This question is similar to: Which came first, the chicken or the egg? It can be difficult to decipher where branding ends and marketing begins or perhaps is it where marketing ends and branding begins?
The confusion resides in the fact that these two concepts coincide with one another. Both can exist on their own, but they thrive best when working together.
For the time being, it may be easiest to talk about them as separate entities to supplement our discussion on how they work in tandem.
Branding is the who.
Branding profiles your company. Part of what sells consumers on products is the personality of the company backing them. Your brand is the persona of your company. It communicates with consumers what values, beliefs, character, and integrity your company upholds.
Think of your company as a person.
Your company name would be the person’s name. Your company brand would be the person’s personality. To understand a person’s personality, you may ask the following questions that can also be used to understand your company’s brand.
How does this person act?
How does this person dress?
What are their mannerisms?
These aspects of your company: packaging, logo, press releases, the tone of your messaging, your company profiles on social media…etc. all attribute to consumers’ take on your company and what it offers.
Branding is all about perception and trust. Every visual aspect of your company attributes to that perception and in extension your brand. Your focus for your branding strategy should be to paint a perception of your company that encourages consumers to trust your product or service.
The overarching question to ask yourself when building a brand strategy is, “Who am I?”
Marketing is the why.
Marketing focuses on proving your company is worth buying from. Think of it as a value proposition. Branding is mainly focused on showing consumers why they should choose you over your competitors, while marketing tellsthem.
Marketing focuses on delivering information. What is your new product? Where can you find your company’s stores? What deals are you promoting? How will this product benefit your consumers? What makes your company better than your competition?
This information is delivered across many channels. Direct mail, advertising, digital content, and printed materials just to name a few. Marketing focuses on the message it delivers rather than the feeling it incites.
The overarching question to ask yourself when building a marketing strategy is, “What value do I provide?”
Mixing the Two
Don’t caught up in the battle branding vs marketing. The two were meant to opertate in tandem.
Branding should be the focus and fuel of your marketing. Every piece of collateral you mail a prospect or every business card you dole out during a sales meeting is a marketing tactic that reinforces your brand. Do these assets have the proper coloring, logo, design, and tone that exemplifies the brand you’re building?
In the end, it’s your brand that determines how a consumer is really going to perceive a marketing message, no matter how it’s phrased or where they see it. Your brand sets the tone. Make sure your branding remains consistent and clear. Doing so will increase the quality of your marketing efforts and make them more effective overall.