When it comes to building a successful business, most people would agree that effective marketing and strong branding are essential. Oftentimes, marketing and branding are lumped together as one and the same, but that couldn’t be further from the truth.
Branding and marketing perform incredibly different functions when it comes to acquiring and retaining customers. If branding is the warm pot of chicken noodle soup, marketing is the spoons, trays and bowls carrying it out to waiting diners.
Branding is The Foundation
Without well-established branding, your marketing efforts will lack cohesion, effectiveness and a clear message.
Your brand identity is the embodiment of what your business stands for. While your logo, typography and colors are important aspects of your identity, it’s really what they convey to the viewer that is the essence of branding. Essentially, what do prospects think, feel and do when they engage with your business?
Take Patagonia for example. They produce outdoor clothing and gear, sure. But when you think about Patagonia you likely think about more than just their product. You think about their ruggedness, passion for adventure and commitment to sustainability. In many ways, your brand is the promise of your organization, which goes above and beyond any individual product or marketing strategy.
The brand attributes you define ultimately trickle down to inform the tone in the messaging you craft, the visuals you use, the personality conveyed in your videos and many other factors throughout your marketing efforts.
Without a brand to inform how and what you write, design or say, your marketing efforts won’t tie back to your overall business. They won’t establish long-term relationships, awareness or affinity for your company.
It’s also important to note that your brand is more than just what you think it is. Your prospects and customers will have their own perception of what your brand is based on the experiences they have with your business.
If you’re not delivering on the values or promise you’ve established, then the people you engage with will have a different definition of your brand. Again, Patagonia adopted sustainable production practices and participates in vigorous environmental activism. If they didn’t, would their customers have the same perception of them?
All of this is to say that branding is the foundation, but marketing helps build upon it and share it with the world.
Marketing Helps Build Brand
While your marketing can accomplish little without a cohesive brand, your marketing is what helps deliver that brand to your audience.
Marketing is the summation of digital and offline tools like your website, social media, paid advertising, videos, print campaigns and so much more. Your branding should be woven into your efforts across all of these tools.
If you want people to recognize your brand as authentic, personable and expert in the field, your marketing should be conveying those attributes regardless of the channel. This can be done in the copy that you write, the photos you use in your digital ads or the tone your speakers take on videos.
The more you drive home these attributes and values of your organization in your marketing efforts, the more likely you are to establish brand awareness and eventual affinity. If you communicate it effectively, your marketing helps bring new prospects in the door, while your brand keeps them coming back.
Adapting Over Time
A fundamental difference between branding and marketing is how they adapt and change over time. Budgets, new mediums or changes in the behavior of your target audience will ultimately dictate how your marketing efforts change and where they are focused.
Your branding may grow over time, but it should rarely change. If you’re constantly redefining your business or what it stands for, your customers will never know what to think about you and your marketing teams will struggle to build awareness.
It’s important to define values and attributes that are meaningful to your business regardless of scale or circumstance. Doing so enables your marketing to more easily change and adapt over time. Your marketing’s core purpose and messaging will remain the same, even if format and function change.