Over the past decade, new business applications have seen a 75% rise, and with more people starting out than ever before, there’s never been a better time for the marketing and branding industries, which dominate the playing field when it comes to business success. However, it can sometimes be difficult to differentiate between these two concepts, and if you’re a business owner weighing up marketing vs branding, it can be tricky to decide which area to focus on first. Luckily, you’re not alone, so in this article we’ll be breaking down the differences between marketing and branding, as well as how they can be used effectively, to help you make the best choices for your business.
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So what is Marketing, and why does it matter?
Marketing encompasses a wide range of functions that serve to identify, reach out to and close sales with a target audience for a product or service. Throughout this process, marketers work diligently to scope out the general interest for their company’s products, as well as how likely they are to be received positively once they hit the market. To do this, marketing teams will reach out to potential customers through a range of communication channels, to work out how best to promote the product from the very start of its lifecycle. Once they have identified the receptiveness of their audience, they will work with project planning and delivery teams to push it out to market in a way that suits their customer base.
A successful marketing strategy is hugely important for any business, as this is how they can get their products noticed, understood and into the baskets of shoppers.
There are some common types of marketing that you might be familiar with, including, but not limited to:
- Digital Marketing – this marketing style involves using electronic forms of communication like mobile and email channels to reach out to customers and promote a business. Digital marketing can either elevate the brand’s overall image, or focus primarily on the products or services that the company offers, but either approach is a great way to reach out directly to the target audience. Digital marketing can be one of the many examples of B2C, or ‘Business to Consumer’ marketing, where companies will address individuals within their target audience directly.
- B2B Marketing – ‘Business to Business’ marketing strategies arise when a company’s target audience is another business, rather than an individual consumer. Often, companies will already have some awareness of the businesses that their marketing teams will be pitching to, but more research might be needed around the market value of a product or service to make this an effective strategy.
- Advertising – A subset of marketing, advertising allows marketing teams to promote their products by placing them at the forefront of any communication. Unlike other marketing communications that prioritize a brand’s ethos, advertising deals specifically with the products or services that are available, and allows the consumer to view these with commercial intent. As they are likely already familiar with the brand, advertising is the final push to encourage customers to support the business and find a product that they want or need. Advertising comes in many forms, but you might be most familiar with the social media, television or radio advertising that is utilized by a range of organizations.
Let’s now review what branding is before contrasting marketing vs branding.
A Branding Overview
Marketing and branding are very closely related – Branding really is a subset of marketing and should be part of any sound marketing strategy. Without strong, targeted branding, then any marketing campaign can suffer, as brand identity truly lies at the heart of any business success. If a customer doesn’t know who they are buying from, then why would they want to purchase their products? Branding is an ongoing process that should encapsulate the identity of a company or organization, and this can evolve over time to represent changes in the ideas and opinions of the brand. This is especially relevant in the digital age that represents a shift in attitudes towards businesses who outline their political views and regularly show outright support for charitable or social organizations that they know might polarize a portion of their target audience. For many people, businesses who go ahead and do this anyway convey a strong set of core beliefs that make buying from them a socially-conscious endeavor, and highlight the true importance of creating a brand fueled by integrity and openness.
The Branding Strategies of Organizations
Within the world of branding, companies take a huge range of different strategy approaches depending on their aims, history and what they feel will work best for their overall brand image. Some of the most common tactics employed by businesses include:
Family Branding, also commonly known as Multi-Product Branding, is a technique in which businesses use one brand name to cover the entire range of different products that they offer. This approach is a highly successful one to take for companies who already have a positive brand image, as using a name already associated with reliability and quality will encourage customers to consider purchasing newer items on offer. A successful multi-product branding strategy involves giving products their own identity, and being aware of the specific audiences that are targeted with their release.
If not careful, businesses can run into some problems with family branding. Risks include diluting the strength of a brand name by offering too many products, as customers start to see the brand name across a range of unrelated items and therefore treat the name with less positivity. Multi-product branding tactics also mean that if a customer has a negative experience with one item under the brand umbrella, they may view other products in the same brand with distrust, even if they haven’t used them before.
Line Extension Branding
Line extension is an effective brand growth strategy for businesses who may be losing customers to competitors who offer a similar, but distinctive product. For example, a company that sells video gaming laptops might specialize in products that provide a top of the range gaming experience, through powerful processors and expensive graphics cards. However, for individuals who want to purchase a similar model that doesn’t break the bank, their options might be limited and so they end up shopping elsewhere. As a response, if this company begins to offer a lower priced model, that still provides good value but uses lower-priced parts, they offer an option for those who have less disposable income. This opens up a world of possibility for both the business and the consumer, as the line extension promotes the brand as one that offers products to a wide range of people. This strategy also boosts the overall brand image of a company in the minds of their customers, and increases the association of the company with problem solving and dependability, which will leave them far more likely to return for new products in the future.
