Although branding and marketing are ultimately communication tools for a brand, their objectives and how they go about achieving them are quite different. Although you might argue that both of them serve to communicate the brand to the consumers; however, their paths diverge from there.

Branding aims to influence and shape how customers perceive a brand whereas marketing aims to reach them as frequently, as effectively, and as convincingly as possible. In actionable terms, branding and marketing form a communication team, in which branding is the substance of the message that is intended to influence the consumer, and marketing is the channel/s that ensures that this message reaches the consumer and urges them to take action.

In this article, we explore both these concepts in the context of branding a business and the role that both these communication tools play in contributing to the growth of a brand.

What is Branding?

The impact of a prominent brand like Nike

“If people like you, they will listen to you, but if they trust you, they will do business with you.”

-Zig Ziglar

A brand is born from how your consumers feel about and connect with your company. However, you need to give your consumers a compelling reason to form an impression of you in their minds.

Branding dictates how you influence your consumer’s perception of your brand. It encompasses telling your target audience who you are, what you stand for, what your aspirations are, and what you seek to achieve. In doing so, you aim to help form an image and gut feeling about your brand in the minds and hearts of your consumers

Branding is not about getting your target market to choose you over the competition, but it is about getting your prospects to see you as the only one that provides a solution to their problem. Good branding allows your brand to stand out and be distinct from its competition – a unique story that identifies you to your consumers, and subsequent byproduct of how you communicate who you are to the world.

A real-world example would be a flagship store like Apple. Consumers are willing to pay a premium for the products and services because they believe that Apple is the best at what they do.

What is Marketing?

All the elements of a conceptual marketing strategy for your brand

Source: Guessing Forum

“It’s important to remember your competitor is only one mouse click away.”

-Douglas Warner III, Former CEO, J.P. Morgan Chase & Co

Companies spend billions of dollars every year on a marketing budget; all so that they can promote their products and services in an effort to create relevancy, establish presence, generate leads, and close sales. Marketing outlines how you are going to reach your target audience. It is the process of creating awareness and interest in your brand through various channels like advertising, public relations, social media, etc., using a set of tools, processes and strategies.

Targeted messaging and positioning helps you  reach the right people at the right time, and  being able to track and measure results allows you to optimize your campaigns for greater success. This includes leveraging technology in order to reach more potential customers, like using SEO, PPC, and other forms of digital advertising. It’s also about understanding how to use storytelling and other techniques to create an emotional connection with your audience.

At the end of the day, successful marketing centers around understanding your target market, creating valuable content and experiences for them, and constantly optimizing for higher conversions. When done correctly, it can help you generate more leads, drive traffic, increase brand awareness, and increase ROI.

What’s the Difference Between Branding and Marketing?

The comparison between elements of branding and marketing

Source: Mann-co

Branding and marketing have often been used interchangeably in the past. Even today, in many organizations, they do not clearly differentiate between the two; however, there is a stark difference based on what they seek to achieve. Yes, they are communication tools, but what they are communicating is entirely different.

Branding communicates who you are and marketing makes sure as many people as possible can hear you. Let’s bring up an analogy:

Having a strong social media presence is a solid marketing strategy. There are numerous ways to promote your brand on these platforms. Now, marketing constitutes what platforms you’re using, what tools you’re using on these platforms to distribute your content, and even what content you are publishing. Branding, on the other hand, comprises what content you are publishing, how you are distributing it, how you communicate with your audience, and even  how you design your profile. It’s all about establishing a distinct identity and making sure your audience can relate to you.

Who is it for?

Branding and marketing target different areas.

Source: Venture Harbour

Branding is for the audience whereas marketing is for your customers and the business. In other words, the focus of your branding strategy is your audience and creating an indelible impression on them. This means targeting their emotions and thoughts by providing value, building trust, and establishing credibility. As such you are attempting to shape your audience’s perception of your brand.

A marketing strategy, on the other hand, is made with the business itself in mind. It maximizes the strengths of the business to various channels such that it reaches the intended target audience.  As such. it revolves around the 4Ps – Product, Place, Price and Promotion. This means it emphasizes the promotion of products and services so that more people can know about them. Essentially, it is a blend of creative and analytical activities which involves understanding consumer needs, analyzing market trends, tailoring messages according to target audience behavior and leveraging various channels to maximize reach.

