Marketing Design: Navigating the Journey From Unknown to Known

Journey Log 1: Creating Brand Power For Professional Services


Markets are no respecter of legacy…only brand power. Those with the most brand power win. Marketing design is the creation of brand power and the secret to capturing more market share. One industry that could greatly benefit from updating their marketing design is professional services. Here's why...

When you're an expert at what you do, it's challenging to communicate your value in a way that non-experts (e.g. your clients and employees) can understand and relate to. The journey that marketing design takes you on empowers you to see your business through the eyes of people who don't know what you know. When you're an expert, gaining that insight can only be achieved with the help of an outside perspective because you're too smart for your own good.

If done correctly, marketing design changes the way you think about what you do, and therefore, how you talk about it too. Suddenly it's easy for non-experts to recognize your value and engage in a thoughtful conversation with you. And that's just the beginning. Marketing design is the process of making it easier for you to get in front of people who need what you sell. It improves your networking conversations, cross-selling abilities and it focuses where you spend your budget.

As a professional service provider, raising your profile and making your value more visible isn’t easy. It requires a systematic approach to brand management and a good amount of marketing personalization for each Member. Unfortunately, some professional service firms don’t understand the holistic and dedicated approach necessary to make themselves relevant today. The big picture for them hasn't been made easy to see and so they instinctually are hesitant to act. Firm leaders are saying discussions on such matters become stagnant at the partner level due to fear of the unknown. They say things like, “We've done that before and it didn't work,” and minimize the value of marketing programs altogether. The goal of this article is to show you how marketing design can get your firm to it's growth destination, so you can contend with such undermining statements.

The truth is the way people make buying decisions has changed. What employees expect from their employer has changed. If you're not adjusting and evolving your marketing to increase your firm’s brand power, your firm will be left behind. Markets are no respecter of legacy, only brand power. A prime example of this is the case of Blockbuster vs. Netflix. 

Netflix was an emerging brand in an industry that Blockbuster dominated. This is their tale; The Great Dane (Blockbuster) and the Chihuahua (Netflix).


The “Tail” of Two Dogs

Photo by Eriklam/iStock / Getty Images

Photo by Eriklam/iStock / Getty Images

As an old-timer in the neighborhood, the Great Dane was revered as a powerful and wise leader. The Chihuahua was the newest addition to the area and was thought to be young, naive and perhaps a nuisance. The Chihuahua tried to be the Great Dane's friend. In fact, it offered the Great Dane a chance to try the latest brand of dog food that only he had access to, but the Great Dane scoffed at it. He was more interested in his traditional canine fare. After all, it's kept him in great shape all these years. Why try something new? The Chihuahua was shunned for his cavalier choice in cuisine. As it turned out, this new dog food was like a superfood and had tremendous health benefits.

Over time, the Chihuahua began to get leaner, more energetic, and his coat shined for all to see. He was looking very attractive. The Great Dane tried not to notice but eventually was not looking so healthy in comparison. His owners also took note of the young, healthy, energetic and easier managed Chihuahua on the block and admired his attributes. The Great Dane saw this and began to worry if they still liked his breed. He tried to create his own version of the miracle food but failed and by that time it was too late. The Chihuahua craze was in full swing now and he became the new head honcho. Eventually, all the houses in the neighborhood got a Chihuahua. The Great Dane's owners were not immune to its allure and they too bought a Chihuahua. It was conveniently sized, required less maintenance, and less money to feed. It was the perfect house dog. This made the Great Dane’s clunky and cumbersome nature more and more apparent. Eventually, he was put outside and received less and less attention. He continued to age and soon died.

As it goes, Netflix was the only “dog” left standing. It wasn't just a better-looking image that created their overtaking. They were able to consistently deliver on a more compelling value promise. They got rid of penalty payments! That was revolutionary for the video rental industry. Heck, they got rid of the whole store all together with their mail order DVDs and eventual streaming service. In essence, Netflix observed the weaknesses of Blockbuster's business model and customer loyalty factors and then exploited them by offering an alternative absent of these flaws. They attracted more and more customers until they dominated the market and put Blockbuster out of business. That's marketing design at it's finest.

Effective marketing design is brand power for business. There is no substitute for it. Companies with the foresight to evolve their brand to fit the current market environment will emerge as leaders. Those that don't will struggle to catch up and eventually go out of business. On the tail end of things, we see who is still around and who gets put out to pasture. The type of success Netflix has experienced is not achieved by accident. It's achieved intentionally and by design; marketing design.

Brand Power For Growing Businesses


Marketing Design is the end and beginning of your brand power. The efficacy of your participation in a contest over market share. Marketing design has three main aspects: marketing strategy, brand design, and marketing management. You can think of them as your “battle plan,” "weapons," and "armor of choice" before stepping onto the field to compete. If they're successful, they keep your business relevant and your brand visible in an incredibly noisy universe.

Brand power is the culmination of these things working together, in sync toward the same goal: growing your business in an intentional manner and direction. It is looking toward the battles ahead, sharpening your tools, and fortifying your ability to stand and fight. All in all, it is the preparation to win. In any competitive market, the most brand power wins.

In other words, marketing design keeps your brand known, steers it away from the black hole of irrelevance, and consistently in front of the right audience. If you are a new brand it's what helps you emerge as a contender. If your brand is established, it is key to maintaining and expanding your market position.  Remaining relevant always requires reinvention or rebranding so marketing design is not a “one and done” operation. Rather, a constant evolution requiring regular oversight and responsive action. No matter your current market position, effective marketing design is critical to business success.


The Three Aspects Of Marketing Design

  1. Marketing Strategy -- "The Battle Plan" is a vision and set of parameters that aligns leaders and directs marketing initiatives.

  2. Brand Design -- "The Weapons" are the Tools that create and maintain a company's image.

  3. Marketing Management — "The Armor" is The protector of the vision, wielder of "The Weapons" and producer of presence for sales opportunities.  


Now that you know what marketing design is, it's time to figure out how to go about designing marketing for your firm. With so many different aspects to marketing design, it is easy to understand why those who don't have it as a core competency have trouble navigating the journey. 

In our next blog, we'll dive deeper into the aspect of Marketing Strategy and how outstanding results start with thought leadership in the boardroom. 

In the meantime, ask yourself these questions:

Where will your company be in the next 5-10 years?

Is it reaping the rewards of a well thought out strategic plan?

Or, is it light years behind others in the market and having to play catch up?