Branding vs Marketing – 101 Quick Guide: What is the big difference?

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Natcho Angelo

Co-Founder & CEO of Kuubiik, advocates for global talent equality in outsourcing. He writes on outsourcing, entrepreneurship, and creative solutions.

You always hear these two common terms when it comes to business – branding vs marketing. It comes as no surprise that most people think they are the same but in actual fact, branding and marketing serve two different functions in business though they work together to drive business growth and sales turnover. Hmm…interesting. So Branding vs Marketing, what is what exactly?

What is Branding? 

Would you say that you hear the word “branding” from almost everyone’s lips nowadays? It is like the trending term, even influencers are using it. Simply put, branding is all about your brand. It consists of your logo, message, values, unique selling points and “personality”. 

Branding is about different facets of your “personality”. 

Business Branding is somewhat similar to Personal Branding. It can be as stifling as wearing a business suit to a meeting with stakeholders because the occasion calls for this dress code or it can be as casual as wearing bermudas to the same meeting because that is who you are. 

It is in a nutshell, the message you are sending and the things that make your business wonderfully unique.  

Branding vs Marketing - What is the difference

Emotional Branding: Connecting to your audience on an emotional level

It is not just about your logo colours, tone of your voice or the design on your website. It goes beyond, it is that sense of emotional connection you create with your target audience and how you appeal to them on an emotional level. What do you mean, you may ask?

Think Mercedes. Whenever you see their commercials with the sleek black or white vehicles, what are the things that come across your mind? Luxury, exquisite and trustworthy, right? Now this is what branding is about. You will never find their message straying away from their branding like having a pink hippo wearing a bikini because that is not who they are. 

Customers connect with their classic style on an emotional level and they are naturally attracted to Mercedes vehicles because it indicates prestige and reliability. They are attracted to the possibility of owning a luxury vehicle one day and becoming part of the “it” crowd. Branding tells your story and delivers your message, helping customers to know what they can expect from your products and/ or services. Ok, then what about marketing?

Branding vs Marketing - What is the difference

What is Marketing?

Marketing is about where and how you position your products and/ or services based on your branding. It is about the channels you use to deliver your message to the target audience and convert them into customers. 

Marketing Channels

There are various channels to execute your marketing strategysocial media, email marketing, search engine optimization (SEO), link-building etc. They all have the same and only goal – to promote your brand’s message and attract customers to buy your products and/ or services.

Branding vs Marketing - What is the difference

Marketing Research: Finding Your Target Audience

Marketing is a complex network of strategies and processes. Before execution of your marketing strategies, you would need to perform market research first and find out whether your target market is there and the odds that people will buy your products and/ or services. 

Marketing helps you find the optimal channels, the best target market and segment markets to acquire a bigger market share. It helps you achieve your business goals while staying aligned with your brand’s message. Then should we do marketing first? Nah, not quite right. 

Branding Comes First

In the grand scheme of things, branding must come first because you need to know your own identity first before embarking on marketing. If you reverse the steps, marketing will become a matter of trial and error and that will bring frustrations as well as delayed results.

One thing for sure is that marketing evolves according to consumerism because what is trending today might not be the same tomorrow. However, your branding stays the same because it is about your personality so the challenge will be to adjust and adapt to the evolving trends in market variations while staying aligned to your brand’s values. It doesn’t mean that your brand will go into stagnancy.

Rather, there are always tweaks and improvements businesses need to make in order to retain customer loyalty and enjoy continual longevity. As long as your core values are there, you will always be on the right track. 

Branding vs Marketing: No, Branding, then Marketing.

Though marketing drives sales, branding is the forerunner that gets your business past one time purchases and maximizes your marketing efforts because it is all about feels. You need to get your target audience to feel connected with you deeply on an emotional level before they will think of buying your products and/ or services. 

It is like having a relationship. You need to build that rapport first, make the person feel that he/ she has something in common with you or something they desire is found in you before they make a commitment on another level. 

In conclusion, branding and marketing cannot live without each other. They complement each other and when you nail both of them right, sales will result naturally, boosting business growth and customer base.