[Beginner - 101] Branding vs. Marketing: Finding the Difference

Have you ever contemplated the difference between branding and marketing? If so, you are not alone. While the two are undoubtedly connected, there are minute differences between the two. As a business owner it is essential that you understand branding and marketing both in great detail, so that you can effectively utilize them together. Below is a closer look at the differences between marketing and branding.

What Is Branding?

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. In order 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 your 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.

What Is Marketing?

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:
  • SEO
  • Content Marketing
  • Social Media Marketing
  • Pay Per Click Marketing
  • Mobile Marketing
  • Television
  • Radio
  • Print Campaigns
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—Marketing Or Branding?

Branding is at the core of your marketing strategy, so branding must come first. Even if you are a start up, 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. Think of restaurants and retailers in your local area (independently owned, or major corporations), it is the brand that keeps customers coming back generation after generation. As an example, consider where you order and pick up prescriptions for yourself and your family. Whether the pharmacy or drugstore you shop in is locally owned, or part of a larger chain—they have built your trust and your loyalty, and you have most likely been a customer with them for many years. While you can purchase the exact same prescriptions at any other pharmacy in town, it is their branding that keeps you coming back time and time again.
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.

Your branding includes attributes such as a high commitment to quality, community, convenience, communication—or an ongoing commitment to a specific need your target audience needs fulfilled.

Also keep in mind that branding is something you and your team must do on a daily basis, and with every transaction processed, with every phone call received, and email responded to. However, your marketing is most often partially or fully outsourced to marketing professionals. When speaking of branding vs. marketing, branding is who you are—while marketing is how you attract consumer attention. Also think of branding as the way you keep current clients, and marketing as how you attract new clients.

The One Area Branding And Marketing Overlap

While branding and marketing are distinctly different, there is one area where they overlap. When selecting imagery to be utilize on an ongoing basis, branding and marketing become one in the same. As the saying goes “A picture speaks a thousand words.” With that in mind, when you choose your company colors, graphics, and logo—remember that they must first represent your brand—but that they will also play a substantial role in your ongoing marketing campaign.

The Importance Of Understanding Branding vs. Marketing

If the difference between marketing and branding are now clear, but you are still unsure of the importance of understanding the two—it all comes down to conversions. While you could create your marketing strategies with nothing other than keyword trends, and the most effective marketing methods within your industry—your conversions will be lower if your consumers are not connected to you as a brand.

Your branding is what generates a timeless connection. Even if your current marketing efforts are designed to engage, it is the ongoing branding that keeps customers coming back. Competition is fierce, and the fact of the matter is that there are companies who offer comparable products and services—or even the exact same products and services that you offer. It is your branding that will keep your customers returning for more. It is your branding that builds loyalty and trust. It is your branding that makes you unique.

Without branding you may achieve success, but with branding your success will be far more substantial. All strong structures have a solid starting point and foundation, and understanding the difference between marketing and branding will allow you to build your foundation of branding—and your extensions via marketing.

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