The ClaimIn my training program, Brand Management: From Concept to Equity, I claim that "Brand Management" is the new marketing. Some of the brightest participants to the course argued that this is an exaggeration. Brand management is too narrow a concept, they say, to replace, displace or override a proven discipline such as marketing. Universities, they contend, routinely offer courses and degrees in marketing not branding; and, comparatively, the demand for marketers on any job-search website or in the specialized pages of newspapers far outnumbers the demand for brand managers. As such, those alert participants continue, how can you Mr. facilitator (me), make such an outlandish claim? At most, they concede, brand management is a branch of marketing; an important or interesting branch maybe, but nevertheless only a branch.
What's the Value of Definitions?
Let's examine the issue a little bit more closely. Philip Kottler defined marketing as ‘human activity directed at satisfying wants and needs through processes'. This definition is really so encompassing that one may find it hard to limit it to a single teachable discipline. Such a broad definition could justify claims that marketing is the umbrella under which disciplines such as management, leadership, psychology, finance, accounting, even IT, engineering, and more would take cover. I don't have an issue with such a description; I really don't: As a lifelong marketer I often had to use similar descriptions to defend the independence of my department against the onslaught of short-sighted bureaucrats. Other disciplines also use wide definitions to inflate their worth. Look at this one for finance management: ‘The planning, directing, monitoring, organizing and controlling of the monetary resources of an organization'. Looking at Finance in this way would make all other disciplines subservient. Deciding on which products to sell, whom to sell to and how to sell will affect generation of profit and cash; therefore, according to the definition, should fall under the responsibility of ‘Finance'. However I think we all agree that these are the rightful realms of marketing. The point is that business disciplines are too intertwined at the top for ‘definitions' to be a clear guide for segregation.
Let's Start with the ABC
So, to explain my claim, I will use a different approach. The A B C of marketing, the first thing taught in any marketing class is the 4 Ps. These Ps, all of us marketers know, represent Product, Place, Promotion and Price. Of course, each one of those Ps is expanded into its different components; ‘Place' for example is made up of the channel of distribution and its various elements, the geographical reach of the product, the outlets where it would be available, where it will be stocked, the location inside the outlets where you will find the product etc... And marketing we are taught, is the balancing of all these components in order to satisfy the mission and vision of the organization as related to the satisfaction of customer needs.
Brand management has to do with positioning, in the mind of the customer, a certain impression of a product so that, in the end, she chooses ours over that of any other. We are taught that in order to achieve that feat brand management has to balance not only the four Ps of marketing but three additional ones also. The first P is Promise, for ‘Brand Promise'; the last P is Performance as the performance of the brand in the market; the five ‘bridge' Ps are made up of the original Product, Place, Promotion and Price of marketing and include People as an additional key component. So, starting with the brand promise we should achieve performance by manipulating the five other Ps. At seven Ps against four, I'd say brand management needs not have any feeling of inadequacy.
A Complementary Perspective
Whichever way I look at it, I see no strict separation between marketing and brand management. The aim of both is to manage products or services so that their chances of success are maximized. But brand management is a relatively newer, more dynamic discipline. Without neglecting any of the precepts of marketing it expands some areas and emphasizes others in line with our increased understanding of how the mind works:
What do YOU think?
- Product positioning in marketing looks at the relative position of the product Vs its competitors in the market; Brand positioning will add to that the way this position is perceived by the mind of the customer. All in all, a very powerful improvement!
- Customer loyalty is a concept of great importance in marketing. It is the pinnacle of customer segregation: Loyal customers are highly desirable and marketing gives us tools to manage this group. Brand loyalty looks at the same thing but with greater emphasis on understanding how the brand interacts with the mind of the customer making her or him loyal. A useful new perspective when attempting to understand what makes a customer loyal.
There is of course much more that can be said on this matter. So, I would like to close this article by asking you, the reader, about your opinion regarding what some of the participants to my training program called an "outlandish claim". Why do you agree (or not) that Brand Management is the new Marketing? Let me hear from you.