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Branding vs Marketing: What's The Difference and How Brands Can Nail Both

Branding and marketing are business terms that often get used interchangeably. However, they are two very different concepts that are both vital to business success. Used correctly, branding and marketing create a strong identity, improved customer satisfaction, brand loyalty, and, ultimately, skyrocketing sales. 

Use this guide to understand branding vs marketing, and how certain strategies can help your brand stand out in both.

What Is Branding?

Branding is how you define who you are, and what you stand for. It includes your company’s mission and core values. Carefully shaping your brand identity will also communicate what’s unique about you. This is crucial for making you stand out from the crowd. You should consider this when establishing your brand on social media platforms. 

A large part of branding is visually represented by brand elements such as your logo, fonts, and color palettes. But it’s not just about looking good. A brand’s personality should also be reflected in its voice. This guides the choice of words, language, and tone across a brand’s marketing messages.

When it’s done right, ecommerce branding can have a powerful impact. Brands like Delta and Redbull are examples of phenomenally successful branding. Their simple logos now represent much more than a nice design — they are universally-recognized symbols that inspire emotion and stand for a community of passionate customers.

What Is Marketing?

Marketing is how companies actively promote their products or services to drive interest in their brand. It's the tools, processes, and strategies you use to connect with your target audience(s), influence their purchasing decisions, and encourage them to join your brand community. 

Marketing activities can have various objectives, such as getting someone to sign up for your email newsletter, follow your brand on social media, or use a discount code. But ultimately, the purpose of marketing is to drive revenue for your brand. 

Social media marketing is one of the more well-known avenues of marketing in today’s online world. Kimpton asks users to caption a photo the brand posts, with the overall goal of driving engagement and follows to boost brand awareness.

It includes market research, advertising, and branding itself. Marketing campaigns involve selecting the right tools, such as ads and landing pages, and developing the right content to use across channels like social media, your ecommerce website, emails, and more.

Branding vs Marketing

Branding tells consumers who you are, while marketing piques their interest, typically showing them how your products and services can improve their lives. So it’s clear they go hand-in-hand, and you’ll need both to create a successful business.

Mastering branding vs marketing can help you do so, if you understand these differences between the two concepts:

1. Branding Comes Before Marketing

Branding naturally precedes and underpins your marketing activities. It would help if you defined who you are, what your message is, and what you stand for before you can begin to reel in the right people with your marketing strategy.  

Perfecting your branding strategy will provide a sound foundation for your marketing activities. Without it, your marketing will be flying blind. Additionally, word of mouth marketing is the strongest avenue to spread awareness about a new brand, and having a clear identity and voice that consumers can reference can help word of mouth along.

2. Marketing Can Be Transient, While Branding Has Staying Power

While maintaining an overall consistency and strategy is crucial, marketing is also subject to industry changes. Marketing strategies can take advantage of opportunities like events, and trends to grab short-term gains.

Branding can create strong emotional connections with audiences that last for generations. Take a look at the big players for some valuable product branding tips. In order for your brand to be memorable, you’ll need to supplement strong marketing with a style and voice that consumers will remember.

3. Marketing Drives Conversion, Branding Drives Loyalty and Recognition

Okay, this is a sweeping statement. Branding also drives sales, but it takes a more long-term approach, and marketing also plays a key role in loyalty and recognition.

However, marketing is generally focused on effective action and increasing sales, which is vital if you want your business to succeed. But to build recognition and increase customer loyalty, you’ll need effective branding. This will play a significant role in boosting your sales in the long run.

One place marketing and branding overlap is in branded hashtags. Brands often create their own unique hashtags (branding) to promote engagement and discovery by consumers on social media (marketing. Branded hashtags are especially effective in encouraging customers to share user-generated content (UGC), authentic media that can be reused across your marketing channels.

Now that you have a clearer picture of branding vs marketing, here are some tips for nailing both.

Tips for Memorable Branding

1. Research Your Competitors

Your branding strategy should make you stand out in the crowd. To do this successfully, you need to know your competition. This will enable you to identify your point of difference, also known as your USP (unique selling point). 

Check out your competitors. What are you doing that they aren’t? What are you doing better than they are? The answers to these questions should be at the center of your branding strategy. Once you have defined your USP, you can use your branding to reinforce it, and make yourself more memorable than the masses. 

2. Be Consistent, Content and Style-Wise

Successful branding needs to be consistent. You must align your visuals, voice, and style across all your marketing messages.

Creating brand style guidelines will help your team maintain consistency. Ensure everyone has access to the guidelines, and uses them with confidence. This can include everything from your brand logo and preferred colors to sample email signatures for employees to appear cohesive.

Consistent branding will help create a strong brand identity, making it easier for consumers to recognize, and trust you. Ensure that the content on all of your owned channels is consistent. For example, displays on your website powered by outside tech vendors should be customizable to match the rest of your content.

