Brand Versus The Business – Its Time To Rediscover What Marketing Actually Means In Retail.

“The brand makes the business”. “The brand leads the business”. “If we invest in brand we create sales opportunity somewhere in the future”. I’ve heard these comments first hand – and quite recently. My hazy memory seems to recall the Bhagwan saying something similar. Give me all your money and your future will look bright.

Somehow retail professionals have allowed the concept of ‘brand’ to separate from the business. As if it exists in some parallel universe or a discrete, stand alone space.

Let’s get one thing straight. Brand is nothing more than recalled memory – memory made up from all the touch-points that interact with the customer and memory that is constantly updated by the customer’s latest experiences.

Marketing used to be an ‘all-of-business’ discipline that planned and implemented strategies and tactics to maintain profitable sales growth into the future. Today it has been marginalized in many retail businesses to be nothing more than promotion and involve promotional partners like some advertising agencies often frustrated by their own beliefs that communication is really all about ‘the brand’.

Properly integrated retail marketing starts and ends with profitable sales. With clever strategies and tactics and powerful collaborations with promotional partners, wholesale brands and other strategic partners, retail marketers help build profitable businesses by generating sales – today.

It doesn’t matter how good a customer feels about a ‘brand’, if the business can’t deliver everyday what customers need or want right here and now to buy, it is irrelevant.

Creating memory storage and retrieval devices like brand mnemonics is important and valuable. Creating communication containers and flavoring the implementation of all forms of customer experience enhancement is valuable. But only as it adds to the commercial relevance of the retail business to the customer and their ability to remember that in a way that gives us the best chance to make todays sale, tomorrow’s sale and then ones after that.

The business is the brand. Great communication helps the business to engage with the customer and reinforce the relevance it delivers to the customer.

But just as “its all about the customer” over-simplifies the business model and hides the truth, so does the statement “its all about the brand”. The brand is an outcome. An outcome of all the hard work the business does in implementation that results in touch-points with the customer. One of which is communication.

Marketing communication is very important but for its value to be realized it must be integrated into the business activities in a way that reflects, claims credit for and helps store the memories of the value of the retail business to the customer.