What’s the difference between Branding and Marketing?

I often start my workshops or client work by offering definitions to clear up the difference between branding and marketing.

Simply put, Branding is WHO you are. Marketing is WHAT you do.

Here is the long-form (and rambling!) definition I use when it comes to branding. The points you need to consider are:
•    Branding a product or service differentiates you from your competitors.
•    It’s the key to turning prospective consumers into loyal customers.
•    A brand is more than what your product does or what you communicate. Your brand identity is the total perception of your brand in the marketplace, including an implied promise to your customers that your product or service will consistently meet their expectations every time they interact with your brand.
•    Brands evoke emotions, delight us, and feel familiar and reliable.

You need to know who you are before you do anything.

Too many businesses sell the same widget

Now, that said, in a marketplace that can be saturated with like businesses, having a strong and unique brand is even more critical.

Quick note: Try not to get caught up in the word “brand” as meaning logo or visual identity-Sure, it’s a part of that, but without a well-defined brand identity (think business story or identity) and brand strategy, a logo has no meaning. We need an idea or concept to anchor to when we see that visual mark on a website or billboard. We, as human beings, have to have meaning.

Back to the leading question of this post- Do you really need a Brand?

Yes. Yes. Absolutely yes. (I’m especially looking at you, Mr. and Ms. Small Business Owner!)

Smaller businesses can have an advantage

In small business, it’s important to stand out, to offer more, to really engage your prospects and customers. In small business, you have the opportunity to be more personable, have more personality, and really shine amongst your competitors in a way that bigger businesses often miss because they are, most definitely, bigger. Part of this is because of budget- not all small businesses have the capital to launch a large-scale branding or marketing project. Plus, as a business gets bigger, it takes more investment, more forethought and more staff power to really create- and stand by– a brand.

As a small business, you can offer a personal touch in your branding that will really set you apart from your competitors. You can pay attention in ways that others can’t. Your brand, in other words, can really benefit from what you bring to the table as a business owner- and human being.

It doesn’t have to take a ton of time to create and live your brand. It does take thought, planning and some creativity. Once you have that brand solidified, it’s time to get it out in the world and do some marketing.

Food for thought

I’ll leave you with this, dear reader, what makes your brand stand out and why should prospective customers buy from you and not your competition?

Next week, we’ll look at the wacky world of brand perception. Stay tuned!