Aritzia uses Pixlee TurnTo to build unique Ratings & Reviews displays that match their brand colors, fonts, and overall minimalist aesthetic.

3. Get to Know Your Ideal Customer

Branding involves getting to know your ideal customer. If you want to make an emotional connection with them, you’ll need to know them inside and out.

It can help to think of your ideal customer as a single person. Ask yourself what they are looking for in a brand. What are their wants, and needs? What are the problems they want your product/service to solve? You can get valuable insights from social listening methods like monitoring brand mentions with a UGC platform like Pixlee TurnTo.

A well-researched customer persona will pave the way for wildly effective marketing, which resonates with your audience by communicating profound benefits. 

4. Enhance the ‘Lived Experience’ for Your Customer

Branding is not just about appealing visuals. It’s created by many things, including customers’ experiences of the brand. Did they experience exceptional customer service? Were they impressed with the quality of your product? Was your website easy for them to navigate?

Positive customer experiences can lead to rave reviews, and recommendations. Customers can be converted into brand advocates. This opens up new opportunities to spread the word, such as word-of-mouth marketing. 

So branding is not just about what customers see; it’s increasingly about what they feel. 

5. Be Prepared to Evolve

Branding has more permanency than marketing, but you should still be prepared to make changes. Over time, your values, and those of your target audience will evolve. And you should be ready to evolve with them. 

Use market research, and evaluate the success of your marketing activities to keep a finger on the pulse of your customer persona. You’ll need to keep up to speed with data, including customer experience retail trends, to evaluate changes in buyer behavior, attitudes, and values. 

If you decide it’s time for a change to your branding, don’t be afraid to make it. Just make sure that if you do, you maintain consistency.

Underrated Tips to Lucrative Marketing

1. Stay in Sync With Your Branding

Your branding should underpin all your marketing activities. Ensure your brand voice is loud and clear in all your marketing messaging, that you address your target audience directly, and that your visuals are consistent. A misalignment could result in a costly failure to catch your audience’s attention.

Keeping your branding and marketing in sync will ensure customers recognize you, reinforce your brand identity, and strengthen your connection with your audience. One place where consistency between branding and marketing is important is influencer marketing campaigns. As you’re compensating an outside individual to promote your brand on their own channels, you’ll want to provide them with a clear campaign brief and idea of who you are as a brand.

2. Find the Right Channels

Once you have defined your customer persona, you’ll have a good idea of where they hang out. Then, you can then make sure your marketing is ideally placed to meet them where they are. For instance, TikTok is a great place to build your presence if you have a Gen Z audience, while Facebook may resonate better with an older crowd.

Your market research will help you find the right mix of online, and offline channels to boost your visibility with your ideal customers. This is where tech tools can play a big role; using a UGC platform like Pixlee TurnTo, your brand can access and collect social media content being shared by community members — by account mention, location, hashtag, and more. 

This gives you an idea of where your target customers are spending their time, and you can model your marketing after the posts they share to really hammer home content that they’re likely to connect with.

3. Share UGC & Influencer Content Beyond Social

It’s no secret that UGC and influencer content are extremely popular for social media marketing. After all, testimonials coming from your friends and family or a social media personality you trust are much more likely to persuade you to purchase than a brand’s own post. However, most brands don’t get the most value out of their UGC and influencer content, because they keep it on the social channel it originated on.

UGC and influencer content can be showcased in marketing emails, in shoppable Instagram displays on your brand’s website, on product pages, and more. The more social proof your community can access when taking in your marketing content, the more likely they are to add that product to their cart.

4. Stay Up-To-Date on Industry Trends

As marketing is focused on short-term goals, look for opportunities to creatively tie in your campaigns with whatever is hot at the moment. You can create campaigns that associate your brand with current trends, events, and holidays. This can grab media attention, generate referrals, and help build your community. 

One trend that many brands take advantage of today is a social media contest. This entails asking your followers to do something like share their photos with your product in exchange for the chance to win a gift or discount. Social media contests are incredible ways to drive engagement, website traffic, and increased UGC.

Ready to Tackle Branding vs Marketing?

It’s clear that branding and marketing have a synergistic relationship, and both are vital to your business's success. Hopefully, by highlighting their differences and giving tips for nailing them both, this guide should help you use them more effectively. So get ready to develop your brand’s personality, and start shouting about it.

Grace Lau is the Director of Growth Content at Dialpad, a free video conferencing platform for better and easier team collaboration. She has over 10 years of experience in content writing and strategy. Currently, she is responsible for leading branded and editorial content strategies, partnering with SEO and Ops teams to build and nurture content. Grace has written for domains such as CEO Blog Nation and VMblog. Here is her LinkedIn.

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Pixlee TurnTo welcomes contributed content from leading marketers, influencers and ecommerce experts.

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