Branding vs. Marketing

Ever wonder what's the difference between branding and marketing? If so, you are not alone. While connected, there are minute differences between the two. It is essential to understand both to effectively utilize them together. Let's take 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 answer questions that go beyond industry generalizations and services or products offered. 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?
  • How do you want people to feel when they think of your business?

Answering the previous questions will help you to understand the difference between branding and marketing. Invest your time in providing honest 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 culture. Therefore, what you build on the inside, is what will dictate what your customers see 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 define your marketing efforts.

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. While there are many methods of both online and offline marketing to consider, some of the most common include:

  • Print Media
  • Email Marketing
  • Trade Shows
  • SEO
  • Content Marketing
  • Social Media Marketing
  • PPC
  • Mobile Marketing
  • Television & Radio

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 startup, it is essential to clearly define who you are as a brand before you begin to determine your specific marketing methods, tools, strategies, and tactics. Your brand is what will keep your clients coming back for more, it is the foundation to 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. As an example, consider where you order and pick-up prescriptions for your family. Whether the pharmacy or drugstore is locally owned or part of a larger chain, they have built your trust and your loyalty, and most likely you have been a customer 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 growth or expanded services offered but is rarely an overhaul of core principals, mission, or values. Keep in mind that branding is something you and your team must do on a daily basis with every transaction processed, with every phone call and email received.

When speaking of branding vs. marketing, branding is who you are while marketing is how you attract consumer attention. You can also think of branding as the way you keep current clients and marketing as how you attract new clients.

Where Branding & Marketing Overlap

While branding and marketing are distinctly different, there is one area where they overlap. When selecting imagery to be utilized on an ongoing basis, branding and marketing become one. 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 represent your brand and that they will also play a substantial role in your ongoing marketing strategy.

Branding is what generates a timeless connection. Even if your current marketing efforts are designed to engage, it is 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.