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Branding vs. Marketing: What’s the Difference?

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Branding vs. Marketing

As you begin to build your brand identity, the details can be overwhelming, even for company CEOs, marketers, and content strategists. Many terms and acronyms get thrown around, and it’s hard to keep them all straight, even when you’re in the middle of creating your own brand strategy

Often, branding and marketing are coupled together, so what’s the difference between the two, and how do you keep track of which is which? We’re going to discuss the differences between branding and marketing; why it’s important to understand the differences and commonalities; what brand identity, positioning, and storytelling are; and what goes into branding and marketing strategies. So let’s get started.

Branding Is Who You Are

Branding is the creation of the identity, positioning and reputation of your company, service, or product. Branding is who or what you are, whether it’s encapsulated in a logo like Starbucks, a sign like McDonalds’ golden arch, a website like Amazon, a jingle like Oscar Mayer, or a name like True Value Hardware. Branding captures the emotions, beliefs, values, and desires your product evokes. It’s the personality of your product or service, and, ultimately, branding is what keeps your customers loyal year after year. 

Kevin Smith describes branding as “part art, part science” and sums it up in one word, aesthetic. It’s what a product says when it’s not speaking. Think Coca-Cola or Marlboro Man.

Marketing Is How You Promote Your Products

Marketing is the action of promoting your products, services, or company. This includes advertising, public relations, and market research. Think of marketing as the actions you take to convince your customers to buy your product or service. This can be sending an email, buying advertisements, or creating a Pay-Per-Click campaign. If branding is what a product says when it’s not speaking, marketing is what it says when it is speaking.

Here are some more ways to differentiate marketing from branding:

  • Marketing is the short term. Branding is the long term.
  • Marketing is an advertisement or a call-to-action. Branding is becoming timeless like Google or Levi’s jeans.
  • Marketing is the micro. Branding is the macro.
  • Marketing drives sales. Branding builds loyalty.
  • Marketing gets customers’ attention. Branding keeps customers’ attention.
  • Branding comes first but takes longer to cultivate. Marketing comes second but gives immediate results. 
  • Marketing changes all the time. Branding is forever.
  • Marketing catches customers’ attention quickly. Branding builds long-lasting relationships.

Marketing Drives Brand Loyalty
Customers like consistency, and if they like your product or service, they expect the quality to be the same or better than the last time. Brand consistency is one of the most important factors that builds customer trust and increases your ROI. Inconsistent branding creates confusion and undermines your brand’s status. It takes between five to seven brand impressions before a customer will remember a brand, which is why consistency is so important. And it’s that memory that drives brand identity over time.

If marketing gets people to engage with your products or services short term, branding is what keeps them loyal year after year. And while both are important and interact with one another, it’s brand loyalty that marketers try to achieve in the long run.

Brand Loyalty Can Make Your Product Timeless

Brand loyalty is the positive association customers have with your product. Despite efforts from your brand’s competitors to lure your customers away with cheaper prices or more convenience, brand loyalty brings them back over and over without even comparing prices.

Starbucks, for example, has a brand loyalty that makes people seek them out, regardless of where they are. Customers can rely on Starbucks to duplicate their emotional experience and provide them with comfort and consistency, even far away from home. Customers know they’re getting a good cup of coffee and identical service wherever they are, and it doesn’t matter if their latte or Frappuccino is more expensive. 

Starbucks’ brand identity is their logo, their name, and reputation, whereas their social media posts are their marketing efforts. Consistent marketing has helped them create a brand loyalty that’s unbeatable. Their consistent signage probably attracts more sales than any of their marketing efforts. And that’s what a stellar branding campaign can do: It makes your brand timeless. 

Brand Storytelling Can Relay Authenticity, Truth, and Emotion

Brand storytelling is a way to connect with your audience and build timelessness. With brand storytelling, the more personable, authentic, and honest your message is, the more effective it will be. Your marketing efforts can reflect brand storytelling in these ways:

  • Tell authentic and true stories
  • Relay company values
  • Keep brand messaging simple
  • Appeal to customers’ emotions
  • Share success stories and failures

“Your brand story is more than what you tell people,” says Deborah Shane in Small Business Trends. “It is what they believe about you based on all the signals your brand sends out.” 

Brand Positioning Sets You Apart

That brings us to your company’s overall perception or reputation— brand positioning. Your brand positioning sets you apart from your competitors and is essential for a successful brand identity over time, no matter how good your products or services are. Brand positioning is how your audience perceives you and what you stand for. When you see the Apple logo, for example, you might think of cutting-edge technology and sleek designs. Maybe you’re likely to buy, but it’s the long-lasting relationship that customers build with Apple over time that’s made their company so successful. And that’s brand positioning.

Your internal team can affect your brand positioning for better or worse. High turnover and employee dissatisfaction can take their toll on your branding efforts. The opposite is true, too. Think of employees who work at Starbucks or Apple, for example. Their companies’ reputations for having high employee satisfaction and being “employee first” places to work saturate their brand image. 

Branding and Marketing Strategies Work Together

A well-defined brand strategy will help your company create long-term growth and revenue, not only because of customers but because of your internal communications. It will:

  • Define the value your product or service provides to new and existing customers
  • Create a consistent message
  • Build consumer trust and loyalty
  • Align your company’s departments for better internal communications 
  • Establish guidelines for better internal decision-making, budget planning, and time management
  • Identify opportunities and prioritize initiatives
  • Optimize time and financial investments

Your marketing strategy, on the other hand, will be a function of your brand strategy. It will outline specific tactics to communicate your key brand message to your target audience in ways such as:

  • Content Strategy
  • Digital Marketing
  • Campaigns
  • Social media 
  • Advertising
  • Public Relations
  • Influencers

No matter what methods you’re using in your marketing strategy, we can help you fine tune and grow your brand identity. Contact us today. We’re here to help.