I have recently seen a flurry of RFPs for “Branding and Web Design”, “Branding and Public Relations” and “Branding and Advertising”. These RFPs came quickly to mind when I read this week’s blog from my friend, Marcus Osborne at FusionBrand in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia.
Marcus says, “As the consumer landscape changes and consumer habits and the purchase decision-making process evolves, it is imperative that brand owners understand where, when and how to spend their valuable and increasingly limited resources. Historically advertising agencies defined and controlled a brand’s message and through which channels it was broadcast. They would then blitz consumers with intrusive advertising and messages. In the past, branding and advertising used to be elements of marketing. Today, marketing and advertising are now part of branding and it is the brand consultant you should look to if you want to build a brand.”
Marcus then provides nine excellent points outlining the difference between an advertising agency and a brand consultancy to assist brand owners in making informed decisions on who should build their brand.
The first important consideration is to recognize that the brand strategy and implementation are not the same thing. The project should be divided into two stages: (1) the formulation of the brand strategy, requiring strong research, analytical and strategic skills, and in the case of city and downtown branding, a detailed knowledge of tourism, economic development, product development and placemaking, and (2) the strategy implementation, possibly requiring advertising, web design, public relations, and publishing expertise. While some firms will claim to do both, it pays to gain a clear understanding of the depth of their experience. Recruit specialists appropriate to each phase.
We are starting to see an emerging awareness among many cities and destinations, and even their communications agencies, of an increasing appreciation for the specialist expertise needed to address the complexities and demands of brand strategy development. We have experienced this when some advertising agencies have wisely recognized that they were not place brand strategists and hired us to develop the brand strategy component for their clients.
Marcus Osborne makes some excellent points here.