The engine of marketing is the brand of a company. Why? If any part of an engine is out of balance (calibration or measurement) the engine fails to deliver its power potential—or may even fail to work at all.

If carburation is out of adjustment the wrong fuel mixture will be delivered to the engine and it will bog and choke. If the timing is off, same thing in essence, the engine won’t run with the full power for which it was designed. If the piston rings are bad the engine will burn oil, and again, less power than expected. And . . . if any key component of the engine is broken it simply won’t run at all.

Much like the brand of a company. If the story of a brand doesn’t match with what the company is truly about it will be as if the carburation or timing is off. If the story fails to connect with an audience, it will be as if the timing belt is broken and the engine won’t run.

And if the brand of a company is the engine, the marketing strategy is the chassis, which means the frame, the wheels, the shell and substructure of the car. If we have a rock-solid brand without a chassis, the engine will sit on the shop floor as a hump of useless metal. Once we build a chassis around the engine (a marketing strategy around a solid brand) we have something of real potential.

However, we will still need all the control mechanisms to make the car go—the steering wheel, the pedals, cables and wires that deliver the signals to safely and effectively drive the car.

The control mechanisms of marketing are like the tactics and the communication mediums we use to execute our marketing. It’s how we do our marketing. So, if we create an awesome brand and develop a rock-solid marketing strategy, but never execute on the strategy, it’s as if we just built or restored an amazing car, but never gave it the means for it to drive.

Metaphors are useful because they give us fun and intriguing ways to looking at problems. Dan Kennedy created the “Marketing Triangle” concept to convey the same thing, which is the point of this message—that too much focus on either the brand, the strategy, or the means by which we execute our marketing strategy will place our marketing out of balance and results will suffer.

Much the same if we neglect any one component of our marketing. If we don’t have a rock-solid brand and yet we feel with more marketing execution we’ll get to where we want to go, which is tantamount to entering a race car in a match with an engine that hasn’t been worked on in years.

And yet this happens all the time. We think with a quick and inexpensive fix we can keep the car on the road for another six months to a year. We put off the time and expense of doing the deeper engine work because we can sense the amount of effort it will take. Or we hire a marketing guru to help us build an amazing marketing strategy or we run more ads or print more rack cards, without the deeper foundational work.

We know this because when we talk with marketing guru’s, which we frequently do, they all share frustration with trying to help people to be more effective with their marketing when a portion of their clients are not clear on their message.

We say this to you, because we ourselves also need to be reminded of this simple truth. Even as a brand strategy company, we need to continually focus on our engine, to keep it fine-tuned, which means to be relevant, clear and resonant.

P.S. We’d like to give a shout out to Jimmy Tran of Way Beyond Social for the inspiration for this post.

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