Branding, Marketing, and Sales

A Royal Flush Analogy


Can you explain the difference between Branding, Marketing, and Sales in business today? How about Digital Marketing, can you explain exactly what that encapsulates? There are of course subjective definitions to be found Online, but as businesses scramble to communicate in new ways, many of these terms are left undefined, and at the very least, not understood.

royal flush

Branding, Marketing, and Sales are three distinct disciplines, all three of which are valuable. I’ve had direct experience with each; but I can see where many do not see a difference. And for a business, that can be a very costly oversight. All three branches of outbound communication are key to growing a brand in today’s market. You can get by with one or two items working in tandem, but without all three singing in harmony, business will be left on the table.

sun tzu quote


When speaking to a client about his digital marketing initiatives, I stumbled on an easy, and fun way to describe the differences, and importance of each. My client happened to be a card shark, and so I defined each role in terms he could understand. The ace is the organization itself, the king is the brand, the queen is the marketing efforts, the jacks are sales professionals, and the 10’s are the customers. They all deliver great value to a winning hand. And coincidentally, each has a little something in common with its royal partner.



The ace—in particular the Ace of Spades—is the highest valued card in the deck. It is of the utmost importance, and in this analogy it represents the organization itself. Core values, mission, company culture from top to bottom. If you look at the rules of Poker, the highest hand that you can receive is a royal flush. The ace sits at the top of that hand, leading the foray to the 10’s. Notice how one still needs the other royal cards to be present to achieve a royal flush. That means the king, queen, and jacks are also crucial to success right along with the 10s.



The crown jewel of an organization’s communication effort is branding itself. The message, the culture, the social outreach, the visual appearance—from logo to colors, the sound, the feel, the connection to the customer; these things remain in a customer’s mind long after the rest of the marketing and sales efforts have passed by. This is how a brand is received consciously, and unconsciously. The king backs up what your marketing team is saying, and what your sales team is doing. Without the king, queens, and jacks hold far less potency. The king is also capable of changing the direction of his kingdom, which of course could be likened to a re-branding. And if the brand changes direction, the marketing message, and sales methods follow in suite.



The queen is in sync with the king; however, she’s more verbal about the message. She rules the kingdom in a more social way, which is effective and well received among the people.  Her influence stems from the king’s directives, and is meant to strengthen the reach of the kingdom. She is also excellent at finding out what the people want. Also consider the queen’s capabilities in a chess game too. She is by far the most mobil and influential piece in the game. However, that’s an analogy for another paper. Like the ace and king, one can’t have a royal flush without a queen.



The sales teams are the Jacks. They are the “boots on the ground”, outbound creators of relationships. They drive the queen, and king’s message with valor. They work closely with the queen—especially in a flush—and carry along the culture of the king on their quest to find suitable 10’s to synergize the hand. Once in a while a Jack will see a change in trends, and will sometimes work directly with the ace to adjust the king’s direction and attentiveness to the 10’s.

10 of spades


While the emphasis for aces, kings, queens, and jacks are obvious, sometimes remembering to include the 10’s as a part of the hand itself can be overlooked. The 10’s in this analogy represent the customers of an organization. Many companies emphasize what they would like their customers to know about them, while simultaneously overlooking what their customers would like to know about them. To achieve a royal flush in this case, you need to find out what the 10’s are after. This of course means the ace is almost worthless if the king, queen, and jacks can’t connect with a 10.


Make sure you are playing with a full deck of cards. If you would like a royal flush in your next hand, don’t over look any cards. And especially don’t overlook the 10’s. Start with your customer’s vantage point, and consider if their mindset matches the brand. If it doesn’t, communication will be mottled, sales will suffer, and results will be limited until new customers are found, or the brand itself changes direction.

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