Quick, a pop quiz. Are branding and marketing the same thing?

If you answered yes, think again. They’re not the same. In fact, the difference is crucial to understand if you want your business to grow effectively.

Branding vs. Marketing

Branding: Branding is your company's personality. It's how you talk, look, and handle sales calls and interviews. To use a term coined by Gen Z, your brand is your company's "like, total vibe, you know?" Branding is your strategy.

Marketing: Marketing is your company's interaction with the world. It's your social media posts, emails, and event promotion. It's in your job posts, client communications, and sales sheets. Marketing is your tactics.

When businesses mistake the two as the same, they miss out on crucial pieces of one or both. It's pretty straightforward. You can have the best strategy in the world, but you won't get anywhere if you have no tactics. If you have lots of tactics but no strategy, you'll spend your energy in the wrong places and won’t hit your goals.

Value vs. expense 

Branding differs from marketing in another, equally important way: it generates and stores value. Consider Starbucks and your local coffee shop. They both have their own set of loyal customers. The local coffee shop goers might go to Starbucks in a pinch, but they'll always pick their local shop over Starbucks. And vice versa.

Since their product is the same, why do some customers stick with the local shop and some stick with Starbucks? Because each has a unique brand personality—and those personalities resonate differently with people, according to their tastes and values.

Your brand is the personality of your organization, thus, storing value for your business since it's the brand that attracts customers.

Marketing, on the other hand, is an expense. It's what gets your brand in front of potential customers. You must spend capital to attract people and begin to garner brand recognition. Marketing is just as crucial as developing your brand since without it, you don't have a chance at growing your customers.

Thinking long term

Developing a solid brand and an effective marketing strategy takes time and effort, and most small businesses struggle to find time to work on both. But by starting small and staying consistent, you can make a significant impact long term.

  • Brand development: Define your values. Work with your team to discover what your core values are. What is your Why? How do your values impact your product and the promise you make to your customers?
  • Marketing: Communicate your values. Create a campaign to spread awareness of your brand's values. Define ways you can get these values in front of prospects. Identify goals and metrics to track your success. This might look like a social media campaign with videos breaking down your values or an internal report you share with your audience demonstrating how you uphold and stay accountable to them.
  • Brand development: Define your voice. Identify how you want to communicate with your audience. Are you serious and direct? Playful and helpful? Do you joke and use emojis, or keep your language corporate and buttoned up? Is your language simple or complex?
  • Marketing: Use your voice. In your next campaign, integrate your voice into how you present your information. If you want to hire for a position that just opened up, consider how you phrase the requirements and talk about it on social media. If you're selling a new product, what words do you use to describe how it will help the customer? Use your brand voice to help you make these decisions and ultimately affect who you attract.

These are some examples of how branding and marketing work off one another to help you create a more prosperous and purposeful company. When you understand how each tool works together, you can make a more significant impact. Your brand is powerful, but it's nothing without the effort of marketing.

One shouldn't exist without the other; the more intentional you can be, the more powerful you become.


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