The line extension tactic works well alongside Flanker Branding, through which a business can offer a new brand or product that accompanies their existing range. For example, a successful cereal bar company could release a protein version of their existing product, to tap into the fast-growing market of individuals keen to improve their health and wellbeing. These customers will then associate the positive elements of the original cereal bar with the new feature that speaks to them most. By releasing a range of flanker products in order to reach customers who previously wouldn’t have had the need to utilize their products, this brand can then promote an all-encompassing image in the mind of their customer.
Leveraging Emotional Competitive Advantage
A highly effecting branding strategy is the utilization of emotional competitive advantage for maximum impact on consumer spending habits. The popular supermarket chain Aldi does a great job of this – rather than spending their marketing time discussing the quality of their unique product, they instead replicate as closely as possible the branding details of other popular companies, and use their customers’ strong positive associations of these brands to sell their own products. While the customer knows that they aren’t really buying a packet of Digestives, the powerful associations with a similar logo, colourway and font type make it easy to see the product in a positive light. This tactic has paid dividends for Aldi, with the supermarket upending some of their biggest US rivals and building their own brand identity as ‘the same quality for less’ in the process.
Marketing vs Branding – What are the Similarities between Marketing and Branding?
Now that we know what marketing and branding do, let’s compare marketing vs branding to see what they have in common and what the differences between marketing and branding are.
By taking a closer look at both branding and marketing within their own scope, we can understand the similarities that they share:
- Marketing and Branding share the same aims:
Both of these business areas share the aim of adding value to a customer’s experience, and increasing sales revenue. By creating a positive brand image and grabbing a customer’s attention through a clear branding and marketing strategy, these two functions can close sales and drive up consumer interest.
- The success of both strategies is measured in a similar way:
When measuring the success of either a branding or marketing campaign, companies will assess whether the strategy had its intended effect on the customer. This frequently involves using shared data points like how many impressions were converted to sales, and how many inbound or outbound communications resulted in a customer purchasing a product or signing up to receive a service.
- Branding and Marketing rely on the success of each other:
Another similarity between these two functions is that they rely on the success of each other – without a solid brand identity, no marketing campaign can take off successfully. Similarly, a strong marketing campaign is only as good as the brand it represents.
Marketing vs Branding – What are the Differences between Marketing and Branding?
While the two disciplines have overlapping elements (with branding actually being part of marketing), there are some obvious differences between marketing and branding.
- Marketing and Branding focus on different elements of a business:
While both functions work towards a similar outcome, marketing does this by focusing on who the customer is and what their needs are, whereas branding focuses more closely on who the company is and what it stands for. For example, a business that sells anti-aging cream will market their products through age-inclusive advertisement, but centre their brand image around being a company that welcomes everyone and supports causes close to the hearts of older people.
- Sales are made through different tactics:
While both marketing and branding ultimately aim to increase sales, marketing tries to do this through promoting a product, whereas branding does this by prioritizing increasing customer loyalty.
So how do they work together?
Contrasting marketing vs branding can be tricky because these two concepts are not entirely distinct. While marketing and branding are two different concepts that are carried out through different methods, at the core of any business they are deeply connected, and the aim of any company should be for their marketing and branding to work together in harmony. Without a strong marketing strategy, it will be difficult for potential customers to understand and appreciate your brand, but without a clear brand identity, even the best marketing tactics will fall on deaf ears. Through concise marketing that leads the customer to a compelling brand, companies can raise their business profile and drive sales from the very first time a customer becomes aware of their products or services.
Studies show that customers form an impression of a brand within the first seven seconds of their initial interaction, so having a strong brand identity is a great way for businesses to ensure that even if a customer isn’t purchasing a product right now, they will turn to them if the need for that product arises in the future. By funnelling these customers to the brand via an effective marketing strategy, businesses can utilize the relationship between these two concepts in the most efficient way possible.
Let’s summarize our discussion on marketing vs branding. Ultimately, while branding and marketing share a similar goal of bringing in and retaining customers, the strategies through which they do this differ greatly. Branding teams focus on how they want their customer to feel when they think about the company overall, whereas marketing is designed to draw attention to the products or services available, through addressing the specific needs of their target audience in a tangible way. If you’re a business owner, then understanding the differences between marketing and branding and how these two functions work together is the best way to drive company growth and communicate with your customers as effectively as possible.