The terms branding and marketing are often confused or used (incorrectly) interchangeably. However, knowing the difference between these two strategic activities can help you better execute specific campaigns with branding goals or with marketing goals.
Marketing and branding do overlap, but business owners should clearly distinguish branding vs marketing to integrate them successfully in an overarching digital strategy.
Marketing and branding are equally important, but forming your brand naturally precedes promoting it. You need to create a brand identity and develop your message before communicating it through marketing. Using this understanding of the difference between marketing and branding and learning how they work together builds a strong foundation for your company’s future marketing activities.
In this blog post, we cover what is branding, what is marketing, branding examples and marketing examples to form a clear picture of marketing vs branding. We also provide a holistic explanation of the difference between marketing and branding by discussing how the best branding and marketing services utilize them.
Understanding Branding vs. Marketing
Branding provides more clarity and direction to your marketing activities. With branding and marketing on your side, it’s easier to figure out the specific steps you need to take to lead your business to success.
Let’s define what is branding and what is marketing in simple terms, how any good branding and marketing company would.
What Is Branding?
Branding is the practice of shaping a business’s brand identity. When you create a brand identity, you give your business character and provide a complete narrative on what you offer, why you do it and where it all leads. It’s also about who you’re speaking to (your target audience), how you choose to communicate with them, and providing meaning to their experience with you. Part of your brand identity is represented visually through branding elements such as your logo, color palette and fonts. But it’s very much about the overall experience you provide your customers.
If you don’t create a brand identity, there would not be a reason for people to choose you over other businesses selling the same products and services. Fortunately, you don’t need to reinvent the wheel. A good branding and marketing agency leverages tried-and-tested branding principles (such as consistency and visibility), and learns from excellent examples of branding to guide to develop your brand identity.
Here are two companies every branding company watches out for:
Nike is always among excellent branding examples mainly because of its iconic slogan, “Just Do It.” It represents the core of its brand: inspiring athletes to conquer anything and keep moving forward – and in their words, if you have a body, you are an athlete. This idea is complemented by its famous “swoosh” logo representing motion and speed, among other branding elements that reinforce the unique Nike brand.
As a company touting branding and marketing success since the late 1800s, Coca-Cola is still one of the greatest examples of branding that every branding agency learns from. Its branding elements send a key message: Coca-Cola is an indispensable part of the happiest moments of your life. More than its exceptionally creative and memorable visual elements, they establish deep emotional connections and a sense of tradition in their audience’s lives for generations.
What Is Marketing?
Marketing is the practice of promoting and selling products or services. It encompasses disciplines including market research, advertising, sales and (of course) branding. Marketing involves specific and proactive strategies to reach your target audience, turn them into loyal customers and grow your business.
Common marketing activities include strengthening your website and social media platforms to establish a robust online presence, ensuring every physical location feels familiar and comfortable using basic branding principles, and connecting with your target audience through online and offline brand awareness and engagement campaigns. How you execute your marketing strategy is defined by your branding strategy.
Using the same companies in the earlier branding examples, let’s dive into marketing examples:
In line with Nike’s brand of pushing for excellence, one specific marketing campaign that made waves was the “Find Your Greatness” campaign. The message was simple: it’s more about personal achievements than championship trophies. It featured ordinary people and empowered everyone to go for what they desired. Thinking back to the examples of branding, Nike’s brand of pushing for excellence became was the backbone for this campaign.
In Coca-Cola’s “Share a Coke” campaign, the idea was to share moments of happiness with friends and family – with Coca-Cola in the background. The branding and marketing agency that worked on this made waves by letting consumers enjoy Coca-Cola bottles personalized with their names, making it an even more personal experience for them and their families.
These branding and marketing examples showcase the importance of having a good grasp of who your company is. Nike and Coca-Cola have been successful with their campaigns because they took the time to perfect their branding strategy. As a result, they communicate their purpose well with their audience, making it easier for their market to remember their brand.
The Difference Between Branding and Marketing
If branding is the author, marketing is the publisher. While creating a brand identity comes before creating marketing strategies, the two have shared goals. So it’s not a question of marketing vs branding, rather how one complements the other.
Here are points that highlight the difference between branding and marketing:
Branding comes before marketing.
Your brand identity is the foundation of all your marketing plans. Without a meaningful logo, you can’t make an ad. Without a brand persona, you can’t have a unified tone of voice in your social media captions. It’s natural for people to want a reason to pay attention to you, so the emotional value in your branding comes before the actual value of the product or service. Your brand identity is like a toolbox that your marketing team takes from, depending on the objective.
Marketing increases sales, while branding builds customer loyalty.
Marketing strategies are expected to deliver on short-term sales goals. For instance, Olympics-related ads would be an excellent way to grab attention and spike sales around the time of the Olympics. But what your brand and what your company stands for doesn’t change – whether it’s the Olympics or not. Your marketing campaign gets people to purchase, but your values and how your message resonates with them keep them loyal.
Marketing grabs your audience’s attention, and branding keeps it.
Your customer might discover you through an ad campaign, but they need a reason to trust you. A branding agency uses branding principles to build a connection with your customers and create your story, while a marketing agency piques their interest and gets more people to listen to you. A good branding and marketing company crafts strategies around a long-term business plan to keep your brand relevant for generations to come.
Again, it’s not about branding vs marketing because they don’t compete. The main difference between marketing and branding is that branding answers the questions “who” and “why” and marketing answers the question of “how” – different but equally necessary answers.
How Marketing and Branding Work Together
Everyone’s understanding of branding used to be limited to the design elements such as the company logo, color palette, and more. But recent years have emphasized the importance of the customer experience – what they feel is just as important as what they see. Branding is integral to being memorable, connecting with your audience, being unique and inspiring customer retention.
The two most important ways marketing and branding work together:
1. Connecting With Your Audience
If your customers support your business, it probably means they have shared values. Branding naturally brings together a community this way, but marketing is what nurtures that connection. One of the most important tasks of a branding and marketing company is finding out what your target audience values and the best channels to reach them.
2. Balancing Your Priorities
You won’t be growing your business effectively if either branding or marketing gets left behind. For instance, your marketing campaign could be wasting money if it doesn’t align with what your brand stands for, but you also don’t want to be held back from marketing opportunities when your target audience’s values start to change. A continuous effort to balance branding and marketing priorities brings you towards the ultimate goal of growing your business.
Working With a Branding and Marketing Agency
The marketing vs branding debate first came about at a time when the digital landscape was changing drastically and people reacted in different ways. But because of how fast things change today, the discussion on branding vs marketing turned into one about synergy.
Keep in mind that as businesses continue to evolve, so should your branding and marketing priorities. It’s important to stay true to your brand values and remain open to fresh ideas and new ways to market your business. To stay ahead of the competition, you need to continuously learn, adapt and optimize your strategy – and you can’t go wrong with expert help.
Thrive Internet Marketing Agency is a full-service digital marketing and branding agency growing businesses of all sizes since 2005. As a branding company and marketing agency rolled into one, working with us gives you years of experience in both fields and a partner in tailoring your approach to your specific business needs.
Our end-to-end branding and marketing services include social media marketing, video production services, content writing. We offer online reputation management services to help you stay on top of your brand perception and improve the quality and quantity of your online reviews. We also work on your web design and search engine optimization (SEO) strategies for a holistic approach to improving your online visibility and sales.
Contact us today to learn more about how a marketing and branding company can bolster your business performance and set you up for long-term success.