Separating Your Business Model from Your Brand

By Stephanie Diamond

To get the most out of your content marketing strategy, you need to understand two important concepts: business model and brand. After looking at the meaning of each of these concepts, you’ll find it easier to effectively address each one.

  • Your business model: Your business model describes how you make money. This concept is inward facing, meaning that you look inside your company to see what drives your revenue. You consider operations, suppliers, and all the things that go into delivering a sound product.

  • Your brand: Your brand is what your company means to your customers. Regardless of how you make your money, your brand is defined by the connections it makes in the minds of your customers. You take into account things like customer data, retention, and buying habits to determine what your brand stands for. You can declare what your brand means to your customers, but you can’t make them believe it. They tell you. On social media, this message is amplified a hundred-fold.

Here’s an example of how a business model and a brand go hand in hand. Apple makes its money by selling electronic gadgets that help people do things, such as communicate with the world in myriad ways. Apple’s current mission statement reads as follows:

“Apple designs Macs, the best personal computers in the world, along with OS X, iLife, iWork and professional software. Apple leads the digital music revolution with its iPods and iTunes online store. Apple has reinvented the mobile phone with its revolutionary iPhone and App store, and is defining the future of mobile media and computing devices with iPad.”

When you buy an Apple product, you find that it employs cutting-edge design and performs well. This helps you see the value of purchasing other Apple products, like an iPad or a MacBook Air. Why? Because they work seamlessly together. Furthermore, you see the value of using the iTunes store to buy apps that work with your products. Apple would be a successful company by virtue of the products it creates. But by making its products work together in their own “ecosystem,” Apple has created a strong business model that makes it the world’s most valuable brand, according to Forbes. Almost no one disagrees.

So what does the Apple brand mean? To understand that, you have to look at Apple customers. They are extremely loyal and see themselves as belonging to a world-wide community of people who think differently. They have a relationship with the company that can’t easily be damaged. They stand in long lines to wait for newly released products, hoping to be able to snag the latest model.

Apple clearly understands the role its products play in the life of its customers. Do you understand your company’s role? This understanding is critical to being a successful company. If you don’t understand the brand value of your company, you will have weak content marketing efforts.