Great Branding Sets You Up for Great Marketing
When I meet a new person and tell them I work in branding, the response is usually something like, “Oh, that’s like marketing, right?”
The term “marketing” is almost always more recognizable than “branding” is, and many folks lump the terms together into a common definition when referencing any type of external understanding of a company. But even though the terms are often confused, marketing is not the same thing as branding. Branding is a wholly separate concept that works in tandem with marketing to promote your company to the world. Although “marketing” is the term most commonly recognized in promotion, it’s actually the second part of the promotion mix of a company — the first part being branding.
Let’s dive into defining these concepts, learn more about their importance, and how they help your business succeed.
Defining branding and marketing
Like we mentioned earlier, branding and marketing are commonly confused terms. They exist in similar spaces, they can have amorphous definitions, they both end in -ing. And although they are wholly different, they complement each other, and one rarely exists without the other.
Let’s get to some definitions:
Branding is the construction of a brand; in turn, a brand is the meaning that individuals attach to an organization (or in some instances, a service or product).
Marketing is how you leverage a brand and promote it to the world.
Without branding, marketing is unfocused and inconsistent; without marketing, the message of a brand is never heard. These two concepts work in tandem to share your story with the world, and ideally, your brand is fully explored and defined before you begin the marketing process.
Without branding, marketing is unfocused and inconsistent; without marketing, the message of a brand is never heard.
This is because your brand creates a foundation that your business promotion is built upon. It is the behind-the-scenes work that needs to be done before anything else. Through the creation of a mindful and intentional brand for your business, you are able to explore what your entity stands for and craft an identity that aligns with those beliefs.
Once your brand is created, you can tell the world about it through marketing, which isn’t an all-or-nothing effort. Marketing is a progression; as your company is getting started, your marketing may consist of setting up a website and telling your friends and family about your venture. As business ramps up, marketing efforts could include events, social media, advertising, and more, depending on your industry and target audience.
Branding and marketing work separately and apart — but they’re strongest together.
Branding is an internal exercise to get super clear on what your organization stands for so it can be communicated to your target audience, in turn molding their perception of you.
Here at Focus Lab, we start our projects with an in-depth brand strategy process, creating the strong foundation necessary to support your brand’s marketing.
Within brand strategy, we get to the heart of the audience you want to work with, how you want that audience to view you, and what cliches to avoid and what opportunities are available in your competitive landscape. After creating a direction from this research, our team works to bring your brand to life through tangible items you’ll use in your marketing, including visual brand designs and communications deliverables. All of these elements are rooted in brand strategy, ensuring that your future marketing will effectively reach your audience and communicate your strategic advantage. And once it comes time to communicate your company to the world, this rock-solid brand provides a blueprint for all of your marketing.
Why start with brand?
If branding is the foundation, marketing is the outside of the building — something seen by everyone. Specific marketing channels that serve as a primary touchpoint to draw in your audience — like advertising — might catch your audience’s eye through great curb appeal, just like a freshly painted house exterior or a landscaped yard would. Other marketing channels — like your social media and website — are repeated secondary touchpoints that further solidify your audience’s understanding of who you are, just as a well-kept house interior confirms the initial perception given by the curb appeal.
And just like how a strong foundation ensures that a building stays upright, there are parts of branding that will set you up for a smoother and more beneficial marketing journey. For example, your brand includes strong communication and design guidelines, which establish a formula that can be easily established and executed, creating standards that set you up for long-term marketing success.
If you are marketing your organization, product, or service before establishing a strong brand, it’s a missed opportunity to reach your audience in a specific, strategic way. Ideally, marketing decisions are influenced by your brand — your brand establishes where to speak with your audience, guides how to write website copy that will draw them in, and figures out how to promote yourself in a way that stands apart from your competitors.
After all, time is money, and a rock-solid brand guides you to make more effective marketing decisions faster and with more confidence. Clearly defining both your brand and your marketing plan is the best way to ensure they cohesively work together to reach your desired audience in the most effective way.