Product marketing vs. brand marketing
The terms “product marketing” and “brand marketing” get tossed around in casual marketing conversations, but do you know exactly what they refer to? It’s OK if you don’t. That’s why DemandZEN is here to go over product marketing vs. brand marketing. By your next marketing meeting, you’ll be chiming in.
Product marketing is about one thing: the product. Who makes the product doesn’t really matter. You won’t be marketing based on track record in product marketing. All that matters is what you can say about the product: features, benefits, use cases, testimonials, and demonstrations.
You’re not concerned about what the company behind the product brings to the table but rather the individual offerings of a product or service. Product marketers should know their product inside and out: what it can and can’t do, what products are similar to theirs, and what makes their product the best.
This requires a lot of research to understand which features are most important to the customer (or prospective customer).
Conducting surveys to find out what people like and dislike is an absolute necessity in product marketing. Product marketers usually work closely with the product development team. The two teams form a symbiotic relationship, sharing feedback, new feature benefits, and determining (together) how to present the product in the best light. While the marketer crafts the campaigns and messaging, the product development team has a big hand in terminology and features. Each of these teams depend upon one another.
If product marketing is the head, then brand marketing is the heart.
When we refer to a “brand,” we’re referring to everything that encompasses a company: their logo, color scheme, products, culture, attitude, style, voice—you name it! It’s the mise en scène of the marketing world, since brand marketing also refers to absolutely anything visible about a company.
“Building a brand” is not about marketing your products, but instead about defining who you are as a company. Elements of brand marketing include a mission statement, style guide, or your logo. Brand marketing is concerned with spreading awareness rather than explaining how something works or what benefits you’re likely to get out of it. Take a look at the clothing company Threads For Thought: They have a mission of providing environmentally friendly and sustainable clothing that doesn’t use child or low-income laborers. This is reflected in their logo (a peace sign!) as well as the sales they choose to run. They don’t celebrate Earth Day, they celebrate Earth Week.
Promoting your brand is important for companies with a lot of competitors who provide similar products or services. A lot of times, buyers are won with a little flash, good customer service, an impressively humanitarian mission statement, and good ethics (and I don’t just mean business ethics). While your product marketing (and your product) has to be on point, you have to make sure these elements are in place so you don’t lose the emotionally-driven buyers.
Which is better?
There’s no right or wrong answer to which is better when you’re looking at product marketing vs. brand marketing. Just like with most things in marketing, certain companies will value one over another. Sometimes it depends on how new a business is. Older, well-established organizations with well-defined products and competitors (i.e. Pepsi and Coke) are more likely to focus their attention on brand awareness. On the other hand, start-ups with no competitors need to ensure their audience knows what their product is and exactly what it does.
However, there are plenty of companies that fall in-between those two extremes. Some start-ups enter the market with dozens of competitors, so they need to work on differentiating themselves from those that already exist. Brand marketing is going to be just as important as (and probably more important than) product marketing for these companies. Meanwhile, older companies that decide to diversify their offering will need to work on defining their new products.
But that’s not to say that you should commit to product marketing and abandon brand marketing, or vice versa. This is not a one or the other situation. Both need to exist if you want a well-rounded marketing strategy. Teams will sometimes split into brand and product marketers to cover all the bases, though they should still work together. Brand and product marketing are part of the same thread. Many times the reason a particular feature exists in a product is because of a company’s mission statement. Brand marketing shouldn’t be purely emotional, and product marketing shouldn’t be all logic—find a happy medium where the personality of your company and the value you offer users is present no matter what type of campaign you run.