Honestly, have you ever thought about the differences between marketing and branding?
Hint: you can’t effectively do one without the other.
Marketing. Branding. These words are used interchangeably so often, most people think they mean the same thing. There’s a fundamental different that every organization should know:
Branding is who you are.
Marketing is how you sell your brand.
Your brand is how you are perceived by customers, potential customers, the media, business partners, vendors, and even your own employees. Your brand is your reputation and while that truly lies in the hands of these various audiences, there is a lot you can do to guide the narrative.
- Your mission, vision, and values. These must be consistently expressed in everything from your logo and color palette, to your website and social channels, to your packaging and customer service. An audience should never have to guess why you exist and what is important to you. Today’s audiences make decisions based on being in sync with and trusting brands.
- Your products/services. Is your brand logo prominent or subtle? Which approach is better suited to your goals? How are they delivered to the customer? What are your standards for products and for customer service? These are all reflections of your brand.
- Your target customers. Audiences are looking for others like themselves, and will engage with brands where they see people like themselves. Are you attracting the correct audience for your growth goals? Will they attract others like themselves to help your business grow?
- Your competitive edge in the marketplace. Does your brand, especially your logo, stand out in a crowded marketplace? It should be reflective of who you are. It should be timeless. It should be quickly-recognizable as a sign of your competitive edge.
Being thoughtful when developing a brand strategy will be an investment that pays great dividends. Your strategy should include the visual elements of logos, colors, word marks, websites and style guides. But most importantly your brand should live throughout the organization in packaging, customer service, hiring and management practices, and community relations.
Marketing is executing on that brand strategy. Marketing provides the tactics to make your brand elements really work for you.
If your brand strategy is to establish, or maintain, your position as a high-end, luxury goods retailer, then your marketing tactics need to execute on that. For example,
Yes: Host a private VIP trunk show and invitation-only shopping experience. Send printed invitations, rather than an email blast.
No: Email and text message “50% discount for the first 50 customers on Black Friday!” While you may gain a little traffic, these are not your people. They will only follow price-points, not brands. You’ve weakened your brand and probably lost some income potential from your loyal customers and potential VIP customers who shop with you because of quality, not price.
Branding is the horse. Marketing is the cart.
Your brand is what pulls you through. It is consistent and something your audiences can rely on. It has meaning and value. Your marketing carries the load, but only if it fits well with the brand.
Marketing wins the day. Branding wins the lifetime.
Developing an effective brand strategy pays for itself through the long-term reputation you build. Work with a creative firm that not only develops beautiful, meaningful logos, but also offers you the brand strategy and marketing know-how to make it work for you.