There’s no doubt that a gray area exists when discussing branding and marketing. And although the two are obviously connected, they are very different things. They are both independent components that fuel one another, and in order to get the most out of each and to execute them correctly within your marketing plan, you must understand the differences between them.

What is Branding?

To put it simply, branding is who you are, it’s your reason for existing as a company. Branding composes your unique value proposition or promise to your customers and exposes the culture of your organization. Branding is utilized to help create a lasting impression on your customers, and it helps consumers distinguish your products and services from that of your competitors.

Your brand will determine whether or not customers will remain loyal or seek out other companies to do business with. Branding is a long-term commitment that will help to create value and build loyalty both internally and externally for your business.

When determining a brand strategy, small business owners should ask themselves the following questions:

  • What are my core values?
  • What is the business’s mission statement?
  • What sets you apart from the competition and makes you unique?
  • What value are you providing to your customers through your products and services?
  • What do you want people to associate with your company’s name?
  • What is the ideal way a customer would describe your business?

Once you’ve clearly defined who you are as a company, you can then utilize your branding to drive your marketing efforts.

What is Marketing?

Marketing is your message to your customers and how you choose to deliver it. It’s how you utilize market research and analysis to get customers interested in your products and services. Your marketing strategy should constantly evolve as these components change.

Here are a few of the different channels you can use to market your business:

  • Search engine optimization (SEO)
  • Content marketing
  • Social media
  • PPC advertising
  • Mobile advertising
  • Print campaigns

Marketing, both online and offline, is vital to all stages of the buyer’s journey. E Jerome McCarthy’s ‘4 Ps of Marketing’ concept is a great explanation of how marketing is utilized within each stage.

Product – In order to sell something, you need to understand the demand for it, and who you plan to sell it to. Ask yourself, what is my target audience? What variations of messaging will increase the sale of this product and which marketing channels should I promote them through?

Price – Looks to your competitors to gain a better understanding of what customers within your market are willing to pay for a similar product. Pricing too high or too low can have significant impacts on your business, so it’s important to research and analyze before determining a price range.

Place – Once you’ve figured out what you’re selling, you need to determine how and where to sell it. Analyze the consumers within your market to figure out what makes the most sense.

Promotion – Any online or offline strategy that encourages awareness of your product or service is considered a promotion. Things like campaigns, mobile advertising and social media are all considered promotions.

Marketing and branding are connected, as you cannot have one without the other. It’s important to understand the differences and correlations between them in order to create the most effective, impactful strategies possible.