Building a thriving business in the 21st Century requires you to stay on top of a lot of technical concepts. Two of the most fundamental are marketing and branding. While it might sometimes feel like they are used interchangeably, there are some very distinct differences between the two and the strategies that drive them.
In fact, branding and marketing have several areas where they overlap, and can certainly augment each other. Yet any successful business owner needs to distinguish between marketing and branding, in order to effectively deploy them as an integral part of your digital marketing strategy.
Neither one is more important than the other when it comes to driving business success and expanding your digital marketing endeavors. Though developing your brand naturally precedes promoting it via various marketing efforts.
This means that you need to first develop a brand identity as part of your overarching message before you can effectively communicate it through your strategic marketing plan. So, we’re going to have to take a closer look at what branding is, what marketing is, and what they are not.
What Is Branding & Why It’s Important?
Branding is the strategic process of shaping your business’s brand identity in a way that helps it stick in the minds of new and loyal customers. A carefully created brand identity imbues your company with a recognizable character. It’s the first step in creating an engaging narrative on what your business has to offer, why you are in business, and where it all leads.
At the same time, a strong brand identity is also about who you’re speaking to a prospective customer to give them a clearer picture of the experience you are offering. Another important aspect of your brand identity also comes from the visual representation of key branding elements such as your logo, color palette, and fonts.
Without a clear brand identity, prospective customers will struggle to connect with your business, and what products or services you’re selling them. Effective branding and marketing can work together to leverage each other in ways that continually expand your market share.
What Is Marketing & Why It’s Important?
Marketing is the strategic practice of actively promoting your company’s products and services. An effective marketing strategy incorporates several other disciplines including:
- Market research
- Digital marketing
- Promotional advertising
- Sales strategies
- Branding & brand messaging
This means that marketing needs to use several overlapping proactive strategies to make sure that you are reaching your target audience in a way that converts them into loyal customers. This long-term development increases your ability to expand your business incrementally over time, as it is far easier to maintain loyal customers than it is to constantly have to recruit new customers with each sales cycle.
One of the more common marketing strategies involves strengthening your digital marketing presence via your website as well as social media platforms and other digital domains. The overarching goal is to first establish a robust online presence and then build on it.
This also means you’ll need to ensure that every physical location feels familiar and comfortable to users, as it seamlessly engages in the same brand identity principles. This gives you the power to connect with your target audience(s) via both online and offline brand awareness and engagement campaigns.
Understanding the Difference Between Branding & Marketing
Developing a clear and powerful brand identity needs to happen before you implement any proactive marketing strategies. Yet both have a lot of shared goals. The goal isn’t to feel like you have to choose one over the other. Instead, the goal should be to find strategic ways for one to complement the other for more effective leverage in your niche.
Why Branding Needs to Come Before Marketing
Your company’s brand identity serves as the firm foundation for all of your marketing strategies. If you don’t have a clearly developed brand persona with a consistent, unified tone of voice potential customers are unlikely to pay attention to you. Without a strong brand identity, you lose perceived value in the products and services you offer.
What Marketing Does
An effective marketing strategy needs to deliver on both short-term and long-term sales goals. Your marketing endeavors need to grab the attention of users in a way that encourages them to convert to new, loyal customers. When your brand identity is consistent, your marketing campaign encourages more people to make purchases. Though it’s your company’s values and how your message resonates with them to keep them loyal.
A potential customer might discover your company through an ad campaign. Yet they will still need a good reason to trust you. This means that the branding agency you partner with also needs to implement your branding principles to strategically build a connection between your customers and the narrative of your brand’s evolving story. In this way, a good branding and marketing company carefully crafts strategies around your company’s long-term business plan to maximize your brand relevance beyond today and into tomorrow.
This is just one important reason why branding and marketing don’t compete, but instead, help leverage each other with increasing effectiveness. The biggest difference between branding and marketing is that branding essentially answers the questions about “Who” and “Why.” While marketing provides the answer to the question of “How.”
The Different Ways Marketing & Branding Work Together
Right off the bat, you shouldn’t be lulled into thinking that branding is only limited to the realms of design elements, the company logo, color palette, and font. An effective brand identity emphasizes the importance of the customer experience. It actively works to engage how they feel as well as what they see. In this way branding’s greatest value is that it’s memorable, it connects with your audience while promoting a unique and inspiring experience that optimizes customer retention.
Marketing and branding also work together to help you balance your priorities. When both are in line with each other your marketing efforts tend to reap the highest return on investment. This includes promotional marketing, advertising, and digital marketing. When they are out of alignment with each other you will often notice a decreasing return on investment in your marketing efforts. This can provide you with effective analytical data to further refine your marketing messages in the future.