How a Branding Agency Partners with your Marketing Team

Brand Execution
Strategy

September 19, 2022

How a Branding Agency Partners with your Marketing Team

Brand Execution
Strategy
While we are a branding agency, we are sometimes mistaken for a marketing agency. It’s a pretty common mix-up.

Marketing, sometimes referred to as brand execution, is one of the services we offer, but our goal is not to replace your marketing team. We do, however, partner with companies that have existing marketing departments to integrate their brand strategy into their day-to-day efforts.

In this blog post, we will look at the difference between marketing and branding. We will talk about how partnering with a branding agency can help focus your marketing efforts so you can reach your growth goals in an authentic and strategic way.

Now’s your time to make it count.

Grab these key steps to staying accountable to your brand.
DOWNLOAD

September 19, 2022

How a Branding Agency Partners with your Marketing Team

Brand Execution
Strategy
While we are a branding agency, we are sometimes mistaken for a marketing agency. It’s a pretty common mix-up.

Marketing, sometimes referred to as brand execution, is one of the services we offer, but our goal is not to replace your marketing team. We do, however, partner with companies that have existing marketing departments to integrate their brand strategy into their day-to-day efforts.

In this blog post, we will look at the difference between marketing and branding. We will talk about how partnering with a branding agency can help focus your marketing efforts so you can reach your growth goals in an authentic and strategic way.

How do branding and marketing differ? 

Brand is the gut feeling someone has about your business. This comes from defining your brand strategy and then visually communicating it. It is every decision you make, internally and externally, to work towards your reputation goals. Branding sets guidelines on how a business makes decisions, how it trains its staff and how it interacts with its customers. Our focus as a branding agency is on developing a plan to establish your reputation and creating real, long-term value for your customers.

Marketing is the activity of spreading the word about your business to create awareness, attract new customers, make more money or achieve another goal that you have defined. Goals are typically outlined in a marketing strategy and tactics are identified to reach these goals. The execution of a marketing plan could result in a billboard, digital advertisements, a direct mail campaign and much more, depending on your goals and audience.

How do they work together?

Businesses with marketing departments partner with branding agencies for a variety of reasons. Here are a few:

  1. Insight: By working with the marketing department, who has the most knowledge of the brand’s current reputation and its customers, a brand agency can offer valuable insight to help steer and position to brand or rebrand based on the goals of the project. 
  2. Surveys: When crafting customer or employee surveys, it is helpful to work with a brand agency to create and measure the results in a non-biased way. Oftentimes we work with the marketing department to distribute the surveys, but crafting them in a way that measure the brand’s reputation from a third party often can provide more in-depth and open data. 
  3. Tapping into customers: When crafting a brand’s strategy, we define ideal customer personas. The marketing team partners with us to offer insight on who these people are and what motivates them. They also serve as a wonderful gut check when refining the personas to make them to most accurate and useful. The marketing team can then use personas for future market testing. They can also reference them when considering a new point of interaction or marketing channel. Personas are a useful tool to make decisions for the marketing team moving forward.
  4. Brand messaging: Referencing the brand’s strategy and goals and taking into consideration customer personas, a brand agency is able to craft internal and external messaging that the marketing team can lean on internally for culture building and communications and externally for customer interaction. 

Branding or rebranding

During an initial branding process or when rebranding, working with brand specialists is recommended. Because marketing professionals specialize in marketing, not branding, asking them to lead such an effort is not only out of their wheelhouse but also, likely, outside of their job description. 

By partnering with brand specialists, your business or organization can benefit from having a team of brand experts and graphic designers on their side to take the reins. Having this third-party perspective and facilitation can also allow for a more open and focused process.  This should result in a stronger strategy and identity than if you tried to handle it in-house. 

That being said, your marketing director should be an active member of this process. They possess valuable knowledge about what has been tried in the past, what has worked and what hasn’t on the marketing front. They should also be present to hear from other leaders on their team about future goals for the company so that they are privy to that information for their efforts.

At the end of the branding process, your team, including your marketing department, will have a guide that includes strategy and brand identity elements that they can then use to execute on the brand. The brand strategy will be especially useful to the marketing department as it puts together its marketing plan. Brand strategy should be used as a guide to inform the marketing plan, helping your team decide how to best connect with your ideal customers to strengthen your reputation.

Staying accountable to your brand

When you are running a company with hundreds of employees or even just 10, managing a brand is a full-time job. Companies that don’t have a brand specialist or chief brand officer (CBO) on staff often choose to work with a branding agency so that their team can stay accountable to the brand.

For us, partnering with a company for brand accountability is a great full-circle way to ensure that we are continuing to be a good partner as your build your brand. Brand accountability typically comes after we have worked with a company on brand strategy, identity and execution. 

Seeing the need for brands we have worked with to have a plan that intentionally builds their brand, we created a unique brand accountability program: Brand Operating System (BOS). The BOS system is great for large companies who are trying to build a reputation but need support and guidance to stay accountable.

Part of the work we do during the BOS process is partnering with a company’s marketing department to review how they have been executing on the brand. That could look like social media, interior design or advertising. We lead them through exercises and open discussions about how these efforts are helping or hurting their brand. The process also involves several other steps, like scorecards to rank how on-brand efforts are, goal-setting and more, all with the goal of intentionally building their reputation.

The Hardy team also serves as a facilitator in meetings throughout the year to revisit goals, identify opportunities and execute on marketing ideas. Once an idea passes through the brand filter and presents itself as a viable opportunity, we help the marketing team to brainstorm ideas for execution and put together a plan to act.

Deciding about marketing opportunities

Should I start a podcast? Advertise on a billboard? When we get a question like this from a client, we usually encourage them to pause and pull out their brand strategy. Opportunities will always present themselves, but how do you decide if an opportunity is right for your business? If it is right for your business, how can you execute that opportunity to the fullest and stay true to your brand?

One of the most powerful things your brand strategy does is give you the tools to recognize opportunities that aren’t right for your business and help you know when to say “no.” So when we get a question like this from a client, we usually invite them to meet with us to work through it. Revisiting the brand strategy and the “why” behind their motivation to pursue a certain opportunity, we can usually arrive at an answer as to whether it’s a good opportunity for them or if there are other avenues that we could pursue that would better address what they are trying to solve.

Your strategic partner

A strategic partner who knows your brand and has the skills to help your team make decisions can be a valuable resource in staying accountable to your brand. The role a branding agency can play in partnering with your marketing team will differ based on these scenarios, but the common thread is that they serve as a brand guide, collaborating with a marketing team to help make marketing decisions. To find out more about how your business could benefit from having a strategic partner on your side, contact us to learn more.

want to chat? give us a ring

We’re always eager to talk branding with interested business owners.

You might also be interested in...

September 8, 2020
October 13, 2021

Building your Brand through Web Design

read More
December 13, 2021
January 19, 2022

8 Tips For Building Brand Awareness

read More

About Us

Like our work, the Hardy Brands branding & design agency team is an embodiment of the perfect balance of strategy and creative. We’ve cultivated a team of certified brand specialists and strategists, designers, copywriters and marketing professionals who are ferocious about helping you succeed. We’re a Montana marketing agency that will constantly strive to improve your business.

learn more

Our Work

As a branding, marketing and design agency, we partner with all types of businesses, from restaurants and breweries to building and real estate professionals, nonprofits to accountants and many others. Get a better idea of who we are and what we do by visiting our Work page.

learn more