What is the fundamental difference between advertising and branding? While they might be amply distinct, I believe the key difference between the two is who they target. The primary -actually sole- focus of advertising is customers, which is understandable. On the other hand, branding practitioners need to have a wider concentration. They work with “key stakeholders” of an organization. Why? Because a company’s reputation extends beyond its customer base.
The fundamental difference between advertising and branding is who they target.
In organizational development literature, any constituency which has the power to affect success is considered a “key stakeholder.” Given their importance for your organisation, you should have a systematic approach to discover their needs, wants, perceptions and behaviours. But to do that, first, you need to know who they are.
How do you figure your stakeholders?
You can start by categorizing your stakeholders. At this stage, using a two-by-two matrix could be helpful. Put Value on the vertical axis and Importance on the horizontal. Remember that some of your stakeholders receive value, while others deliver it. Likewise, some of your stakeholders are indispensable for your existence, whereas others merely guide your success.
Next, write down the names of the four categories: Commercial (upper right), organizational (lower right), community & influencers (upper left), and collaborators (lower left.)
- Commercial (Primary stakeholders who receive value)
- Current customers
- Potential customers
- Organizational (Primary stakeholders who provide value)
- Potential recruits
- Senior management
- Board of Directors
- Community & influencers (Secondary stakeholders who receive value)
- Local community
- Advocacy groups
- Opinion leaders
- Industry analysts
- Potential investors
- Professional associations
- Collaborators (Secondary stakeholders who provide value)
- Distributors – vendors
- Strategic alliances
As discussed above, this exercise will provide you with a rather-generic list of stakeholders. For instance, an NGO and a retail brand might end up having similar constituencies – which is perfectly fine. Remember, at this point, our goal is to identify -not prioritize- your stakeholders.
The second installment of this series will focus on how to filter through the list of stakeholders and find the key ones. In the meantime feel free to let me know if my list misses anyone.
Today’s actionable tip: If you want to reposition your brand, you may benefit picking the brain of a brand consultant, who has experience working with complex stakeholders. By acknowledging the far-reaching impact of your stakeholders, you could increase the likelihood of your project’s success.