Influence

Branding inspires and cultivates audience loyalty whereas marketing expands reach, cultivates customers, and increases sales. A branding strategy describes your identity, your vision, and your essence. All these aspects are vital for any customer to build a connection and a relationship – 46% of consumers say they would pay more for a brand that they trust (Salsify, 2022). This means that a relationship is necessary to cultivate brand loyalty. 

A marketing strategy, on the other hand,  serves to identify the target audience, their behavior and needs. It then helps craft messages that speak to this particular audience in order to increase visibility and reach. This includes leveraging various channels such as print, digital, social media etc. in order to reach as many potential customers as possible.

To maximize success, it is essential for businesses to combine both relationship and marketing strategies in order to cultivate long-term relationships with customers while also ensuring they are being seen by potential leads

Branding is as much for your employees as it is for your consumers

Branding is as much for the employees as it is for the consumers whereas marketing is for your consumers only

Source: Dlinkers

Branding is how you instill pride in what you do and who you are as a company as well as being the sum total of how your customers, employees, investors, partners, and other stakeholders perceive you. Marketing is for your customers and prospects, it’s how you reach them and communicate your message.

Think of branding as the roots of a tree and marketing as the branches and leaves. The roots provide support and stability, while the branches and leaves reach out to the sun and rain. Marketing is important, but without a strong foundation (branding), you will never grow as tall or be as stable.

Your employees won’t really be affected by your marketing strategy and means. They will develop and implement. But that is where it ends. Your brand, on the other hand, definitely affects and impacts your employees. Your employees need to believe in your message if they are going to be passionate and committed to their work.

Branding first, Marketing second

Quite a few sources say that branding must come first and marketing second. However, is this completely true? Marketing strategies, trends, methods, and even channels might change with the times and technology; and even though our brand stays the same, how you are executing your branding strategy adapts to suit your audience. 

Without an established brand identity, your product or service would be just another marketing advert that most people ignore. Whereas, without marketing, your brand would be forgotten even before you get a chance to establish your identity. The ideal solution would be for your branding strategy and your marketing strategy to work in tandem.

How can marketing and branding work together?

Can branding and marketing work in tandem?

Source: Panorbit

The key to successful marketing and branding is finding a way to integrate them so that they reinforce each other.

Some ways to do this include:

Define your brand’s identity and purpose:

This gives you a clear direction for your marketing efforts that helps you create messaging that is aligned with your brand.

Developing a style guide will ensure that all of your marketing materials are consistent with your brand identity. Thereafter, using customer insights to inform your marketing strategy will help you better understand your target audience and help you create more effective marketing campaigns.

Develop a consistent visual style:

Your visual style should be consistent across all of your marketing channels. This includes the use of your logo, color palette, and typography. This will go hand in hand with creating compelling content. Your content should be interesting and informative, but most importantly, it should be aligned with your brand identity. Posting relevant and engaging content on a regular basis will help you attract and retain customers.

Make sure your marketing materials are on-brand:

All of your marketing materials, from your website to your business cards, should reflect your brand identity. This is important for both online and offline marketing efforts. Your branding should be evident in everything you do, from the way you answer customer inquiries to the design of your packaging. This will allow you to use your brand to guide your marketing decisions.

Summing up, your brand should be the north star that guides all of your marketing decisions. From the colors you use and the images you select to the messaging you craft, everything should be in alignment with your brand.

What is the impact of your marketing and branding working together?

Connecting with your audience:

Assuming your customers support your business, it means that they have shared values. When you align your marketing with your values, they will recognize it and feel more connected to your brand. This will allow you to find out what your target audience values and how best to reach them. This will allow you to resonate more closely with your existing and potential target audience.

Balances your priorities

Your business is affected when either your branding or marketing efforts get left behind. A continuous effort with both these approaches allows them to complement each other and send a more holistic and consistent message with the kind of reach you envisioned, if not exceeding it.

Conclusion:

To sum up, branding and marketing are both important tools for businesses to connect with their target audiences. Branding helps businesses build trust and loyalty, while marketing helps businesses reach new customers. Both branding and marketing are essential for businesses to grow and succeed.

So if you need an agency that specializes in helping businesses create and strengthen their brand identity, Pixel Street is your man. We would be happy to help you grow your business! Our team will help you outline a suitable branding process that will be customized to suit your business. Thank you for reading!!

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Khurshid Alam
Founder

Khurshid Alam is the founder of Pixel Street, a web design company. He aspires to solve business problems by communicating effectively digitally. In his leisure, he reads, writes, and occasionally plays a game of table tennis.