The boundaries between branding and marketing are often blurred, or insubstantial in peoples’ minds. Many group the two together, using marketing as an all-encompassing term and principle by which they attempt to publicize their business. But the distinction between marketing and branding is critical to effectively communicating with your target audience, and ultimately driving the sales your company needs to succeed. Because people have a difficult time noting the difference, we receive a lot of inquiries from small businesses on which would be best for them to invest in and when. To answer this question, let’s start with defining both.
Your brand exists in your customer’s mind. It is the unique, authentic, singular value you offer to your customers. It inspires the culture of your company, and it is communicated to your customers every time they see, feel, touch, interact with, or experience your brand—NOT solely when they experience a marketing message.
Everything your company does or creates is your brand. This is why it’s so important to have a cohesive strategy across all departments and elements of your company.
WHILE YOUR BRAND IS WHO YOU ARE. MARKETING IS YOUR MESSAGE.
Marketing is defined as “the action or business of promoting and selling products or services, including market research and advertising”.
Compared to branding, marketing is easier to control and to comprehend, mostly because it’s visual and the data can be directly analyzed. Marketing is storytelling. You write the headlines, you choose the art, you post to social media, you run campaigns. You measure conversions or awareness and determine whether your marketing is a success or a failure.
Marketing grabs someone’s attention.Branding keeps someone’s attention.
Without marketing, no one will know about your product/service. Without branding, no one will care.
In fact, the two are so intertwined and codependent that The Content Marketing Institute reported that 77% of marketing leaders say a strong brand is critical to their growth and marketing plans.
Now that we know the difference in marketing and branding, we can answer the question of which you should invest in and when. If you are looking to sell a product or service to make a quick dollar, invest in marketing. If you are looking to build an audience, community, and loyal customer base that will keep coming back, invest in branding first and marketing second.
In an age of mass marketing and countless social media ads being fed to you at your fingertips, brand identity and authenticity are the tools that will enable you to gain customers, retain them as loyal customers, and turn them into advocates. The strongest brands build marketing campaigns that work hand in hand with their brand identity, positioning, and strategy. They listen to their customers, and let their values, hopes, and desires define the brand’s position—then carefully craft marketing campaigns to communicate that value through simple, creative, show-stopping campaigns.