You are not alone if you can't clearly define the differences between branding and marketing. Many people can't, including Fortune 500 CEO's. But whether you are a start-up or just trying to grow - I guarantee knowing the difference will help you be successful. You won't find all the answers here, but my quick primer may be a good start:
Branding: A Promise
A brand is a "promise" that a company or product delivers.
For the Customer: It's getting what they expect.
For the Company: It's a promise to customers and colleagues in everything you do.
To be successful, you must deliver on that promise consistently. The idea that a brand is a logo, a name or a color is where business failures begin. It's about meeting expectations in what you deliver, and how you deliver it.
Think of the most recent PR gaffs by airlines or clothing companies. Were they meeting your expectations for their brand? Probably not if you remember the issue. Those brand failures were not due to an ugly logo. When we love a brand we feel connected, and think we "know" the company. We develop brand expectations for service, quality and delivery. In short, we trust the company. In this way, customers should be considered a large part of defining a brand.
So really your brand is "everything" within your company. It is imperative to define what your company stands for if you want a successful brand - even if that brand is YOU. You have to identify your target audience and what they want, define and communicate why you are better than your competitors, and know your brand's purpose. Your brand in turn will direct how you solve problems, how you package products and what products you sell.
Some businesses know WHAT they are from day one, and as long as they stay small and keep the same employees, then they may not need to repeat this exercise. However, for most businesses, things change - sales drop, people leave, or a competitor threatens your sales. Then what do you do? If you define what your brand stands for now, then it becomes easier to make decisions later - who you should hire, what products should you sell, how your communications should sound, and even what your office environment should look like.
The key to unlocking the power of your brand is involving your employees and customers. How do they describe your brand? What are their expectations? Are you delivering on your promises?
Marketing: A Process
Marketing is defined by the Chartered Institute of Marketing as "The management process responsible for identifying, anticipating and satisfying customer requirements profitably".
Marketing, then, is an integral part of your brand. It helps you to communicate the promise that you want customers and prospects to know about. Your marketing should also be based on your brand positioning, personality, values and tone of voice that have all been defined and communicated among your staff.
In essence, marketing is what you do to get your message or promise to customers, while your brand is how you keep the promise made through delivery to customers and colleagues. And marketing requires answers such as:
Need more help to define your brand, or create a successful marketing campaign. We can help. Ask us how.
Julene Hunter makes good design accessible and affordable. She co-founded two software companies, and has been practicing digital and creative arts in all its forms for over 30 years. She founded GoodInk in 2007.