Marketing vs Branding: Two Sides of A Coin

Ask marketers what the favorite drink of their profession is, and you’d most likely hear, Brandy!

There’s been a lot of misunderstanding between professionals on the value of marketing and branding. And in the words of Confucius, “The beginning of wisdom is to call things by their proper names”.

That said, the Confusion–not to be misplaced with Confucius–between marketing and branding isn’t as deep as it appears. And even though marketing and branding can be considered as two sides of a coin, the biggest bone of contention remains the question: “Which of them is more important to a business’s survival: Marketing? Or branding? Sales? Or Identity?

Setting The Stage

Now before you answer the question above, you need to understand:

What Marketing Is

Marketing is the set of tools, processes, actions, and principles, used to actively promote the sales of your product and services to consumers.

Marketing stands at the heart of your business’s existence because it’s the major source of generating the finance needed to keep your business running.

Some main functions of marketing include:

  • Setting prices.
  • Managing distribution lines.
  • Lead Generation.
  • Controlling supply chains.
  • Maximizing production lines and operations.
  • Revenue generation, etc.

What Branding Is  

Branding involves the various activities aimed at actively shaping a business’s image and creating a solid impression in the minds of customers.

Most times, branding remains the message that governs a business’s process because it’s a promise made to customers. And for branding to be successful, these promises must be kept.

Consider FedEx’s 1978 Slogan: ‘When it absolutely, positively has to be there overnight’.

Without a doubt, this slogan was a promise that helped the company establish itself as one of the world’s largest and most reliable delivery services. FedEx’s success was a product of careful branding, something they still try to capture today with their recent slogan, ‘Your package will get there overnight. Guaranteed.’

With branding, you get to shape your business’s reputation and perception to customers. And your business must be branded perfectly otherwise it’d remain insignificant, or worse, fail.

Remember, in 2010, how Johnson & Johnson recalled over 100,000 bottles of medicine because of faulty manufacturing? Sure you do.

And even though the recall appeared to be a major disaster, the fact that J&J took an active step in correcting their mistake ensured that none of their customers suffered any injury, or lost their lives. And this helped cement J&J’s reputation as a brand that cares about customer safety. And this safety-consciousness contributed greatly to their success today.

Branding involves everything about your business, from production to marketing and even sales. Take your business’s branding as a foundation for building a lasting impression in the minds of your customers.

And believe it or not, every facet of your business is involved in building this impression because branding is all about integrity.

Features of Branding and Marketing

Some key elements of branding are:

  • Core principles and values.
  • Mission statements
  • Brand story
  • Target audience and how to meet their needs.
  • Internal business structures
  • Communication ethics and characteristics.
  • Professional style
  • What emotions do you intend to trigger in your customers?

Here are some key marketing elements:

  • SEO, Content, and Social Media Marketing.
  • Mobile, Television, Radio, and Print Campaigns.
  • Marketing Surveys.

How Branding Aids Marketing

“Branding is a promise delivered”.

—Robert Bean

It Sets The Pace For A Successful Marketing Campaign

Knowing which one should come first between marketing and branding isn’t as puzzling as the ‘chicken or the egg’ dilemma. Instead, try seeing it like the ‘Sun and the Moon’.

And just like the sun and the moon, branding must come first. Branding is strategic and long-term, while marketing, although it evolves with trends, is tactical and only based on current market realities.

Like we said earlier, branding is the fertile soil on which every other aspect of your business grows, so it should be improved daily with every transaction, production, or interaction with customers because having a strong brand makes it easier to achieve a succesful marketing campaign.

Why? Because your brand captures everything about your business. So the more appealing your brand is, the more likely customers are going to patronize it.

Branding Builds Devotion

One major distinction between Marketing and Branding is that while marketing finds and encourages new consumers to make a purchase, branding builds devoted customers, turning them into fans and patriots of your business.

Peter Getman was famous for saying; “Your brand isn’t your idea… but ultimately up to the consumer to define”. Although it sounds easy, it’s difficult to control how customers perceive your brand. So keep your eyes open and make every necessary improvement.

Excellent brands use clear messages and action to build super-loyal customers, and self-motivated employees, something every business needs.

Having a powerful brand is the major reason why Tesla Motors spends $0 on marketing but controls 78% of the total US EV market. Elon Musk’s name, also a brand, is enough to send customers into a buying-frenzy because lots of consumers associate him with the genius, world-saving Tony Stark.

Know This

Although it’s difficult to use the same marketing techniques for different businesses, with branding you get to present a long-term image to the world. Branding transcends industry.

So while marketing always changes with industry and time, branding rarely does. Everyone knows that Apple would always produce luxury phones, not cheap ones because it’s their identity.

What Brings them Together

Pictures are worth a thousand words. So make sure that all your marketing endeavours capture your unique brand. Your imagery should contain your branding elements and business values.

And when it comes to building a credible brand image that effectively defines your business, the best place to start would be to get a strong business name from naming experts. And yes, the perfect brand name isn’t always something an average Joe would stumble on. 

About the Author

Grant Polachek is the Head of Branding at Inc 500 company, the worlds #1 naming platform, with 25,000+ customers from early-stage startups across the globe to the largest corporations including Nestle, Philips, Hilton, Pepsi, and AutoNation. Get inspired by exploring these winning business name ideas.