Branding vs. marketing: we’re exploring the difference between the two and how you can utilize them together to be even more effective in business.
Do you market first or do your branding? Do you need a brand to market? Can you just build a brand without marketing? But, aren’t they essentially the same thing?
The questions may seem endless when it comes to brand, branding and marketing. They operate in similar spaces. And yet, they’re vastly different.
Of course, you can ask 100 different brand and marketing professionals on the differences or similarities between branding and marketing. Like the definition of brand, there are an endless amount of perspectives.
So, what’s one more? Today, we’re diving into where we stand on branding, marketing and how to effectively use them together to bring more ease and enjoyment into your business building efforts.
In This Article
What is brand and branding?
At Witt and Company, we define brand as how people think, feel and act in regards to your business.
How you actually get people to think, feel and act towards your brand is through a combination of brand elements like your messaging, logo, color scheme and website.
Branding, then, is the collection of elements that shape how someone thinks, feels and acts in relation to your brand.
While the list above is by no means exhaustive, you can see that most of the items above are ‘behind the scenes’. Together, they create specific thoughts, feelings and actions about your business.
What is marketing?
Marketing is persuading someone to take action, said by one of my all-time favorite marketers, Seth Godin.
It’s more external-focused and puts the branding elements into practice to influence a behavior. Think specific and proactive strategies with the goal of reaching your ideal client so you can turn them into loyal customers.
5 common branding and marketing misconceptions
I must market everywhere in order to move the needle.
When you’re clear on what you’re all about as a brand, and more importantly, who you’re a great fit for, you realize that you don’t have to be everywhere in order to move the needle. It’s absolute bullshit that you must be on all the channels, showing up in all the places, in order to effectively market your business. Go where your right people are. If you’re showing up half-assed in five different channels but your market is only hanging out in one of them, what’s the point? Wouldn’t you rather go all-in on that one and magnify your marketing efforts? Work smarter, not harder, my friends.
I have to be consistent, no matter what.
Yes, consistency is KEY. But a certain type of consistency. I dig into the idea of brand consistency versus consistent marketing a lot more in this blog post but the gist is: If you’re more concerned with making sure you hit that posting schedule than in sharing something that’s aligned with your overarching brand, you will likely wind up with lackluster results. Because yes, posting every Monday, Wednesday and Friday is important but if what you’re actually sharing isn’t consistent with what you’re all about as a brand, it doesn’t matter the cadence. Quality is way more important than quantity.
I can start marketing without doing any brand work.
Effective marketing is influenced and guided by your brand. Yes, you can go out there, show up everywhere, say all the things. But. But how are you going to connect to your right people with that approach? When you have your brand foundation in place, when you have clarity on your brand, you can then determine the RIGHT places to market your business, so that you’re effective. Not just spouting shit off to anyone and everyone, but rather, showing up with value because you know what you’re all about as a brand.
I don’t need to market, I have a brand.
Woohoo, you have a solid and kickass brand. What more is there to do? Because of course the Field of Dreams adage, ‘If you build it, they will come,’ works like a charm… If only. Unfortunately, you still need to market your business, even if you have all the branding items checked off the list. Marketing is how you tell people about the great brand and business you have. And, branding is what will make marketing a hell of a lot easier. But it won’t do the work for you – you still need to market and get visible.
I need #allthethings for my visual brand in order to get visible.
We often think that if we don’t have every single branding element dialed in at 100%, we cannot get out there and market our business. I call BS (again) on this notion. Yes, a logo is important because it helps build brand awareness. And picking your colors and fonts are also important so you’re creating visual consistency. But, beyond that, you really don’t need much to get out there and get visible. Is it helpful to have more? Absolutely. But if you’re not marketing your business because you’re waiting for all the graphics to be done and the website to be finalized and the color palette to be tweaked (again for the 100th time), you’re waiting too long. Get out there, share your message and start connecting with your right audience.
Where to start and how they work together
As a brand strategy and design studio, it should come as no surprise that the recommendation is to start with branding. But not everything – just a few key brand elements for your internal and external brand.
Internal and external brand
Your internal brand is all the stuff behind the scenes; what your audience won’t necessarily see outright. I.e., strategy, messaging, personality and process. The external brand is what most people think of when they hear ‘brand’. I.e., logo, colors, fonts, website, collateral.
For your internal brand, start with strategy. The who, what, why and where of your brand.
Sidenote: If you want more information on brand strategy,
Check out these posts..
If you are looking for even more brand clarity, you can dig into your brand message, personality and process. But it’s more like extra credit since these elements can be defined and developed right alongside your visibility efforts.
When it comes to the external brand, having a logo, a set color palette and typography recommendations are a great start. Bonus tip: Throw them together in a visual brand style guide.to help you and your team stay consistent.
Once you have clarity on your brand’s foundation, it’s time to set the stage with marketing strategy.
Quick note, your marketing strategy is the plan for marketing your business.
Here at WCO, we like to dig into three different components when creating the plan: your customer journey, the content and the execution.
Your customer journey is four stages that a person will go through when engaging with your business – awareness, buy-in, purchase and retention. Read more about four stages here.
The content is what you’re saying when you market. Whether it’s blogging, podcasting or posting on social media, content is what you share when getting visible.
And execution is where your marketing will be shared – the various places that you will be showing up. Think website, social, email, events, podcasts, etc. Although we’re biased, we always recommend a website, an email list and then, one social channel. If you have a team, feel free to branch out more, but remember, you do not need to be everywhere to gain traction.
Branding and marketing together
With your baseline set for branding and marketing, it’s time to implement and develop. This is when branding and marketing work in tandem. I like to think of this part as an experimental cycle, filled with ongoing testing and analyzing.
The idea is that you reference your internal and external brand, and your marketing strategy, to further develop your branding and marketing. This can be anything from your website design and development to posting on social media to creating a new email marketing campaign. Whatever the development activity you engage in, the intent is to align with the brand foundation and marketing strategy so that you effectively connect with your right audience.
And then, gather feedback. Your marketing strategy is where you define success or metrics that matter. Then in the development stage, you measure said metrics.
Because this is more of a cycle, once you test for a certain amount of time and track the data, you’ll start to see what’s working and what’s not. Based on the results, you can refer the foundation and answer questions like, ‘Is your brand still relevant and up-to-date?’ or ‘Does your marketing strategy still make sense for your current season of business?’
Because, spoiler alert, what works and is aligned today most likely won’t work one, two or ten years from now. Which is why it’s important to set up a solid baseline so that you have a strong starting point for your branding and marketing efforts.
Last friendly reminder: It doesn’t have to be too complicated or intense. The point is to have a system in place that allows you to effectively get visible and reach that version of success with more ease.
With that, happy branding (and marketing) 🙂
All my best,
Additional brand resources
This post walks you through determining your ideal customers including how to attract them.
Here we share 7 actionable ideas to build your brand’s authority that can be started today.
Learn what you need in place to maintain a cohesive brand experience.
We dive into the steps to develop an engaging and effective brand personality you can use to resonate with your right audience.
7 brand awareness strategies that really allow your brand’s purpose and message to connect you with the right people.
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