It’s surprising how often, even within the industry, these two terms can be confused and misunderstood. At times the two can appear to blend into one. At other times, they couldn’t be more different.
Yes, branding and marketing do co-exist, but no, they are not the same.
Brands are like people, and customers are demanding that the brands that serve them understand their needs. If brand is the DNA, then branding is the expression of this. The way we walk and talk, the desire to connect and how to. Marketing is the function of delivering this to market. Sometimes referred to as the ‘push’ function, marketing is the action, the tactical move to make the brand understood.
Still with me?
Good. Now let’s talk about the connection between the consumer and your brand and how it has shifted to how your brand is experienced. Once upon a time, marketers poured their budgets into telling consumers who or what their brand was and what to think about them, and hoped the consumer believed them.
But agencies have had to move with the times to create the experience that modern consumers demand from brands. We also recognise that every brand needs to be consciously activated based on its unique DNA.
A brand must have a set of values and attributes that are distinguishable.
We human beings happily go about life without knowing our DNA, our genetic codes and sequencing and all about our gene pool and cells. But what if we did know everything about ourselves? What if we knew everything that made us unique? Made us vulnerable, more likeable? And how to maximise everything from our health, our competitiveness, our lifespan. Then take all our strengths and weaknesses and make decisions based on the essence of us.
What potential could be unlocked?
By creating a brand and building some unique DNA into it, you make your brand sustainable, allowing it to be memorable, create relationships, have longevity and be future proofed. Your brand needs to be authentic and it needs to be unique.
This is not the function of marketing. It is the function of branding.
Sure, clients can often obtain some results when marketing their products with limited brand knowledge. And yes, they can develop their product, design a logo, run an ad, create a sales strategy, consider pricing, logistics and probably even achieve some sales.
But success will be limited and short lived.
Brands should be enduring, built to stand the test of time and the various competition that will ultimately arrive and knock on your customers’ doors. Powerful brands can ride the dynamics of the market to deliver results and achieve growth.
The difference between marketing and branding becomes even clearer here. As does their co-dependency. If we understand our brand, and our branding is well defined, it is nothing without the tactics to deliver the message – the marketing. For any product to go to market, some element of branding must exist, even on a limited level.
People now expect brands to behave like humans. That’s why at Rare, we put humans at the heart of everything we do.
To develop a compelling brand, we investigate and define what’s real, meaningful and distinctive about it. This provides us with the understanding of the real value you provide for people; how and why this value is meaningful to people; and how you set yourself apart from your competitors.
A brand is not just a pretty logo and catchy tagline. A brand is an idea that represents both what you are authentically great at and how it is meaningful to your target audience. This idea forms your brand story and starts a meaningful conversation with your target.
To build a connection with your audience your brand must be at the core of everything you do. To create a truly memorable customer experience, the brand must be communicated across all touch points, via the marketing. A good marketing strategy doesn’t exist if it doesn’t consider all aspects of the brand. As Socrates put it: “To know thyself is the beginning of wisdom”.
When a company truly knows and understand its brand, then the marketing – the action of making your brand known to others – has its chance for great success.
At Rare, we seek to understand and practice connection at every level. We put humans first. We’re a full-service agency that knows branding and knows marketing.
More importantly, we know the difference between the two.