Branding and marketing are two concepts that are often confused, or mistakenly thought of one and the same. While the two are definitely closely related, they also have their important distinctions. If you own a business, you’ve got to be able to understand both branding and marketing, so that you can use them effectively.
So, let’s dive into the two terms and break down what each one actually means and how they differ. We’ll also cover the connection between them, and how you can use them to grow and establish a strong business.
What is branding?
I’ve written a pretty detailed response to answer that question here, so I’ll keep this as succinct as possible. Your brand is what your customers think of your business and the relationship you have with them. Then, branding is the way you build this relationship, by establishing your business’s values, goals, the way it speaks and connects to customers, the aesthetics, the personality and more.
Your brand goes beyond just what your business does, and what kind of products or services it offers. It’s about the experience that comes with engaging with your business.
What is marketing?
Marketing is about the tools and methods you use to get your brand in front of your audience. It’s often described as a “push” tactic, while branding is more of a “pull”. While branding sets the tone and defines the experience of your business, marketing is an active approach that aims to promote your business by putting it in front of people.
Some methods of marketing include:
- Social media marketing
- Ads on Facebook, Google, LinkedIn etc.
- Print campaigns
- Promotional activities
What should come first?
For the most effective results, marketing follows branding i.e. get your branding straight first. After all, branding has to be there to support your marketing efforts, in order to get the most out of it. Marketing without branding can feel empty and superficial, because there isn’t a compelling message driving the strategy. That key message comes from understanding your brand.
See, as well as promoting your services, marketing should be communicating the personality and values of your brand. You don’t just want to tell your audience what you’re selling. You want to tell them WHY they need it, and specifically why they need them from YOU.
Making sure branding and marketing work together
Every aspect of your marketing tactics should be coordinated with your brand. This include the tone of voice you use in your ads. Whether your marketing campaigns are more serious or friendly or funny. Of course the look of any visual marketing should be in line with your branding identity, and use your brand colours, typography and logo.
The marketing should always fit the brand. For example, if you have a luxury brand, having constant sales might dilute the high-end image you’re aiming for. Promoting a product for mothers on Pinterest will probably yield higher results than promoting something for teen boys (although I hear the percentage of male users on Pinterest is rising!). Having marketing that doesn’t quite follow your branding will send confusing messages to customers and can damage your branding.
On the other hand, if done well and done consistently, your branding will support your marketing to the extent that it is recognisably a part of your business, without even needing to explicitly say so. There’s a reason, for example, that most people can recognise an Apple ad on TV in the first split seconds, before you even see the product.
I hope this has helped to clear up any misconceptions you had about branding and marketing! These two things are essential for business, and it is so important to be able to both understand and use them in your business successfully.
If you’re at the stage of defining your brand, check out my free branding workbook for a step-by-step guide to creating your brand foundation.
Looking for more content? Try these:
- How you can strengthen and improve your branding
- What is brand strategy and why is it necessary for your business?
- Discovering your “why” and how it drives your business to success
- When it’s time to rebrand – signs your brand needs reviving
- How defining your core customer will boost your business
- 5 essential elements your visual brand identity needs
- How to use consistent branding to grow your business
- You need to do a brand audit, and here are the great reasons why