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The Difference Between Branding and Marketing—and How to Succeed at Both

Learn what makes branding and marketing distinct—and how to do each effectively.

Branding Marketing

The terms “branding” and “marketing”—and all the activities that go with each—tend to get lumped together into one big to-do list, making it difficult for marketing teams to prioritize the two distinct strategies effectively, much less execute them successfully. So, what’s the difference between branding and marketing?

In simple terms, branding is who you are as a company and marketing is how you tell people.

Let’s expand on that idea a little bit. If you’re looking at branding as an opportunity to define who or what a company really is, you’re looking at the big-picture and the long-term—the why behind the business, and the identity or characteristics that illustrate value and inspire loyalty. In tactical terms, it’s the little things like your logo, your brand colors and fonts, and your style guide, as well as the big things like your value proposition, positioning, and core messaging.

Marketing, on the other hand, is how your company demonstrates all these facets of its identity. This is about the tactics and strategies for connecting with potential audiences, showing them what your company is about, and extracting the value that all your branding efforts have established. This is the outreach you do by mail, email, and social media to connect customers to your brand as part of your multichannel marketing strategy. It’s the materials and messaging that sales reps provide to potential buyers, and it’s the in-store experience.

If, to summarize, branding is the “what” and “why,” and marketing is the “how” and “where,” then what do marketers need to keep in mind in order to do both successfully?

Branding vs Marketing

Branding Execution

Whether you’re starting from scratch or revamping an existing brand, we recommend starting with these two questions:

What Kind of Messaging Will Resonate with Your Audience?

The logos and taglines may be the most exciting part of branding, but as Hanover Research notes, a successful brand is about much more. Branding “requires careful examination of positioning, messaging, and value proposition statements for all core audiences and an understanding of how that translates at every level of the company, from customer service to advertising campaigns.”

Customers and potential customers must be at the heart of any rebranding efforts, with their needs, values, and communication preferences driving the strategy. After all, the flashiest graphics and most expensive business cards are worthless if they’re not conveying the right message to the right people.

How Will You Maintain Brand Integrity?

For effective branding, integrity is key. Even the most strategically designed brand falls apart if it’s not rolled out and maintained with near-perfect consistency. When the logo changes color from one platform to the next, the brand voice changes from brochure to brochure, or the positioning seems just a little too flexible, your value proposition is no longer clear, and your brand has lost both its familiarity and the confidence of potential buyers.

So, as you start to conceptualize the brand, be sure to consider how your organization will enable every team member to uphold its integrity as they interact with existing and potential customers. Our suggestion: empower brand reps with a single source truth through a digital asset management platform that gives them easy access to messaging, brand guidelines, and trusted production partners. This way, anytime they’re putting together a localized marketing campaign, they have everything they need to represent the company’s carefully curated brand, right at their fingertips.

Use One Trusted Production Partner & Ensure Brand Consistency –

To ensure printed materials accurately represent your brand’s quality and standards, it’s important to partner with trusted production vendors who can manage production, distribution, quality assurance, and compliance with strict regulations. Many companies turn to third-party print procurement brokers in an effort to streamline processes and minimize costs, but more often than not, this option is too good to be true.

The better alternative is to identify a single-source partner who can cut out the middle-man and centralize print execution, managing print projects from a single platform and ensuring lower costs without compromising quality by producing materials on their own equipment rather than outsourcing to the lowest bidder. By giving every brand representative easy access to this trusted partner, marketing leaders can ensure all printed assets—from postcards and brochures to in-store signage to swag—are elevating marketing campaigns by ensuring brand consistency (and compliance) without breaking the bank.

Marketing Execution

Marketing—the act of bringing the brand to life in order to realize its value—requires attention to every platform. After all, consumers are looking for brands whose communication—online, in their mailboxes, and in stores—provides consistent messaging, up-to-date information and personalized value.

For businesses with limited resources and busy marketing teams (and particularly for retailers, franchises, and other businesses with storefronts across the region or country) creating multichannel marketing strategies to ensure the brand is everywhere at once can seem like a daunting prospect. We walk through four keys to successful multichannel marketing in depth in this recent blog post, but to get you started, keep these three tips in mind:

Make Every Rep a Marketer

From your franchise owners to your retail managers to your regional sales reps, everyone involved in selling your brand must have the resources and skills required to create and implement local marketing campaigns. But, of course, marketing isn’t everyone’s skillset, nor can we realistically expect it to be. Which brings us back to that digital asset manager we mentioned before. When everyone involved in marketing has everything they need—from modular content to approval workflows to asset ordering—at their fingertips, then everyone’s a marketer, freeing the corporate marketing team to focus on big-picture strategy while resting assured local marketing is running like a well-oiled machine.

Integrate Digital and Physical Outreach

We already know both print and online marketing are critical to a successful campaign, but be sure to think strategically about how one platform can support the others. For example, email outreach may prime customers to keep an eye out for the physical catalog that’s about to hit their mailboxes, a social media awareness campaign can build the familiarity new customers need to respond to a sale flyer they see in their inbox, and social media ads can be powerful A/B testing tools for the designs on those seasonal postcards you mail out every fall. It’s not just about using every channel; it’s about making every channel work together to build that customer relationship and work toward purchase.

Whether you’re just starting to build your brand or you’re looking to take your marketing campaigns to the next level, the right management partner can make a powerful difference in streamlining your efforts and setting you up for success. At OneTouchPoint, we pride ourselves on being that partner for our clients, with our U.Connect platform serving as the foundational digital asset manager and our end-to-end production and distribution services enabling flawless execution from start to finish.

Learn more about how we work with our clients to create powerful brands—and showcase those brands through impactful multichannel marketing campaigns. Then, when you’re ready, we invite you to contact us or request a quote on your next project. Our experts will provide insight and ideas to deliver phenomenal results at a great price.

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