Hint: you can’t effectively do one without first doing the other.
These two words are used interchangeably so often, it’s no wonder most people think they mean pretty much the same thing. But there’s a fundamental difference that every organization operating in a free market economy should know.
Branding is who you are.
Your brand is how you are perceived: by customers, potential customers and even your own employees.
- Your company mission and values
- Your products and/or services
- Your target customers
- And most importantly, your competitive edge in the marketplace
All these characteristics combined make up your brand: the strong, unique identity that produces recognizability, confidence and loyalty in your audience.
Marketing is how you sell it.
If the brand is strategy, marketing is tactics. Using your brand identity as a guide, you can make high-return, cost-efficient decisions on how best to reach — and sell — your audience.
Say your company is a high end clothing boutique known for giving customers a luxury shopping experience. To reinforce this selling point, you send out elegant invitations to a private VIP wine & shopping night. The customer experience is your brand. The invitation is your marketing.
Branding is the horse. Marketing is the cart.
You might think your brand is self-evident and doesn’t need to be spelled out. But without having such a platform in place, it’s easy to react to a passing fad or market condition and sabotage your brand without realizing it.
What if your clothing boutique, instead of promoting luxury goods and service, sent out a Black Friday flyer offering “50% discount to the first 50 customers”? Yeah, you might get some extra traffic from people outside your defined customer base. But you’ve weakened your original reputation … and probably the customer loyalty you had because of it.
Marketing wins the day. Branding wins the lifetime.
Branding is an investment that pays for itself the more — and the longer — you do it. That’s a difference you can take to the bank.