We think not! Ok so here is the situation I have run into and thought it might be an interesting example to show the difference. Over the years I have personally attended many Fort Worth Ad Club meetings and they seem to put on a good show with some great presenters.
For whatever reason I had never joined I guess I didn't see the value since I was still able to attend any event (obviously at a little higher price then members pay). I do think though that their web site was one thing holding them back since it was not useful and not tied to the national American Advertising Federation (their new site is much better). Since membership seemed to be dropping the Fort Worth Ad Club needed to make some changes.
They decided to reposition & rebrand themselves to build new interest. They have done a great job of rebuilding interest but there are a few things I see that do not work so well and this comes back to the reason for this article. The Ad Club tried positioning themselves as the experts in the industry to inspire people to join and attend their new efforts and programming. The problem is they changed their name from the Fort Worth Ad Club to the Fort Worth chapter of the American Advertising Federation. This change was made a while ago (maybe a few years) and since this is such a mouthful they use AAF as their new name.
Ok, here is the error in branding that is causing me to write this article, I had to go research what AAF stood for. I talk to board members regularly and I screw up the name all the time. You see, AAF doesn't roll off the tongue and obviously means nothing. I am in the industry and can't remember AAF let alone what AAF stands for since this really isn't publicized. These are leaders in the local advertising community and in my mind they obviously do not understand branding.
Ad Club is easier on the ear and tongue than AAF and it also says what the organization is all about. Although, I agree that tapping into the national AAF to bring more value to the members is a great idea, I do not think changing the name works.
What should they have done? Well first off, I think they should have rebranded the old name the "Ad Club" (basically just redesign the logo to make it more powerful). Then maybe the add a tagline like the Fort Worth Chapter of the American Advertising Federation. I know it is long, but spelling it out helps people understand exactly what the organization is all about.
Please keep in mind, I am not trying to bash the Ad Club, I think it is a good organization. I just think that being advertising professionals we should have either talked to a branding expert to help with the rebrand or done a little research or something to create a stronger more memorable brand. Honestly, the real problem is this was probably done on a whim with the board members of the time. They probably weren't thinking longterm and probably never name a company, product or service before. Positioing is very important.
The point is this, so many companies do not understand the difference between advertising, branding, marketing, graphic design and they go out and hire an ad agency to do their brand, a graphic designer to do their advertising, a web programmer to design their logo, etc.
In my mind branding is the big picture stuff. It defines what your company looks like, feels like and how you product or service makes the customer feel.
Starbucks created a strong brand experience in their store, this is larger than anything an ad could do. Advertising on the other hand is a tool to accomplish some of this.
We see advertising as a means to build brand awareness and also when done properly either generate leads for the sales team or create offers to start closing sales (depends on the size or price of the item being sold usually).
Obviously, in Starbucks case the advertising is to continue the feel of the store through images, remind people to go to the store (both building brand awareness), and lastly making an offer to try their new Pumpkin Nut Latte (driving traffic the the store to sell more of that limited time offer).
I recommend any company that is looking to hire anyone in any area of these industries, makes sure they know what they are getting. Heck, maybe interview one of each group to see who fits your exact needs because as I mentioned not all advertising people understand branding and positioning.
We wish you all a lot of luck for your next advertising, marketing or branding projects and hope you find the right professional for your company.