You may have heard the terms “product marketing” and “brand marketing” thrown around often, sometimes with excitement, sometimes with confusion. These two distinct marketing disciplines play different, critical roles in building a successful business. Let’s dive deeper into the differences between the two, discuss why brand marketing is often misunderstood, and how product marketing can help drive brand preference and commitment in B2B companies.
Product Marketing in B2B Companies
Product marketing works on launching a new product or service) into a market as well as driving demand and usage for it. To launch a new product to the market, marketers understand the needs of their target audience, choose the most suitable messages, and decide on positioning a product clearly and differentiate it from the rest of the competitors in the market.
A simplistic objective for product marketing is to ensure the right people know about the product and understand it. Product marketing involves identifying target audiences, positioning the product in the market, and creating messaging that speaks to those audiences.
Brand Marketing in B2B Companies
Unlike product marketing, brand marketing does not focus on a specific product or solution. Instead, it works to establish the business as a unified identity that the target market can resonate with. Companies use brand marketing initiatives to build lasting relationships with their customers and prospects. It aims to create a memorable identity for your company and builds a reputation that encourages people to opt for your product or services.
The common objectives of brand marketing include:
- Understanding and influencing consumer perceptions about the brand
- Creating brand awareness
- Building brand equity
So, brand marketing and product marketing are different in:
- Brand marketing is more focused on creating a unique identity and perception for a business in the minds of consumers. In contrast, product marketing focuses on driving home the benefits of a product to an audience who is in the market for a solution to a problem.
- Brand marketing involves elements like brand messaging, visuals, values, and personality, while product marketing involves features, benefits, pricing, and distribution.
- Brand marketing is about building awareness and loyalty for a brand, while product marketing is about generating demand and revenue for a specific product or service.
Brand Marketing is Often Misunderstood
Many people assume that brand marketing is something only big companies have the time and resources to do. They believe it is all about flashy ads and sponsorships that create awareness but don’t necessarily drive revenue. However, brand marketing is much more than that – and starts from the day a founder goes into business.
Brand marketing often gets a bad rap for being something only big brands have the time and resources to do. This is quite a departure from the fact that it is more critical for challenger brands to have a unique personality that sets them apart from the other players in a market. Here’s why:
- Setting the foundation of a brand is essential: A solid brand mission and vision, a consistent message, and a unique identity are critical for building brand recognition, establishing trust, and creating customer loyalty. These do not have to be fancy, high-investment initiatives- but putting thought into these is important.
- Early-stage founders need a strong brand foundation: In the early days of a startup, the focus is understandably on building and validating the product idea. But having a clear strategy on how the business and the solution will be presented in place from the beginning can help set a startup up for success down the line.
- Building a brand is more than just a logo: It isn’t just about designing a logo and slapping it on a website. It’s about creating a comprehensive strategy encompassing everything from messaging and visuals to values and personality and ensuring consistency across touchpoints
Early-stage founders should ensure they have a solid brand mission and vision, a consistent message, and a unique identity. While they focus most of their efforts on building and validating the product idea, it is crucial to lay down the guiding principles that will determine the distinct experience offered by the product and keep customers coming back for more (renewals).
To ensure that product marketing efforts go into building a solid foundation for the brand, early-stage founders can:
- Define the brand mission and vision early on and ensure product messaging and positioning align with those goals.
- Create a unique brand identity and voice that resonates with the target audience.
- Develop a consistent and cohesive brand message that can be applied across all touchpoints, including the product.
- Use customer feedback and reviews to reinforce the brand’s reputation and values
While brand marketing is often misunderstood, it is critical for establishing a solid reputation, creating trust with customers, and differentiating a company from its competitors. By working together, brand and product marketing can create a consistent and memorable brand experience that drives business revenue and growth.
Brand Marketing and Product Marketing Complement Each Other
While brand and product marketing may seem like two separate worlds, they work together meaningfully.
- A strong brand can help sell a product: If a brand has already established trust and loyalty with its target audience, it’s easier to sell new products to that audience.
- Product marketing can reinforce a brand’s messaging: When product marketing messaging is aligned with a brand’s values and personality, it can strengthen and build upon that brand’s identity.
- Consistency across all touchpoints is key: Whether it’s a brand’s website or a product sign-up email, or phone support – consistency in messaging is crucial for building a solid brand and promoting a specific product.
Brand marketing and Product marketing complement each other at different stages of buyer’s journey.
Brand marketing influences awareness. 95% of customers are not in the market for a solution. At this point, brand marketing is important to create awareness about the category and the brand. It also helps to build trust and establish the brand’s reputation, moving the buyer down the funnel.
Product marketing comes in during the interest and consideration phases – by educating prospects about the product’s features, benefits, and value proposition, helping them evaluate and nudging them closer to a purchase decision.
At the bottom of the funnel, before the final decision – product marketing provides pricing information and help prospects make the purchase decision, while brand marketing reinforces the brand’s value proposition and helps to close the sale.
Here are a few examples of brands which integrate these two disciplines fabulously to elevate their marketing efforts.
- Intuit QuickBooks: QuickBooks is a financial management software designed for small businesses. QuickBooks’ product marketing focuses on promoting the software’s features and benefits to potential customers, while its brand marketing emphasizes the brand’s commitment to helping small businesses succeed. Together, it positions QuickBooks as the right financial management partner for a small business.
- HubSpot: HubSpot is a market-leading marketing and sales software designed for small to medium-sized businesses. HubSpot’s product marketing focuses on promoting the software’s features and benefits to potential customers, while its brand marketing emphasizes the brand’s commitment to helping businesses grow and succeed through inbound marketing.
In addition, product marketing can help build brand commitment by:
- Emphasizing the brand’s values and personality in product messaging and positioning
- Creating a consistent brand experience across all customer touchpoints, including the product and support delivery
- Leveraging customer testimonials and reviews that speak to the brand’s reputation and values
- Building a community around the product that aligns with the brand’s values and personality
In conclusion, product marketing and brand marketing are two complementary disciplines that are both essential for a business’s success. Product marketing focuses on launching new products into the market and driving demand and usage, while brand marketing establishes a business’s identity that resonates with the target market.
Product marketing and brand marketing complement each other meaningfully, with a strong brand helping to sell a product and product marketing reinforcing a brand’s messaging. The greatest weapon in a marketer’s arsenal is the consistency of message across all touchpoints, and a consistent and memorable brand experience created by the collaboration of brand and product marketing can drive business revenue and growth.
Marketing managers and founders should ensure that both marketing disciplines work together, leveraging the unique strengths of each other to drive the growth and success of a business.