As a small business, you know how important it is to build your brand. Getting the word out there is vital, but so is figuring out what exactly that word is. And the more you try to do one, the more you realize that you need to get the other figured out. Welcome to the complementary, symbiotic concepts of branding and marketing!
If you're a little fuzzy on the difference between the two, don't worry: you're not alone. Even the most seasoned business owners sometimes struggle to figure out where one ends, and the other begins. That's why we've written this primer for you.
Marketing and Branding: What's the Def?
First up, some quick definitions. Branding is everything that goes into positioning your brand as a unique player in the market. It's what you do when you define and create the look, feel, and message of your brand. It's your logo, your brand voice, your color palette, your mission, and your values - or in short, the experience that you promise your customers. Branding is something you think long-term about.
Marketing, on the other hand, involves taking your branding to the audience it's designed to connect with. The goal is to create interest, generate leads and sales, and foster brand loyalty. Because the aim is to reach an ever-larger audience, marketing is shorter-term in its goals. You'll cycle through plenty of strategies and campaigns over time, but your brand should be steady sailing.
It Takes the Two to Tango
Marketing and branding are separate and distinct disciplines, but they do overlap. And importantly, each informs the other. You could spend a fortune on a brilliant rebrand only to have it go totally unnoticed in the absence of a strategic marketing campaign. On the flip side, buying ad space in Times Square won't do you any good if you don't have a clear, cohesive brand and message to communicate.
All that said, there's a definite order to these things. Just like you build a house from the foundations up, you build a company from the brand up. That's why it's vital to invest the time into defining who you are as a brand before moving into the nitty-gritty of marketing strategies and techniques. But one key caveat: when developing your brand identity, make sure it's something that will represent your brand in all the right ways. Remember, all those color choices, decisions around "voice", and hand-picked brand values will find their way into your marketing materials. Always brand with a purpose - and an audience.
It's Time To Get on Brand
A brand that slacks on the branding and goes all out with its marketing campaign will see some measure of success. And a brand that does the opposite will see some niche interest. But it's the brands that strategically invest in both branding and marketing that generate real sales success - along with a following of loyal fans. So before you sign off on that next marketing campaign, consider whether you have all of your branding ducks in a row, or whether it's time to shore up your foundations before sitting a house on top of them.