Marketing vs. Branding

Good marketing and branding strategies help you attract and keep customers. People often use the terms interchangeably, but marketing and branding are different. Read on to discover how these two concepts relate and complement each other.

What is marketing?

The broad definition of marketing is the collective activities that connect a business to its customers. It’s an action-oriented process that only succeeds when the intended audience gets the message and converts. In other words, marketing is creating a desire in someone to do something crucial to sustain and grow a business. 

By its nature, marketing is more sales-leaning than branding.

Types of marketing

Marketing takes two primary forms — traditional and digital. Traditional marketing channels are offline efforts, while digital marketing takes advantage of today’s technology to deliver messages electronically.

Generally speaking, marketing has two arenas — business-to-business (B2B) and business-to-customer (B2C). Marketing activities differ slightly between the two, so let’s look at the fundamentals of each.

Examples of marketing activities

Marketing activities are essential to business success because they generate leads, create brand awareness, and drive growth. Conventional marketing activities are common in both sectors. These channels include:

  • Television
  • Radio
  • Print media, like newspapers, magazines, and brochures
  • Billboards
  • Direct selling, such as telemarketing and in-person sales calls

Trade shows and many experiential marketing techniques also fall within this category.

Digital marketing strategies include:

  • Pay-per-click advertising (PPC)
  • Email marketing
  • Social media, including sponsored ads, organic posts, and interacting with consumers for engagement
  • Content marketing

Online promotion is also a natural companion to experiential marketing.

In B2C scenarios, a business will typically use all of these methods or a combination of them to attract and retain customers. Those in B2B networks must specialize a bit more. These businesses tend to rely more on LinkedIn for social media marketing and more in-depth content like whitepapers.

What is branding?

In its simplest terms, branding is how your business portrays itself to its clients and potential customers. Think of it as your style — how you showcase your unique personality. 

Its primary difference from marketing is its goal — creating a positive association between the customer and the brand. Experienced branders do this by shaping the perceptions of their target audience.

Types of branding

The two most common types of branding are corporate and personal.

Corporate Branding

This kind of branding is the way businesses show the world their values, ideal customer, mission, and luxury. They convey this information through their actions and the specific choices they make. 

For example, the clothing company Patagonia features outdoor imagery and active people in its marketing materials. Brand values include a commitment to caring for the environment and each other. The company conveys this branding on the Patagonia website through its transparency, charity, and clothing recycling program.

Approaches to corporate branding will differ based on the industry and other factors. Brick-and-mortar retailers have a storefront to brand, while e-commerce companies pour their personalities into their digital designs. Businesses in service industries may rely more on creating an outstanding customer experience since they have no physical product.

Personal Branding

People like artists and celebrities build their perceptions by cultivating a personal brand

Lady Gaga is a good example, portraying herself as offbeat and a bit of an outcast. That image resonates with her fan base, and her creative branding has helped to take her from hardly known to a household name.

When corporate branding and personal branding meet

Some celebrities go on to launch their own product lines, extending their brand to physical goods. Others partner with companies in an approach professionals call influencer marketing. Under this strategy, a business relies on the strength of its products or services as well as the influencer’s name recognition.

The best results arise from an alignment between the two parties in terms of values and audiences. For example, an organic food company could team up with a well-known organic food blogger.

Examples of branding activities

Branding activities are essential for businesses to develop and maintain long-term customer relationships. They cover the entire spectrum, from choosing fonts for web design to developing an organizational style guide.

In your branding efforts from day to day, you’ll need to make a series of stylistic choices. Some marketers draw on the psychology of color to design logos, evoking specific emotions and associations they want to connect to their brand. These colors feature prominently in their physical and digital spaces.

Another typical branding activity is selecting tone and voice. For example, consider Wendy’s. The brand’s Twitter account regularly posts sarcastic replies. The chain’s well-known roasts and snappy comebacks earn plenty of engagement and set the brand apart from its competitors.

You can also see branding activities at work online on social media, from the posts a brand creates to how brands manage feedback and provide customer service. A knowledgeable marketer will ensure the messaging aligns with the brand’s tone and voice to provide a consistent customer experience that builds trust.

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