Do you ever use the words “branding” and “marketing” interchangeably? Discover the subtle differences between the two and how you can use both effectively.
What’s the difference between “branding” and “marketing”? Even though the two terms are used interchangeably, there is a slight difference. No one will correct you in a casual conversation, but being a business owner or manager, you should know how the two words compare and differ. By understanding and recognizing the differences, you can use both branding and marketing effectively.
The Basics of Branding
In a nutshell, branding is about who you are. Once you establish your brand identity, this won’t change. Branding is not based on seasons or products or special events. Branding is related to your internal operations and culture.
To determine who you are as a brand, ask yourself a few questions.
- What are your core principles and values?
- What is your mission statement?
- What makes you unique?
- What is the background of your business?
- How do your products help your customers?
- What is your company culture like?
- How do you want people to feel when they think of your brand?
- What words do you want people to use to describe your company?
By answering these questions honestly, you can get a better idea of who you are, why you do what you do and where you fit into your customers’ lives.
The Basics of Marketing
Marketing, on the other hand, is how you build awareness for your brand. Marketing continually evolves based on seasonal trends, the products you sell and the goals you are trying to reach. Your marketing materials can be funny, serious or entertaining based on your tactical goals.
A wide range of offline and online marketing methods are available, and you probably already use a good mix of them. Some of the most popular include:
- Search engine optimization
- Pay per click
- Content marketing
- Social media marketing
- Email marketing
- Mobile marketing
- Direct mail campaigns
In the end, marketing is related to your strategic goals and will change plenty throughout the years. Branding encompasses your internal culture and will stay the same.
Branding vs Marketing: Which Comes First?
Branding comes before marketing. Even if you are a small startup, you will need to define who you are as a brand before you start creating marketing materials. The reason why branding is so important is because you have to stand out from your competitors and gain trust and loyalty in your target audience.
Let’s say that you are opening a local hardware shop. Your store may not be as big as some of the competitors in your area, but you know that you will be delivering a small-town feel with quality products and great customer service. This is what makes your store different from the rest. This is your brand.
The marketing you use will complement your brand and its goals. If it’s the holiday season, you may promote a new power drill for Dad. If it’s summer, you can focus on home improvement projects such as power washing the deck or staining a fence. When people see your advertisements and then think of your brand (mom-and-pop shop with great service), the two come together and you gain a loyal customer.
Do Branding and Marketing Ever Overlap?
There are times when branding and marketing overlap. The best example is with a logo. Your company logo serves as a form of marketing and will be used in your online and offline marketing materials. However, your logo doesn’t change, and it continues to represent the core values of your brand.
Even though a company logo has elements of both branding and marketing, it’s important to note that a logo is based off your brand first. The colors, font and graphics that you choose will represent your brand and then play a substantial role in your marketing efforts. If ever in doubt, always start with your brand.
Let’s recap. Your brand is who you are. It comes first, and your consumers own it. Marketing is the message you send out, which can change based on your goals, trends and products. Marketing comes second, and you own it, not your customers. Knowing these subtle differences will help you strengthen your brand and separate yourself from your competitors.