Marketing experts balk at people who use the words branding and marketing interchangeably. James Heaton, one of these experts, wrote that a person at a financial institute said: “I think private wealth managers will have a hard time seeing the value of branding—they see marketing as a cost center, not a driver of sales.” And there it happened. They started with branding and ended with talking about marketing. While the two are related and necessary for a business’s success, branding and marketing are not the same things. In order to use branding and marketing the right way, you need to know the differences between the two.
Your business has to start with a brand to start marketing yourself. Even if you tried to market first, you would end up branding yourself first by default. A brand is your business’s expression of values and would support any of your marketing efforts by staying with a customer, whether they bought into your service/product or didn’t. Branding is what differentiates your service/product from your competitors. It’s what customers attach themselves to and perceive you to be.
Branding is everything your business does and doesn’t do. It’s your attitude. It’s what you say, wear, and associate with. And it never stops. You can turn off a marketing campaign; you can’t turn off your brand. That would be like a celebrity thinking they can do whatever they want when they’re off spotlight and never have their reputation—or their “brand”— be altered. There’s no such thing as brand business hours; those hours are 24/7.
A popular way to take control of your brand is by communicating that brand to your customers through a blog. A blog should be your customers’ trusted source of content where they can let their guard down from having to defend themselves against sales pitches.
Marketing, on the other hand, isn’t ongoing. It’s an “in-the-moment” tactic to grab the attention of your target audience, not a never-ending impression of your business. People won’t forget a brand, but they will eventually forget a marketing campaign. But that doesn’t mean a business shouldn’t market your business. Marketing is the push for sales. It’s an active promotion of your service/product to create customer interest. Ads are how you can market to your audience by telling people with a need about how you can help.
With marketing, it’s important that you leave the right impression because all your marketing efforts affect your brand by impacting how your customer perceives you. Your ads leave an impression on people, whether good or bad. How they perceive you is all in the way you market yourself. For instance, aggressive marketing can end up making your audience despise you. Sure, you’ll increase customer awareness, but in the wrong way. They’ll know you as the annoying company who won’t leave them alone.
The golden rule to marketing: avoid marketing to people the way you hate to be marketed to.
Branding and Marketing as One
Your brand is your audience’s impression of you, and your marketing is how you create awareness of that brand and what you offer. You need both to succeed. Start with your brand. Decide who you want your customers to see you as. Then create a marketing strategy that aligns with that brand identity. They both depend on each other. If you don’t market, few will ever know your brand; if you don’t brand yourself, your marketing will do that for you—but without intent, that brand may not be what you want. Branding and marketing should never be done haphazardly or without thought. They both need a strategy to provide your business with success.