What’s the Difference Between Brand Development and Promotion?

POSTED BY Greg Keating ON Jun 9, 2016 7:15:00 AM

brand development promotionimage credit: edgethreesixty via flickr cc

For CPG organizations, the difference between branding and promotion can seem confusing. In some cases, the distinction isn’t entirely clear. Investing in digital, social, or mobile promotions can drive sales along with brand awareness. In contrast, branding efforts could increase sales. Where are the lines drawn, and which method offers more benefit to your business?

“A sense of balance is required,” at least for CPG brands who hope to remain relevant for years to come writes blogger Michael Sick. Excluding either promotion or branding from your strategy could result in poor brand recognition, sales, customer loyalty, or other factors. Join us as we review the difference between branding and promotion, and discuss their respective value to CPG companies.

What is Brand Development?

Brand development is the process of answering certain questions about your brand’s identity and value. Per Adhere Creative, the three most important questions to begin developing a brand identity include:

Who are you?

Who needs you?

Why should they care?

In other words, your brand development exercises should include a focus on your ideal customers, and how you can solve their pain points.

After brand definition is complete, CPG marketing teams can work to manage and protect their brand’s identity by building out brand characteristics, measuring brand awareness, and ensuring that their brand is aligned with consumer needs.

What are the Risks of Too Much Brand Development?

If your CPG marketing strategy includes too much brand development and too little promotion, your sales could be dismal. You may understand your ideal customers perfectly, but they may have no idea who you are due to poor packaging, digital marketing, or other promotion methods. Well-developed brands that aren’t promoted in the CPG space can get discovered on grocery shelves, but they haven’t maximized their potential to build buzz.

What is Promotion?

Promotion is synonymous with marketing activities. The term can encompass various forms of digital and non-digital marketing outreach, including print advertising radio ads, television, content marketing, social, mobile, and much more. Ultimately, the best methods of promotion are entirely dependent on your ideal customers.

Promotion is a given in the CPG space, but that doesn’t mean that most brands are doing it correctly. The Progressive Grocer writes that “most” CPG promotions are incredibly ineffective and can result in a loss of funds. These poor results can result in ineffective promotion methodologies, such as in-store promotions instead of digital marketing. In other cases, poor promotion results can be caused by bad brand development.

What are the Risks of Too Much Promotion?

If your marketing strategy includes too little brand development and too much promotion, you may struggle to build customer loyalty. Your customers may like your products, but will they remember to purchase your product again in the future? Without a distinct visual brand identity, packaging, or brand promise, you may be too easy to forget. 

What’s the Solution?

The debate between “branding and marketing” is nothing new. In the CPG realm, marketing teams have weighed the benefits of investing in brand development versus promotion strategies for years. However, your CPG brand can’t compete without a solid balance of these two methodologies.

As the Tronvig Group writes, branding should come first. Without solid brand development, your promotion efforts may not yield great results. Without promotion, your brand may not win fans and promoters. However, there’s simply no question that both brand development and promotion are necessary for success. 

In order to succeed in the competitive CPG space, organizations must achieve a balance between branding (strategy) and promotion (tactical). With a well-balanced approach to competition, you can increase your chances of long-term success.

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