Branding or Marketing? Where should I begin?
Branding and marketing are key initiatives for business growth and closely associated. Sometimes it can be hard to know where one ends and the other begins. What exactly is branding? And what is marketing? How are they related? And what are the distinctions?
The answers to these questions can help you plan and map your business growth. An understanding of their differences, and their similarities, will ensure greater impact because both are equally important.
The sweet spot where branding and marketing merge
Since branding is who you are and marketing is how you promote, both branding and marketing require an understanding of your customer base, and both are required to establish as well as build a connection with customers. Both are also required through the different stages of growth of a business, whether it is at the start, or during expansion. Branding and marketing are also inseparable, and in fact influence each other a whole lot, during the development of all marketing communication for the business.
To create a global footprint while at the same time establish itself as the companion of choice for cricket lovers, beer brand Bira 91 became the official partner of the ICC World Cup 2019. It was the only beer to be poured at the event and its marketing focused on Sixes, associating the brand with the happiest moments in the matches.
Since both branding and marketing are used to increase revenue and reach out to potential customers, the terms are erroneously used interchangeably. But the two are distinct disciplines.
Where branding and marketing differ
Branding comes first
Your branding creates an image in your customer’s minds and shapes the impression you leave on them. That’s why, before you start talking about your company or its offerings, it is important to define this company image.
Often, businesses dive straight into reaching out to customers and marketing their products or services; because the success of a business depends on this. In such cases, building the business brand gets postponed indefinitely as the demands of marketing begin to take precedence. That’s why it’s best to think about your company’s branding right at the start.
Starbucks achieved its expansion from a small coffee store to a global business worth millions because of its early focus on customer experience and branding - which extended to the artwork on the walls, in-store music, and even the seating.
Marketing initiatives change frequently
Since who you are as a company is unlikely to change for a very long time, your brand identity follows suit. Marketing, on the other hand, changes with changing customer demographics, the emergence of new marketing channels, alterations in business offerings, if your business is entering new markets, changing seasons, and so on.
Branding is ongoing and consistent
During some months in a year, your marketing initiatives get enhanced, for example during the festive season, or they may get retracted during a lean season. While marketing efforts ebb and flow, branding remains in use, in the same way. Once the brand personality has been established, it stays consistent, and at work for years. For example, the look and feel of your business premises, or your customer service style, will remain the same even after a marketing campaign has ended.
Some other notable differences include:
Marketing is essential to get customers’ attention and branding is essential to keep the attention
Marketing drives sales and branding drives loyalty
Unlike marketing, your branding affects your corporate culture and employees as well
In today’s fiercely competitive markets many businesses offer similar, or comparable products and services. Marketing will ensure you reach your customers and engage and connect with them. Branding will ensure they can make a distinction between you and your competition and will give them a reason to keep coming back.
The Apple Inc logo - the bitten apple - identifies all products of the brand, and brings the customers back, again and again, to indulge in its established status symbol.