Whether you’re a newcomer to the market or a long-time veteran, the sheer number of business terms you come across can easily get confusing.
Of these, you’ve likely heard of two popular buzzwords: branding and marketing. Though some people seem to use the words interchangeably, they mean very different things.
As you develop your strategies for long-term success, it’s important to understand each definition to make your efforts as productive as possible.
If you’re unsure how to differentiate the two, don’t worry—we’re here to help!
In this article, we’ll explain the difference between branding and marketing to help you expand your business knowledge and develop promotional strategies that never miss their mark.
Branding is a long-term strategy defining how your company will fulfill its promise to consumers.
This isn't just about logos or slogans (but we’ll get to that!). It's about establishing a strong connection between your company and its audience. Customers should walk away from your branding materials knowing:
Some major questions your branding strategy should answer include:
Branding helps you differentiate yourself from competitors and gives you an advantage over them in the marketplace.
For example, Coca-Cola has been around for more than 100 years, but it's still one of the most recognizable brands in the world. Why is that? You might think the company’s primary focus is the product itself, but a deeper look into its branding strategy reveals it differently.
Coca-Cola isn’t just selling a soft drink. Consumers wouldn’t have any reason to choose it over the dozens of similar options on store shelves if it was.
Instead, it’s selling an experience. When you drink Coca-Cola, you’re drinking happiness, excitement, and joy–all of which the company strives to show in its bright commercials and friendly product design. Its most recent slogan is even called “Taste the Feeling!”
This effort has paid off, as Coca-Cola is consistently ranked the most valuable drink brand in the world.
So, brands are more than just names. They can also be visual and emotional cues that help people remember your product or service when shopping.
Now, this is where the term’s definition can get tricky. It’s important to remember that branding isn’t just about your product’s physical elements, and it’s not just about the “feeling” it offers. It’s a mixture of both!
The following are the main components of any brand.
A logo is often considered the face of a brand, but it's only one part of its identity.
Logos represent companies on:
This makes them a powerful visual cue. Think about Apple’s iconic half-eaten apple graphic or Nike’s swoosh symbol.
A great branding strategy can only do so much for a mediocre product.
If you want your brand to stand out, you’ll need to think about elements like:
Again, your branding strategy is selling two things: a product and an experience.
This involves factors like customer experience and company reputation. Think of Amazon’s commitment to lightning-fast online shopping or Southwest Airlines’ customer-centric approach to flying.
Marketing is the tools, platforms, and activities you use to capture consumer attention and invite them to learn more about your brand.
However, marketing isn’t just about advertising. It’s about finding ways to connect with customers using a variety of channels.
Some of these might take a few days to create and implement, while others might need a few months of development before they’re sent into the world.
Marketing largely depends on a pre-established branding vision and vice versa.
Remember that “feeling” you’re trying to generate with your products or services? Without any marketing material, there’s no way to elicit any emotion from your brand, let alone differentiate it from others.
Take Red Bull as an example. You’re probably imagining a few familiar images: motorcyclists racing past a Red Bull poster, powerlifters squatting the weight of a small vehicle in front of a Red Bull banner.
The company’s marketing strategy is simple yet effective. It’s now the top-selling energy drink brand globally.
By partnering with some of the most intense athletic events in the world, audiences have grown to associate the drink with adrenaline, focus, and power. As such, consumers have no reason not to believe that a single can will “give them wings”, just as its branding efforts have promised.
While branding generally relies on a set of pre-established elements, marketing has some room for experimentation. Thanks to the digital takeover, more marketing methods are available now than ever.
Since we’d need a novel to discuss every potential strategy your company can use, it’s easier to define the elements of marketing using the four P’s below.
As the most crucial component of any business, it’s no surprise that marketing first relies on a well-thought-out product.
Marketers need to know everything about a product before they can push it to the public:
They also need to consider deeper facets of your product, like its overall lifecycle (will it be outdated in a year, or is it something meant to last decades?).
All of this information will help inform the rest of the P’s.
Now it's time to start getting into the details. Ultimately, the question marketers want to answer at this step is: How much are consumers willing to pay for this product?
Of course, it’ll take some time and deliberation to land on the right number, and even that could eventually change.
However, some factors to consider include:
A few decades ago, where to sell your product was an easy question to answer. You could only sell your product at a physical location. Today, it’s a bit more complicated.
A brand focused on retail expansion might consider opening its own retail store. One example is the Apple Store. They could also consider partnering with a distributor. For example, think about how MAC Cosmetics sells products in Ulta.
