MindFire Communications, Inc.
Branding comes before marketing
December 29, 2015 | Lynn Manternach, Ph.D.

Building a brand

Sometimes it’s difficult to tell the difference between branding and marketing. The terms are increasingly used interchangeably, which only adds to the confusion. Both are important, but for different reasons. So what is the difference between branding and marketing?

Branding is why. Marketing is how.

Branding is long-term. Marketing is short-term.

Branding is big-picture. Marketing is focused and single-minded.

Branding is strategic. Marketing is tactical.

Branding begins inside your organization. Marketing begins with the consumer.

The most successful companies – regardless of size – focus on both branding and marketing. The combination is powerful. And the order in which you approach branding and marketing matters.

Branding comes first. Marketing comes second.

It’s tempting to jump right into marketing. After all, your ultimate goal is sales, and marketing is the strategy used to optimize for sales. But if your strategy is based only on the quality of your product and service, you are at a serious disadvantage. Competitors can offer the same or perhaps a superior product and service. If you have not taken the time to develop your brand, you will be forced to compete on price. That is rarely a viable long-term strategy.

Building awareness is important. Consumers need to understand how your product or service solves their problems. You need to figure out how to connect with your consumer, and the sooner you can figure that out, the sooner the cash flows. But at some point, the consumer will look past the hype to see if the brand truly matters to them.

Marketing is your message. Your brand is who you are.

Your brand lives in the hearts and minds of your customers and your prospects. It’s what they think when they hear or see your name. Your brand is based on a wide range of experiences and perceptions, some of which you can control and some of which you can’t control.

The ways consumers interact with and assess products and services has changed dramatically over the past few years. Consumers are increasingly tuning out marketing and advertising and are digging deeper to better understand the brand behind the product or service.

If you invest time and effort into understanding your brand, the ways it connects with consumers on an emotional level and how to effectively communicate it across the customer experience, you are much more likely to see a return on your marketing strategies. The more emotion consumers have invested in your brand, the more likely they are to buy from you.

According to Havas Media, most people would not care if 74 percent of brands ceased to exist. Brands that engage with consumers, showing their personality and sharing their values, are among the 26 percent that would be missed.

Marketing helps find and motivate buyers. Branding creates loyal customers and advocates.

Your brand is your promise to consumers. It’s about the experience they can expect when they interact with your brand. Your brand allows consumers to anticipate future behavior because it is built on consistent behavior. In fact, the more consistent the behavior has been in the past, the more quickly the brand can convince consumers they “understand” what your brand is all about.

So what’s the difference between branding and marketing? Marketing is what you do to attract people to your brand with your message or brand promise, while your brand is how you keep that promise with the brand experience. Both are critically important to your success.

This article originally appeared in the Corridor Business Journal

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