Today’s blog is inspired by a post I scrolled up on from brand designer, Dain Walker. The post was so bang on the money that I couldn’t not share it. It was about the difference between branding and marketing. It went a lil something like this:
What I loved about it was, in a nice tidy nutshell, it very accurately explains two concepts that people often feel confused about or mistake as being the same.
To help break it down a little more, this blog dives a little deeper into each of the core differences between branding and marketing to help you better understand how they differ, and the role both play in connecting your business with the people who matter.
We’ll talk about:
BRANDING IS THE WHY & THE BEING, MARKETING IS THE HOW & THE DOING
Often when we’re defining a business’ brand, an easy way to understand it is to personify it. Here, we imagine the brand as a living, breathing person with their own flair and style. We imagine how they dress, how they talk, and the essence of who they are. We also then think about what fuels and drives this person. What motivates them to do what they do in the way that they do it. When we talk about branding being the why and the being, this is what we talk about. At the highest level, the brand speaks to the purpose of a business and the overall way it puts itself out there in the world. Purpose and personality are two things people love to, and can easily, connect with.
The flow on from this is the delivery, and that’s where marketing comes in. Once we understand the being of a brand, we put this into action through our marketing ensuring that everything we do, from the way we show up with our customers, to the way we write and design content, deliver our services or produce our products, aligns with the brand. Our processes and the way we actually do business is marketing, and it’s most effective when it happens in symmetry with our brand.
Here’s an example of how a high-end salon might break it down:
BRAND (BEING) LEVEL:
We are glamorous, sophisticated, and chic. We believe in quality, care, and giving our clients an experience where they feel like queens, from the moment they arrive they step into a haven where only the best hands and products are used and that they are our sole focus.
MARKETING (DOING) LEVEL:
We use language such as, “Good Morning Lovely” instead of “Hey Buddy”. We use a very sleek, monochromatic design style across all graphics. We use only organic, hand-crafted hair and skin care products. We ensure our salon space is always sparkling clean, with soft music playing and essential oils diffusing. Our staff wear smart black uniforms, and always have their hair in a tidy bun.
BRANDING BUILDS LOYALTY & CREATES VALUE, MARKETING BUILDS RESPONSIVENESS & EXTRACTS VALUE
We’ve all heard about the know, like and trust factor - a factor that’s pretty essential in getting lay people to become praise-singing fans in all that you do. In order to get people to know, like and trust us we have to (a) know who we are first, and (b) give people something they can sink their teeth (and heart) into. This is where the marriage of branding and marketing comes in.
It’s through your brand that you build loyalty. When a business leads with its brand, every decision it makes is driven by the “why” as in “does this align with our bigger mission and reason for existing” and the “being” as in “does this align with who we are and how we want to be known”. This congruence creates trust as customers learn to rely on the consistency of your business and the fact that everything it does, it does in a certain way.
It’s also through your brand that you create value, and become valuable to your audiences. By running your business in essence with your brand you bring a little heart and soul to the transactional component of your business, helping to solve the problems your customers face in a way they can relate to and connect with. Here is where you build the like factor.
Marketing is then the process of actively communicating who you are and the value you provide in order to get people to take action.
If the brand is all about high-end service delivery, they will do things like choose quality over price for the products or equipment they use, and always aim to ensure their clients receive the best possible care.
From a marketing perspective then, their Instagram content, website content, emails, etc. would be centred upon telling audiences about those choices, and sharing the experience of those who left saying, “We felt so well looked after”. The intent behind sharing this insight is to entice the audience to book their services or buy their products.
BRANDING DEFINES THE LONG-TERM, MACRO TRAJECTORY, MARKETING DEFINES THE SHORT-TERM, MIRCO TACTICS
Lastly, the biggest difference between branding and marketing is the timing. A brand is something that sticks around. It’s here for the long-haul. When a brand chops and changes every five minutes it becomes very hard for people to know, like and trust it because it’s clear it doesn’t really know, like or trust itself. As branding also hinges heavily upon the “why” of a business, it’s very much about always looking ahead and staying aligned with the bigger mission we set out to achieve when we started the business.
Marketing on the other hand, often runs in cycles. A tactical marketing strategy for example may be an 8-week launch plan, a quarterly plan for seasonal products, or a 12-month plan of recurring activities. Marketing is where you take the mission and break it down into actionable steps, defining things like:
We will send three emails per month to these audiences about these things
We will produce one blog post per month focused on these topics and share it out in these ways
We will host five events focused on these things, for these people