Apple’s marketing budget is $5.5 billion. Microsoft’s is $17 billion. Yet, according to BrandZ’s Top 100 global brands chart, Microsoft holds the number five spot, behind brands such as McDonald’s, IBM, Google, and…Apple. Why? According to conventional wisdom, the companies that spend the most on marketing should have the best brand, right?
Not so, according to a recent article at Fast Company's Co. Design, which suggests that the days of marketing are fading. “In an increasingly transparent, digitally empowered economy, where everyone potentially can know everything, companies can no longer use the other three P's (Price, Promotion, and Place) to gain a long-term competitive advantage,” writes Jens Martin Skibsted, founder of design agency Skibsted Ideation, and Rasmus Bech Hansen, London-based strategy director at Venturethree. “These P's, in other words, are becoming strategically less significant; they are still valuable, just less so than they used to be, and they don’t provide any long-term edge.”
Is this true? That’s the ongoing debate, and one that has monumental implications for brands large and small.
Skibsted and Hansen write further:
We, however, still believe that where a company sells and distributes its offerings is becoming less important relative to what it sells. The rise of e-commerce makes it much easier for consumers to buy the best product irrespective of where it is sold. Sites like Yelp, Lonely Planet, and Zagat point consumers to restaurants, hotels, or shops that provide real value and good experiences even if they are off the beaten track. And we think Apple’s retail success has a lot to do with creating an amazing brand experience that is an extension of the product experience by offering a real service (the Genius Bar). If you have an extraordinary product, customers will find it and buy it in a transparent economy.
So, is a brand strategy more important than a marketing strategy? Can a company with a strong brand stay afloat with a small advertising budget? Can a company with a lousy brand make it by pumping money into marketing? Or, are they both necessary?
Leave your thoughts in the comment section below.