Many companies, big and small, don’t understand the important differences between branding and marketing. The difference isn’t just misunderstood in business; it’s often misunderstood within marketing departments. So I want to give you an easy explanation that will help you navigate your way between the two and see their potential to improve your business.
While branding and marketing are undoubtedly connected, there are minute differences between the two. As a business owner, it is essential that you understand branding and marketing in detail, so that you can effectively utilize them together. Below is a closer look at the differences between branding and marketing.
Branding: your promise delivered (AKA your reputation)
You make a promise to customers and colleagues with everything you do. To be successful, you must deliver on that promise every single time. The idea that a brand is a logo, a name, or a color is just a tiny fraction of what a brand actually is.
Your brand is “only everything” within your company. As a result, it’s imperative to define what it stands for. You have to identify your target audience and what they want, say why you are better than your competitors and come up with a short statement that describes your brand’s purpose.
In a nutshell, branding is who you are—and marketing is how you build awareness. Branding is your strategy, while marketing encompasses your tactical goals. To determine who your brand is, you need to ask yourself several questions. Questions that go beyond industry generalizations, and services or products offered and also questions to determine who you are as a company, and more importantly, who you are as a brand. The questions below are an excellent place to begin:
What are your core principles and values?
What is your mission statement?
What inspired you to build your business?
Why do you want to offer your products or services to your target audience?
What makes you unique?
What is your internal company culture?
What is your professional sense of style?
What are your communication characteristics?
What do you want to come to mind when someone hears your business name?
How do you want people to feel when they think of your business?
How do you want customers to describe you as a company?
Answering the questions above will help you to understand the difference between branding and marketing. Invest your time in providing elaborate answers, and bounce them off your colleagues and professional mentors. What you will notice is that all of the questions are related to your internal operations and your internal culture. Therefore, what you build on the inside is what will emanate externally.
Your branding will cultivate what your consumers can expect of you, and what they will experience when they utilize your products or services. By clearly defining who you are, your branding can then be utilized to precede and underlie your marketing efforts—both today and for years to come.
Some businesses know what they are from day one and as long as they stay small and keep the same employees, then they may not need to repeat this exercise. However, for most businesses, things change – sales drop, people leave, or a competitor starts to threaten your profit. Then what do you do? If you define what your brand stands for then, it becomes easier to make decisions – who you should hire, what products to sell, how your communications should sound and even what your office environment should look like.
The key to unlocking the power of your brand is involving your employees. Take them with you through this process and have a brand expert on hand to help guide you. This does not need to be costly or take up too much time. However, once this is done, it could set up a brand strategy for your business that lasts for years.
Marketing: influencing buyers
Marketing is defined as “The management process responsible for identifying, anticipating and satisfying customer requirements profitably.” It’s about influencing the “buy decision.”
Marketing, then, is an integral part of your brand. It helps you to communicate the promise that you want customers and prospects to know about. Your marketing should also be based on your brand positioning, personality, values, and tone of voice that have all been defined and communicated among your staff.
In essence, marketing is what you do to get your message or promise to customers, while your brand is how you keep the promise made through delivery to customers and colleagues.
When speaking of marketing vs. branding, marketing refers to the tools you utilize to deliver the message of your brand. Marketing will continually change and evolve, just as the products and services you offer will continue to change and evolve. Marketing will be directly and specifically geared towards sectors of your target audience, all while supporting the core values of your brand.
Marketing is vast and wide. It can be heartfelt, funny, or serious. It can be any mix of text, keywords, photos, charts, graphs, and videos. Marketing will be performed by a variety of online and offline methods—some of the most common being:
Social Media Marketing
Pay Per Click Marketing
However, there are many other methods of both online and offline marketing for you to consider working into your marketing campaign. While marketing methods will come and go, and the methods you utilize may change drastically from year-to-year, or from season-to-season—your brand will always remain a constant.
Which comes first?
Branding is at the core of your marketing strategy, so branding must come first. Even if you are a startup, it is essential to clearly define who you are as a brand—before you begin to devise your specific marketing methods, tools, strategies, and tactics. Your brand is what will keep your clients coming back for more, it is the foundation upon which you will build consumer loyalty.
While marketing methods will evolve, and respond to current industry and cultural trends—branding remains the same. Even if you make adjustments to your brand, they will typically be in response to your growth or expanded services offered—but is rarely an overhaul of your core principals, mission, or values.