Branding and Marketing are NOT the same.
During a recent business lunch, I was speaking to an executive that has been interviewing candidates for an open Director of Marketing position. Although this role will be responsible for executing strategic marketing, advertising and creative services, a large part of the job is branding. In fact, the first sentence in the job posting states the Director of Marketing will manage the corporate brand.
Although several professionals with years of marketing experience have applied for the job, very few candidates have been able to make it beyond the first interview. This is because most people (and marketers) don’t clearly understand the difference between branding and marketing. Fortunately, this company recognizes the importance of hiring a marketer that has a firm grasp of both.
The two terms are often used interchangeably, yet branding and marketing are NOT the same. And, if you don’t fully understand the difference, it’s nearly impossible to be effective at both. It’s strong branding with good marketing that makes companies the most successful.
Understanding the difference is important.
Before examining the differences of branding and marketing, it’s helpful to know the definitions of each:
Attracts and retains loyal customers by consistently reinforcing and delivering a promise that creates memorable experiences. Displays attributes that build a reputation among the people that your brand touches.
Helps drive sales through activities and processes that promote your brand to reach and engage customers. Communicates value to keep your brand and products top-of-mind among the people that you want to do business with.
As stated above, your branding should always come first. Marketing without branding is a waste of time and money. You’ll confuse your customers and have little credibility. Most people think their company is branding first – they have a name and logo that’s always on the marketing. But, branding is more than just this.
Branding is more than a name, logo and design.
While your name, logo and design are an essential component of your branding, they’re meaningless without an executed strategy that connects your brand to your customers in a meaningful way. Many companies that have a branding strategy may market it, but fail to deliver it.
In addition to the visual identity, a branding strategy should include all the points below. Execution of the strategy relies on all staff within the organization. While the marketing team may lead the branding, it cannot be the sole executor.
- Clearly defined (and delivered) company mission.
- Clearly defined (and delivered) benefits/features of products.
- Clearly defined (and delivered) attributes of company.
- Clearly defined (and delivered) competitive differentiators.
When all components of a branding strategy are executed, the name, logo and design will begin to have true meaning. For example, when you see the Apple mark, you think about technology that is innovative and makes life easier. A red and white Coca-Cola can represents a quality drink that is tasty and refreshing. These brands have a reputation of delivering their promises, which led to trust and customer loyalty. Branding guidelines that are enforced throughout the entire organizations helped make these brands strong. Fonts, company attire, email signatures and phone greetings are all a part of leading brand’s executed branding strategies.
Marketing is what helps build awareness of your brand.
Marketing is a variable group of activities that promote your brand. Unlike your branding that generally remains constant, your marketing will change depending on short-term goals, trends, audiences and other factors. While your customers ultimately own your brand, you control your marketing – making it easier to adjust and modify when necessary.
Although branding and marketing are different and separate, they’re both needed and have to work together.
For help with your organization’s branding or marketing, contact Break Ice Marketing.
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