about how brand are marketing themselves. Marketing at it’s core is about what you are telling potential customers, and how. There are brands out there who are selling products and making money, and the savvy ones are building a brand at the same time. They are focusing on the customer and value they are providing, rather than pushing the sale. And presenting their content in a consistent and stylish way in order to be memorable.

  3. Although brand marketing has it’s place as a long term business strategy, a heavy focus on brand marketing at the expense of direct response marketing will most likely result in a start up closing it’s doors before it’s able to establish it’s brand due to poor cash-flow. Although Brand marketing has the potential to build a company’s value over time it does virtually nothing to put badly needed cash in the bank in the short to medium term.
    Your statement about direct response marketing being about short term gains and direct response marketers “having no fear of losing their relationship with their customers” is completely misguided.
    Any good direct response marketer knows that offering exceptional value, and a product or service where the customer actually gets real value and benefits fro the product or service is the key to direct response marketing. If anything the opposite is true. When a business is focused on simply promoting it’s brand and telling it’s customers how good it’s brand is because we are the biggest and best it’s completely missing the whole point of it’s existence – The business is there to serve it’s clients, and it does that by offering exceptional products and services that deliver benefits and value to it’s customers.
    Direct response marketing is simply a vehicle that is used to convey that message. After all, Marketing is all about communicating the value of your products and services to your customers.
    The cost and effort required to market a brand effectively is really only viable for large corporations. If most small, mum and dad startup companies followed a “Brand Marketing” approach they would be unlikely to last their first year.

    1. Hi Mark. It seems as if you believe that brand marketing is devoid of references to the product, calls to action, and the value it creates in people’s lives; that is not true. A good brand marketing campaign makes the customer the hero of the story, and highlights the long term. The goal is to associate those benefits with the brand.

      You mention that focusing on brand is only effective for large corporations because it will lead smaller organizations to a cash flow crisis. I understand where you are coming from because small organizations have less access to investment and credit.

      But corporations are even more focused on short term return on investment. They live quarter to quarter as well because of the stock market, yet they still invest in brand marketing campaigns. Why do you think that is? It is because a combination of brand marketing with direct response is the most effective.

      I am not advocating that mum and dad startup companies take out advertisements promoting their brand in the first year. What I want them to do is focus on the relationships with their customers rather than one transaction at a time.

  4. To create a sustainable brand identity, it is important to understand the basics of branding and its face value on the market. Only then can brand identity evolve.

  5. I recently started operating a cosmetic business, and since I’m not an expert about coming up with an effective strategy, I’m thinking of hiring a business planning service instead. I agree with you that it would be best to invest in brand equity, which could help with the company’s sales. You also made a pretty good point about how a direct marketing response could attract more customers.

    1. Hi Rachel. I think it is a good thing that you recognize that you could use help in planning out the brand strategy for your business. I need advisors to help me figure out “what’s next” for BMB because I am so deep into the weeds that it is hard to pull back to the 50,000 foot view. Cosmetics is an industry where the value of brands can be quite high; when Kylie Cosmetics was sold to Coty, it was valued at $1.2 billion, and most of that was the value built into the brand.

  6. Thanks for posting such a useful article. Brand marketing is a way to make people realize in a special way about a product. It differentiates other products from a particular product and gives it new recognition in the market.

  7. After going a handful of your blog, I truly appreciate your technique of writing blog in such informative way. I bookmarked it to my bookmark webpage checklist and will be checking back in the near future. Please check out my website as well and let me know what you think.

  8. Thank you! I love “Good marketing makes the company look smart. Great marketing makes the customers feel smart.” I was recently doing a competitive review and was amazed how long it took the websites of these small businesses to mention the customer. The customer is the star of the show, not the brand!

  9. Remember, whether you try to create a movement like Apple, tell a story like Nike or have great brand recognition like McDonalds, the more thorough you are in your brand marketing, the simpler it will be to create, launch and grow with each of your marketing campaigns.

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