Alternatively, they might focus on a digital-only approach, like selling on Amazon or opening their own online storefront.
Or, they might do both!
Remember that these decisions will also impact how consumers feel about your brand. This is why you don’t see Versace purses offered on the racks of Ross stores.
Promotion is the most recognizable aspect of marketing, though it’s one of the last steps marketers take when developing their strategy. After all, there’s no use investing in a TV spot if their product has no established price or unique features.
However, once these factors of a product are decided, marketers can finally begin pushing them towards audiences through:
You now know that branding and marketing are two crucial components behind a company’s success. The two work to push a product’s image and ensure the brand is immediately recognizable through logos, promotional campaigns, and more.
However, when developing either, you’ll want to ensure you’re spending your time wisely. Mistakenly focusing on a marketing task when building a branding strategy could distract you from more important steps and result in a mediocre outcome.
So, let’s review the differences between branding and marketing using some key criteria.
Branding is focused on creating a unique identity for a product or company.
It's about building awareness around who you are and what you stand for. Elements like your slogan develop your brand to make it immediately recognizable. For example, can you name the brand behind “The Happiest Place on Earth?”
Meanwhile, marketing is focused on promoting, selling, and distributing a product or service to customers.
This involves a diverse range of aspects within your business, from pricing your products to communicating with your customers.
Branding will always be the first priority when establishing your overall business plan, while marketing comes second.
Think about it: what use is there in purchasing a giant billboard if your company has no slogan, logo, or product to advertise? You’ll need to answer these fundamental questions before spending time and money on marketing.
You'll see a common pattern if you look at the timeline between a business’s branding and marketing efforts. Branding is forever; marketing is ever-changing.
On the other hand, changing your branding strategy is incredibly rare. After all, this is the foundation everything else is built on, so modifying one aspect of your brand means doing the same to multiple other aspects of your business.
Imagine the confusion ensuing if McDonald’s suddenly changed the color of its iconic golden arch to purple!
Measuring your marketing return on investment is fairly standard, as it relies on a trusted formula:
MROI = Marketing revenue - marketing spend / marketing spend x 100
On the other hand, measuring your branding’s return on investment isn’t always as straightforward, and it usually depends on long-term data. A few key metrics executives use to measure this include:
Marketing’s impact is almost always customer-centric. Things like TV commercials and celebrity partnerships are geared toward the public.
Though branding informs these efforts, it also has a secondary impact on workplace culture.
The personality and values a brand develops extend to its employees, which we can see in companies like Zappos. This customer-favorite online retailer’s motto is “Powered by service,” and it’s regularly recognized for offering one of the best customer experiences in the world.
Of course, this is only possible thanks to Zappos’ great company culture, which fosters a family-like spirit amongst colleagues and boasts an incredibly low turnover rate.
Deciding whether branding or marketing is more difficult is subjective since it depends on several elements.
Though both of them require plenty of dedication and time to nail down, which is more complex will come down to factors like the:
The great news is that branding and marketing leave lots of room for experimentation: one doesn’t always need to be more unique than the other.
You will need to follow the established steps to ensure you’re developing a comprehensive branding and marketing strategy, but the way you fulfill them is up to you.
For instance, you might create a wacky brand like Chubbies or establish a unique social media presence like Wendy’s company Twitter account.
The possibilities are endless!
No. Though they work together, branding informs a business’s marketing efforts.
As such, it’s more accurate to say that marketing falls under branding.
Not exactly. Marketing brings a business’s products or services to the public’s attention through promotional strategies like content marketing and advertisements.
However, none of this can happen without an already-established brand.
Good news! You technically don’t need to spend any money to develop your brand. This is the conceptual side of your business, so all you need is a piece of paper to write down your company’s values, vision, and more.
Marketing is where your budget comes into play. Once you’ve developed a solid brand, you can finally spend money to promote it and capture consumer attention.
It depends! To find this answer, you’ll need to review “Place” and “Promotion” in your four marketing P’s.
For instance, you might be solely selling your products on Etsy, so your marketing will likely revolve around promotions on that particular platform.
Though branding and marketing might’ve once sounded like synonyms, you now know they are two very different aspects of a business.
Still, that’s not to say they don’t interact with one another, as they operate much like a symbiotic relationship. Think of your brand as a book and your marketing as the publisher.
Fortunately, it’s easier than ever to develop a successful branding and marketing strategy using Copy.AI’s free online tools. Try out our brand slogan generator and business name generator for a head start against the competition!
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