When it comes to advertising, branding, design and marketing, there is a plethora of terms and concepts that people group together, and many times misguidedly use them interchangeably.
To start with, the previous mentioned disciplines - while related - are very much disciplines within themselves. Then there is the terminology. People confuse brand with logo, logo with brand assets, marketing with sales, etc.
One of the most common misconceptions I encounter when meeting new clients is that they think marketing and branding are the same; this couldn’t be further from the truth.
Branding is the expression of the essence of an organisation, service or product. It defines what a brand is and what it is not; a brand is permanent and tells your target audience the raison d'être of your product or service. It defines characteristics, enlists values and describes attributes.
Marketing, on the other hand, is not about defining a product or service, but about promoting it through the right channels to the right audience at the perfect time.
Branding is about strategy and marketing is about tactics. When a marketing campaign is over (and all marketing campaigns have a shelf life) a brand is what is left behind. It is the brand that will convert customers into advocates and make sure that they become customers for life. The multiple components and experiences of a brand will remain in a customer’s mind and rarely will it be the marketing effort that brought them to the brand in the first place.
Not that marketing is any less important; every brand’s purpose is to sell, regardless of its nature. Without marketing, sales would be impossible. Every marketing activity will support and enhance a brand, it will be its life-line. A little caveat here though: done wrongly, marketing can also be a huge cost centre and destroy any product.
While most organisations and business owners are aware of the need for branding and marketing, there is always the concern of the cost attached to them. Both are erroneously perceived as cost centres, but again, reality is a bit more complex.
When executed amateurishly or in the wrong order, both branding and marketing can certainly become a money pit. Branding should always be in place prior to starting a marketing effort. You need to be able to define who you are, what you do and what you are offering, before you can start trying to sell your brand. Having all these items well established will not only project a solid offering but will convince you and your team that what you have to offer is worth offering.
Having a strong brand will in turn allow for any marketing effort to be constructed with solid foundations. A well executed marketing push will pay for itself and will help you build an even stronger brand by taking advantage of all your brand assets to lead a customer to interact with your product and make the experience memorable.
So while branding and marketing are certainly symbiotic, they are far from being the same. One will guide the horse to the water and the other will make it drink.