As a business owner, you don’t have to know everything about every aspect of your business when you’re first starting out (or ever, for that matter). But you do need to know something about everything. While a visionary leader may inspire their staff and lead them bravely forward, they’ve also got to know enough to delegate and manage effectively. At the very least, they’ve got to know what they don’t know and seek support accordingly.
This is the main reason for a branding and marketing company to exist: To support businesses in developing and achieving their marketing goals.
But sometimes, these goals are a little unclear or muddled. And, at least in part, this is often because of inconsistent branding that makes successful marketing a challenge.
Branding and marketing are two terms that are sometimes used interchangeably—but shouldn’t be. Though connected, they’re two different facets of growing your business, and it’s important to understand the unique role that each has to play.
In this post, we’ll clearly define branding and marketing. We’ll take a look at some examples of companies with strong brand identities and also consider how branding and marketing fundamentally complement each other. We’ll finish off by giving you some ideas about how to get started right away on refining your business’s branding and marketing strategies.
Let’s dive in!
What Is Branding?
Simply put, branding is your business’s identity. It’s who you are and encompasses everything from your company’s logo and mission statement to its tone and aesthetics. Your brand communicates a message to the world and (hopefully) resonates deeply with your target audience.
Your business’s brand might be shaped by words or phrases like rugged, sophisticated, trendy, or naturally beautiful, but it’s also guided by core beliefs and attitudes. Ultimately, it underpins every business decision you make and sets you apart from your competition. When done right, branding fosters widespread recognition for your business, builds positive brand sentiment, and enhances customer loyalty.
Impactful branding may evolve subtly over time, but it doesn’t fundamentally change based on trends, seasons, or any other external factor. Put another way—your brand is permanent. Effective branding also extends beyond sales to company culture and personnel. Your brand says everything about who you are as a business, so be sure it represents you the way you want it to.
There are many elements that define brand identity, and they go far beyond logos, fonts, and color schemes (though those are also important). In no particular order, here are some of them (not an exhaustive list):
- Brand purpose – Why does your business exist (other than to make sales)?
- Brand vision – What does your business dream of for the future?
- Brand values – What are the core beliefs that lay the foundation for your business?
- Competitor research – How does your business stand out from the competition?
- Brand language and tone – Is your business professional, elegant, quirky, or genuine? How does that come across in your language usage?
- Brand name – What’s in a name? Quite a lot, actually, when it comes to branding. Consider carefully before committing to a brand name.
- Slogan – A slogan done right can stick in people’s minds and make your business better known
- Logo – Your logo is the visual identity of your business.
- Typeface or font – The typeface or font you choose to represent your business can send a clear message about its identity.
- Color palette – Primary, neutral, or pastel, your brand’s color palette communicates a great deal and is not something to take lightly.
- Graphics – Make sure they’re stylistically in sync with your brand identity.
- Music and audio elements – Like graphics, audio elements must also consistently represent your brand identity.
- Digital presence – How do your website and social platform presence reflect your branding?
- Physical presence – How does your retail space or office reflect your branding?
Examples of Strong Brands
Some companies just nail it with their branding. Here are examples of a few biggies that we feel are consistently on point in communicating their identity to the world:
- Coca-Cola – Coke’s branding has positioned the drink as a key element of happy moments over many decades. Generations of people have grown up with this association.
- Nike – The Nike brand inspires people to reach their full potential with its famous swoosh logo and “Just Do It” slogan.
- IKEA – IKEA’s brand identity positions it as innovative, stylish, and affordable. A winning combination!
- Walmart – Walmart has built its branding around offering the lowest possible prices and stays consistently within this vein across the board.
What Is Marketing?
If branding is the why of your business, marketing is the how—how your business promotes and sells itself, that is. Marketing is highly tactical and measurable. Unlike branding, your business’s marketing strategy doesn’t remain consistent over time (or at least it shouldn’t).
Marketing is dynamic and often customized around time-sensitive occurrences such as seasons and holidays (e.g., Valentine’s Day, Back to School, or Summertime). It is driven by target audience research and takes trends and fads into account.
At its core, marketing promotes the identity defined by your company’s brand. It drives sales and increases revenue. Put another way, marketing is the microphone that amplifies your brand’s message to the masses.
There’s not much out there that hasn’t been tried when it comes to marketing methods. From print ads to email marketing and from mascots on the side of the road to product placement in blockbuster films, marketing is a massive and creative landscape.
Here, in no particular order, are some of the more common traditional and digital marketing tactics in use today:
- Print campaigns (magazines, billboards, direct mail, etc.)
- Pay per click (PPC) advertising
- Email marketing
- Social media marketing
- Television and video marketing
- Radio and podcast marketing
- Search engine optimization (SEO)
- Content marketing
Developing Your Business’s Marketing
Most current businesses use a combination of traditional and digital marketing methods in their overall marketing strategy. Traditional and digital marketing complement each other effectively and can also help you to target different segments of your market.
Branding & Marketing Are Intertwined
Now that we’ve examined the differences between branding and marketing, it’s also important to acknowledge that they’re closely intertwined.
Branding is a critical element of effective marketing. In fact, a marketing strategy can’t be fully devised for your business until brand identity has been defined and developed in detail (see below).
Likewise, branding can’t exist in isolation. Even the most unique and refined brand identity won’t sell products or build customer loyalty without being marketed.
Put another way, marketing grabs potential customers, while branding maintains their interest.
Below are three important ways that branding and marketing can work together to drive sales for your business:
Your brand’s voice reflects its identity and target consumers and can be developed via written or spoken language (page content, social media posts, videos, audio ads, and more). If you want your line of surf-wear to come off as cool or your limousine service to impress high-end clientele, you’ll need to carefully consider your brand’s word choice, tone, and language style.
Marketing takes the voice you’ve developed for your brand and shares it creatively with the masses. Ideally, your brand’s voice resonates with your target audience and results in successful marketing campaigns.
Like brand voice, visual branding also reflects your company’s identity. Brand image encompasses everything from the logo to typeface, color scheme, and more. It must be consistent across all media channels (as well as in-store or in-office, if applicable).
A thoughtful and consistent brand image allows marketing campaigns to build recognition of your brand across all marketing channels.
The real truth is this: If you deeply understand your target market, you’ll be able to build your branding strategy and marketing efforts accordingly. Good branding takes into account the interests, desires, and attitudes of the consumers it hopes to attract, and good marketing reaches them where they’re at.
Never ever underestimate the importance of knowing and understanding your business’s target audience.
Branding Comes Before Marketing
Branding is at the heart of your company’s marketing strategies. Therefore, your company’s brand needs to be fully developed before you begin to explore marketing possibilities.
Think of it this way: You wouldn’t plan to publicly introduce a stranger to your community of friends. But you’d certainly introduce your fiance, whose identity you know well and love. Marketing is exactly the same. Publicly marketing your brand to your target audience before you feel confident about its identity can result in confused or inconsistent advertising and a decrease in sales.
To conclude, branding and marketing are not one and the same. While branding defines your company’s identity, marketing promotes that identity to your target audience.
That being said, branding is a core element of effective marketing. Branding and marketing are intertwined, and both are critical to driving sales and increasing revenue.
RAPTAP Marketing is a digital marketing agency that takes great pride in serving the needs of small businesses. If you’re looking to improve your business’s marketing strategy, we can support you in developing your brand identity. For San Antonio SEO services plus much more, contact us today!