You’d be surprised how often the two terms are used synonymously! So, if you need a quick refresh, here you go.
Have you ever been to a party or out for drinks with some professionals and heard one of them say “yeah, our company’s going through a rebranding?” What does this actually mean? Is it safe to assume you’ll be seeing all sorts of new creative TV spots, billboards, digital ads, bus kings, elevator posters, online radio spots, transit ads, minute videos, street art, some grassroots or guerilla tactics, news stories and on-site promotions to name a few? The answer is probably; but only if the branding (or in this case the rebranding) has a marketing rollout.
The “branding” aspect of the above company rebrand has more to do with discovering and developing what it is about your brand that is attractive to the desired customer segment, and what value it will bring to them. It’s establishing a firm understanding of the true characteristics, values and singular attributes that clarify and differentiate your brand from its competitors. After all the research and introspection is accomplished, the development of a new brand identity can begin to take shape (a name, a look, a feel and an overarching message) that will ultimately portray these characteristics in a positive way that will resonate with your defined target audience.
If branding was akin to dating and you had a very good understanding of who your brand is, what your core values are, and who to best target for a long relationship, your branding would start at the affection phase. The affection phase is that period of time when a lot is learned about the object of your desire (target audience) and what you need to do to get noticed and ultimately win them over.
Let’s face it, your brand may not be like a Brad Pitt or Scarlett Johansson on the dating scene. So, when you’ve learned everything there is to learn about your primary and secondary target audiences, and you finally put yourself out there, you may have to test a few things in the process. You’ll need to try a few new looks perhaps (brand identity), work on your game (messaging), and figure out what makes you different, special and totally attractive (unique selling proposition) to this particular group.
Once you clearly see the best way to win your target audiences’ hearts and minds, it’s time to put the word out there in hopes of building your dating pool (market share). This, my friend, is where “marketing” comes into play. Marketing is utilizing the important branding information you’ve learned about your brand and your target audience to develop tactical activities to mesh with like-minded consumers, encourage trial, inspire consumer loyalty and support ongoing sales success. Marketing is getting the word out there!
If you believe your brand is the perfect fit for your target audience, let them know—constantly! Just like the dating scenario, interest in your brand can be short-lived, because, well, people are busy, fickle and the competition is relentlessly, brazenly and unapologetically coming on to your desirable customer. It’s up to you, and your brand evangelists to use every marketing technique in the book to stay on their mind night and day!
So, in simplistic business terms, “branding” is creating potential relationships by identifying who your brand is, as well as who would benefit most by utilizing your brand’s core values and offerings. “Marketing” is creating the need for your brand by taking all of this information and connecting your brand with the target audience(s) who are most likely to value and use your brand.
The strongest and most successful marketing programs unite branding and marketing. You have a better chance of winning the hearts and minds of your market if you truly know what your brand stands for. Then, it’s all about making them fall in love—and stay in love with you!