If you’ve been looking into growing your business, you’d have definitely come across two terms – Branding and Marketing. While the two concepts are very closely connected and work together towards building a successful brand, they are, in fact, very different from each other. They have different purposes, different approaches, and give you different results. But before we figure out what your business needs, let us have a clear idea of them.
What is Branding?
Ask ten people what they think branding means and seven will tell you it is what you do to promote your brand – running ads, having an active social media presence, etc. Sounds right, no? In a way, yes, but not really. It’s more than just promoting your brand. It is an overall exercise of establishing your brand, which includes creating your brand identity, finding elements that identify your brand, present it in a memorable package, and then some.
Honestly, it’s impossible to get branding right unless you understand what a brand is. It isn’t the name or the logo of your company. It’s not the tagline or even what you’re selling. Your brand is what people think of when they hear its name. What they feel, expect, and remember about you. In other words, it’s a blend of the visuals (name, logo, style, etc.) and emotions (how you talk, how you make their lives better, etc.). And thus, branding is everything you do to shape and define your brand, to make sure it stands out from the clutter of million other similar services.
What is Marketing?
If you own a business, you know you aren’t the only one in the game. There are hundreds, if not thousands, of other similar companies offering the same services as you. This is where marketing comes into the picture; it makes sure you stand out from the crowd, and you are noticed by your potential customers. In other words, if branding is who you are, then marketing is how people discover you.
So, if you run an ad, that’s marketing. If you maintain a blog for your brand, that’s marketing. If you call people up to tell them about your business, employ content marketing for growth, or post stories on Instagram to grow brand engagement, all of that is marketing. Simply put, it is the tool you use to put your message out to the world in order to get noticed. Unlike a brand message, which should ideally remain the same through all your endeavors, marketing efforts need not do that. In fact, they should constantly change and adapt according to your audience, platform, offering, and even occasion.
How Are They Different?
The very first, and the main difference between branding and marketing is what they do. While branding shapes your brand through its values, mission, design language, tone, voice, etc., marketing helps you connect with your customers so they can see you, hopefully like you, and then make a purchase. Another way of looking at it is that marketing is what brings people in, while branding is what keeps them there. This is why both are equally important for the growth of any business.
Another major way the two concepts differ is in terms of how transient and fixed they are. As we discussed earlier, marketing changes regularly in response to what your customers want, what you are selling, or what the general trend in the market is.
But branding, on the other hand, stays fixed because that’s how your customers remember you and like you, and you wouldn’t want to change that too often. Take Apple, for example. Its tagline “Think Different”, its minimal yet classy design language, its focus on style and ecosystem; all of it is a part of its branding and that hardly ever changes. But the marketing itself, which means their ads, their social content, etc., can change depending on the product or the topical day they are tapping into. The ad for their laptop can talk about productivity while the ad for the watch can make them look sporty and fitness-forward. So, no matter how you reach their website – through a laptop ad or a watch ad – once you are there, you are experiencing their minimal, classy, aspirational brand. And that is what you will remember a year later.
In terms of execution, branding generally takes a lot more research and thinking than marketing. But let us reiterate, generally. This is not the case every time, and there have been marketing campaigns that can surpass branding in terms of effort, but in most cases, branding comes from a lot of insight into who your customers are, what they want to see in you, how you can relate to them, etc. Then it needs to be translated into visual and emotional elements that can be marketed through different mediums. In this sense, branding is a meticulous craft, fine strokes of the brush that don’t show too clearly at first glance but make a lot of difference, while marketing is the broad strokes that make up most of the painting.
What Your Business Needs?
Now, coming to the big question – what does your business need? Well, that depends on where your business is right now. We still stand with what we said earlier that both branding and marketing are equally important, but having said that, there is a clear chronological order. Since branding builds the base of your brand, that should be your priority. If you look at your business as a plant, branding would be its root while marketing is its leaves, flowers, etc. The outer appearance of the plant is definitely important, but it doesn’t amount to much if the roots aren’t strong and sturdy enough. In fact, just like a plant, you need to give more light to some sides and prune the decaying leaves more often than you do anything with the roots.
So, let’s translate it back to your business and where it stands right now. If it’s been around for a while, and you have already set a strong base in terms of brand identity, brand guidelines, mission, vision, etc., then you can focus more on marketing. This would include doing content marketing, running campaigns, generating leads through PPC marketing, etc. But if it’s a new business that doesn’t have a strong brand identity or you think the current branding isn’t sticking with people and you need to rebrand your business, then your priority should be that. After all, marketing can only bring people to you, what finally sells is branding.
Building a successful brand is not an easy task, and with so many moving pieces, it can be even more daunting. But that is exactly why you have services like ours, so you can get a consultation as well as expert help with whatever your business needs. We, at The Go-To Guy, come with valuable experience in both rebranding and marketing, which means no matter how old or new your business is, we can take it to new heights. This is a one-stop-shop for all that your business needs.