The American Marketing Association defines a brand as a "name, term, sign, symbol or design, or a combination of them intended to identify the goods and services of one seller or group of sellers to differentiate them from those of other sellers. In other words, branding is not about getting your potential clients to choose you over your competition. Branding is about getting your potential clients to see you as the only one that provides a solution to their problem. A solid brand should (1) deliver your message clearly, (2) confirm your credibility, (3) connect with your potential clients emotionally, (4) motivate them to hire you, (5) create client loyalty. A good brand will help you reside in the hearts and minds of your clients and potential clients as it becomes an integrated memory of your clients' and potential clients' perceptions and experiences with you.
Once you invest, research, define, and build your brand, you must use it as part of your integrated marketing strategy. Your advertising strategy. In other words, where and when are you going to publicize your image? Your brand? What goals do you need to achieve with your marketing efforts? How does your marketing strategy mesh with your business goals? Of course, they should go hand-in-hand. A marketing plan will then describe how you are going to achieve your marketing goals. Applying your strategy is done by following your plan from point A to point B. If you put the proverbial cart before the horse, you will likely end up wasting valuable time trying to bring in new business and cultivate deeper relationships with exisiting busienss. It is critical to understand the "what" before you follow through with the "how." In short, strategy is the thinking. Planning is the doing.