These two business functions are often believed to be the same, but the truth is, Marketing and Branding are two distinct functions.
Marketing provides tactical assistance to the sales function, by locating and nurturing qualified leads in order to reduce the cost of sale and shorten the sales cycle. To do this, marketing groups use a variety of techniques, such as advertising, research, and logo design.
Branding is at the core of your marketing strategy, so branding must come first. Even if you are a startup, it’s essential to clearly define who you are as a brand—before you begin to devise your specific marketing methods, tools, strategies, and tactics.
Your brand is what will keep your clients coming back for more; it’s the foundation upon which you will build consumer loyalty. Think of restaurants and retailers in your local area (independently owned, or major corporations), it’s the brand that keeps customers coming back generation after generation. As an example, consider where you order and pick up prescriptions for yourself and your family. Whether the pharmacy or drugstore you shop in is locally owned, or part of a larger chain—they have built your trust and your loyalty, and you have most likely been a customer with them for many years. While you can purchase the exact same prescriptions at any other pharmacy in town, it’s their branding that keeps you coming back time and time again.
While marketing methods will evolve and respond to current industry and cultural trends—branding remains the same. Even if you make adjustments to your brand, they will typically be in response to your growth or expanded services offered—but is rarely an overhaul of your core principals, mission, or values.
Your branding includes attributes such as a high commitment to quality, community, convenience, communication—or an ongoing commitment to a specific need your target audience needs to be fulfilled.
Also, keep in mind that branding is something you and your team must do on a daily basis, and with every transaction processed, with every phone call received, and email responded to. However, your marketing is most often partially or fully outsourced to marketing professionals. When speaking of branding vs. marketing, branding is who you are—while marketing is how you attract consumer attention. Think of branding as the way you keep current clients and marketing as how you attract new clients.
Your branding is what generates a timeless connection. Even if your current marketing efforts are designed to engage, it’s the ongoing branding that keeps customers coming back. Competition is fierce, and the fact of the matter is that there are companies who offer comparable products and services—or even the exact same products and services that you offer. It’s your branding that will keep your customers returning for more. It’s your branding that builds loyalty and trust. It’s your branding that makes you unique.
Without branding, you may achieve success, but with branding, your success will be far more substantial. All strong structures have a solid starting point and foundation and understanding the difference between marketing and branding will allow you to build your foundation of branding—and your extensions via marketing.
The strongest brands use their understanding of the difference between branding and marketing to build marketing campaigns that work hand in hand with their brand positioning strategy. They listen to their customers, and let their values, hopes, and desires define the brand’s position—then craft marketing campaigns to communicate that value through simple, creative, show-stopping executions.
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