Anyone who’s worked in the digital ad space knows how frequently the terms “branding” and “marketing” are thrown around – and sometimes even conflated with each other. The truth of the matter is, although branding and marketing are very different pursuits, they’re essentially two sides of the same coin. You can’t have one without the other.
In this post, we aim to demystify the difference between branding and marketing and offer some tips that you can apply to your next digital ad campaign.
What’s in a Brand?
If branding seems like a vague concept, that’s because it has such a broad scope. Your brand is the way people feel about your company, the emotional connection they have with your products and even the culture of your business itself. In other words, your brand is your image, reputation and emotional impact all rolled into one.
To help make this concept a bit more concrete, you can frame your brand in terms of the following four questions:
- Who are you (the company)?
- What type of person will your customers become (in their mind’s eye) when they associate with your brand?
- What are the principles/ideologies of your business?
- What problems do you solve for your customers, and how do you make their lives better?
Crafting a strong, enduring brand image takes a lot of time, energy and patience. If your company or product is still trying to find your place as a brand while you actively carry out ad campaigns, it might be advisable to hold an internal brainstorm on your core value propositions and set down a clear brand image moving forward. Otherwise, your ad dollars won’t be as effective in how they resonate with your target audience and stick in their minds. We recommend checking out a guide to help walk you through the brand creation process.
Only after you’ve figured out where you stand in terms of branding, can you start to tackle your marketing strategy.
Marketing: Getting Your Brand Message out There
If branding is all about how your customers perceive your product, then marketing is the act of communicating your brand to the world. Marketing is all about making your brand relevant to your target audience with the ultimate goal of driving sales.
If you work in digital advertising – and odds are good that you do if you’re reading this post – then you interact on behalf of your company’s brand, and perhaps multiple brands from different companies, on a regular basis. Your role might be focused more squarely on optimizing your ad campaign ROI than on tweaking and fine-tuning your company’s marketing message. But one thing is for sure: after looking at ad creatives for days, weeks, months (and perhaps years) on end, you’ve definitely gained an appreciation for what makes an ad good versus disappointing. For an ad to be effective, marketing and branding need to be working in lock step with each other.
To tie it all together: a solid marketing campaign leverages a well-developed brand to drive home a consistent advertising message to your customers and boost sales. Here are some of the essential factors that all great marketing campaigns share:
- Consistent: Even though a company may have numerous marketing campaigns for their various products, their overlying brand messaging should remain clear and consistent throughout. In other words, you should be able to see the company’s core values shine through in each ad.
- Imaginative & inspirational: The best marketing campaigns out there are those that stick in your head long after you’ve seen the ad. That doesn’t mean you need to be controversial – you just need to be singularly focused on the message you want to deliver, and do so in a unique, entertaining and memorable way.
- Informative: A good marketing campaign should leave customers with an awareness of what your product is, its features/utility and how it can benefit them. Some marketers focus a bit too much on creating an imaginative campaign and forget that clear communication is key to brand recognition.
Bringing it all Together
We hope you find this primer on branding versus marketing helpful. Whether you’re a marketer, an advertiser or a branding professional, understanding the guiding principles that go into a company’s image is valuable. If you take away just one thing from this article, remember this: branding and marketing rely on each other; they simply cannot exist in a vacuum.