You’ve probably heard the phrases “branding” and “marketing” used interchangeably, but knowing the difference between the two can improve your business and increase sales. While both aspects of business involve promotion and how you present your company to the public, they each play separate roles and can’t thrive without the other. In her session “Branding vs Marketing: Are you Ready to Change?” during The Special Event 2022, luxury wedding planner Jackie Watson (Jaclyn Watson Events) dove into the two and explained how to use each business component to your advantage.
Business author Seth Godin defines a brand as “the set of expectations, memories, stories, and relationships that, taken together, account for a consumer’s decision to choose one product or service over another.” He defines marketing as “no longer about the stuff that you make, but about the stories you tell.” These definitions seem similar, but here’s the key difference: branding is the face of the company—the colors, narratives, and values associated with the business—while marketing, on the other hand, is the action of promoting and selling the product or service itself. Branding promotes the company, marketing promotes what is sold. Both are needed to properly reach potential customers.
Determining your brand means figuring out who your company is. “It’s your mission, your values, and what makes you special and unique,” says Watson. Key brand elements are manifested as “your logo, your website, your brand colors, your collateral that is handed out.” Watson suggests writing down the first ten things that come to mind about what makes you different. To persuade clients to work with you, show them you are different for x, y, and z reasons.
Marketing is the strategy you use to build awareness around your brand. It’s “the actions you take to connect with your customers and then you get them to buy your products or services,” Watson says. She advises looking at your competitors and seeing what they are doing to reach customers, and then doing what they aren’t doing so you can stand out.
How to Improve Your Brand
Since your brand is the essence of your company, get clear on who you are as a business and what you represent. Figure out the story that can connect you to clients. As Watson says, “A story is the most powerful brand you will ever ever have.” Know how you stand out and create a distinct look for your content, so that when potential clients see your work they recognize it immediately.
Check the accuracy of your brand regularly. Brands should be updated yearly, says Watson; your business is constantly growing and changing, so your brand should too. Logos and social media are vital parts of your brand, and both need to be refreshed to stay relevant to your company. She also recommends being active on your personal social media as well—today’s clients are looking to make sure the person behind the company upholds values that align with their own.
How to Improve Your Marketing
Marketing strategies are a never-ending process. You should always be marketing your products and services so that clients can find your business at any given time. To keep engagement up and SEO at its best, constantly update your website and social media. Make sure to put equal effort into both your website and social media to show consistency.
Marketing is most effective when it targets the correct audience. Invest time and resources into learning who already is your audience demographic and who you want your audience to be. Then, create marketing strategies that are geared specifically toward this demographic. Watson suggests asking questions like “What budget does this audience have?” “What makes them like me?” and “What is the first thing they do when they get up in the morning?” Asking super specific questions will help you understand precisely who your target audience is and give you the insight you need to direct the promotion of your company and service toward them.
Finally, always have a marketing budget. “It doesn’t matter if your marketing budget is $500 of $5000,” Watson advises. Throwing money at specific opportunities here and there is less effective than strategic consistent marketing.
Balance is Key
Staying on top of branding and marketing is a never-ending task, and it can be overwhelming. Start with simple steps that are manageable—or hire someone who can oversee this work for you. The investment is well worth it.
“Without a strong brand, marketing can easily fail,” says Watson, “and without good marketing, clients won’t care about the brand.” Branding and marketing are dependent on one another. By paying attention to each of these business aspects, and giving equal effort to both, your business will be at the top of clients’ minds—and it will stay there.
Questions to Ask Yourself
Watson suggests answering these questions to figure out your best branding and marketing techniques.
- How do you want your customer to feel when they interact with your company?
- What do you want them to walk away with?
- What is your organization's mission? Values? Ethics?
- How do you describe your business's personality?
- How are you different than your competitors both verbally & visually?
- Who are you selling to? Do you know who your ideal client is?
- Who is most likely to buy your offering? Who is most likely to pay a higher price?
- How are you different from competitors?
- What do your customers care about?
If you want to learn from more industry professionals and sit in on sessions like this, register for The Special Event 2023, which will be taking place in Orlando, FL this coming March.