What's the Difference Between Branding and Marketing?
In our experience, the relationship between branding and marketing can seem more complicated than it needs to be thanks to a few common misconceptions. Below we break down the facts and explain how branding and marketing should work together in harmony.
If you prefer listening to reading, scroll down to the bottom of the post to hear us talk about the question on our podcast!
Myths about branding and marketing
Have you had any of these thoughts about branding? We won’t judge you! These are the most common misconceptions we’ve heard (some of which we used to believe ourselves!).
Branding is only for luxury businesses—or manipulative marketers. Some small business owners are skeptical of branding because it seems obnoxious, something businesses only do when they want to overcharge their customers! In reality, branding all about owning what makes your business authentically valuable and unique. Done well, branding gives you the confidence of knowing that the actions your business takes flow directly from real values and personality traits.
Branding is just one of many marketing strategies. Many small business owners believe that branding is an optional marketing strategy, something not every business has to think about. The reality is that every business has a brand; consciously going through a branding process simply puts you more in control of it. There’s nothing wrong with thinking of branding as (an essential) part of your marketing strategy; just keep in mind that the branding process, which requires deep thought and a lot of time, can be stifled by marketing’s emphasis on action and short-term results.
Marketing doesn’t matter if you do branding right. On the opposite end of the spectrum, some small business owners believe that marketing isn’t as important as branding. With a “build it and they will come” mentality, they assume that if they create strong brand assets (like a killer name, logo, and website), customers will flock to them. The reality is that marketing is how you put your brand in front of people. Marketing is about fighting to get your brand in front of the right people at the right time.
Why branding matters
People are constantly forming impressions about your business, whether or not those impressions were part of your marketing plan. Your brand is a complex combination of feelings about, associations with, and experiences of your business. The difference between branding and not branding is whether you take ownership of that image people have in their minds.
In the 20th century, it was relatively easy to control people’s image of your business. You just needed a good enough product, plus enough money to run massive ad campaigns. But as technology and consumer behavior evolves, differentiating and earning trust is becoming harder and harder for brands. Quality and eyeballs are not enough to guarantee a strong brand. It’s more important than ever for companies to have a clear, consistent message that resonates with their target customers. This is where branding comes in.
How branding and marketing work together
Branding has to do with your identity, and marketing has to do with your actions. Just like how you act and what you do stems from who you are as a person, marketing should flow from your business’ brand identity.
If you’re unclear about your personal identity, you start to run into problems. You may start to confuse people, seem untrustworthy, or feel lost yourself. The same principle applies to your brand. When you take the time and space to think deeply and creatively about your brand identity—including your style and values—you’ll be much better prepared to tackle the more technical challenges of marketing, such as pricing, channels, funnels and campaigns.