If Sales is a sprint and Marketing is a marathon, then Branding is a triathlon.

If you’re responsible for corporate or product branding, you have to be in it for the long run. The very long run. Look at brands that are leaders in their categories [Coca-Cola, FedEx, IBM, GE, McDonald’s, Toyota, Google, Amazon, and Apple] and it’s clear they’ve been winning their triathlons for years, decades, even centuries.

The Sales function understands the role of marketing and the value of branding. But it can all go out the window when the numbers aren’t being hit. Bringing in the quarter can mean selling out the brand. That can erode everything Marketing and Branding is trying to do.

The Marketing function is more medium-term focused. But pressure to launch new products, break into markets, appeal to more target audiences and deal with corporate expectations can create too much brand stretch that stings with a resounding snap!

The Branding function, on the other hand, takes the long view because a brand has to stand the test of time. [See brand examples above.] It’s a grueling race to build long-term brand value despite the ups and downs of quarterly sales goals and yearly marketing plans. The race is won by being meaningful, differentiated, relevant and adaptable—year after year. And like triathletes, brand stakeholders do many things well, while always keeping their eye on the prize. They overcome obstacles, beat the competition, bob and weave through economic bears and bulls, and never lose confidence, stamina or focus.

Are you ready for the triathlon of your career? It’s worth the race.

Michael Friend

Author Michael Friend

Michael is the founder and Chief Branding Officer of Experra Branding Group, LLC, a brand consultancy that works exclusively with printing, imaging, product identification, converting and substrate technology companies to deliver short-term results and long-term value. He’s a brand strategist, business consultant and creative director with a passion for helping his global enterprise clients leverage the power of branding to crystallize corporate positioning, launch differentiated products, improve business processes and increase sales.

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