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  • Writer's pictureHilary Young

How Branding and Marketing Go Hand-in-Hand

When I worked in the corporate world, branding and marketing were seen as two entirely separate entities. In fact, back in 2013, when we talked about branding it was almost exclusively always in regards to graphic design and the visual presentation of the brand. Although we’ve come a long way since then, it’s still an uphill battle with many of my larger clients to have them view branding and marketing as two pieces of the same puzzle.These two concepts have remained pretty siloed over the years.

In my work now, however, branding and marketing are used interchangeably. Brand strategy is the overarching concept that drives everything else, but you can’t push the brand forward without applying a marketing strategy. In this way, the two elements really go hand-in-hand when trying to grow your business.

Branding defines how to position your business in the marketplace: how to communicate and deliver your promise to potential customers, your core values, the tone of voice you use, as well as the visual aesthetics of your website and social media. Branding allows you to think more deeply about how you want your customers to perceive your company. Are you friendly? Are you professional? Does your company have a little bit of flare? Additionally, think about who your target audience really is. Break down their wants and needs and challenges and understand how your brand fits into that larger picture for them. How can your brand help them? How can you add value to their lives? And then how can you communicate with them in an authentic way to demonstrate that you “get” them?

Marketing on the other hand, is how you actually reach those customers. From paid advertising to organic strategies, email funnels to giveaways, marketing is the plan you put in place to get your message in front of them, and ultimately, convert more leads to sales. A good marketing strategy will take your brand into account and figure out how and where to reach your ideal customers where they are.

Branding and marketing strategies have so much overlap in a variety of ways. Here are 3 ways that the lines between the two continue to be blurred:

Branding and Marketing are Both People-Centric

While these two concepts ultimately serve different purposes, they both share the common ground of being people-centric. That’s because it’s essential to understand your audience whenever thinking about either branding or marketing efforts. Since branding sets the tone through messaging and values, you need to know who your audience is in order to communicate with them clearly and directly. It’s your brand messaging that will grab the attention of potential customers and draw them in to engage further. When you have little understanding of who your target audiences are–what their needs, wants, challenges, desires are–you can’t really craft messaging that resonates with anyone.

Similarly, with marketing, you also have to think deeply about your target audience segments in order to send them the right messages in the right places. After all, lead generation is all about making connections and providing potential customers with something of value in order to garner their attention. Whether through a downloadable lead magnet, asking them to join your mailing list, or entering into a giveaway or content, finding ways to add value to their lives requires that you understand what they would find valuable in the first place.

When you keep in mind that both branding and marketing are about the people you serve, you’ll start to create a deeper connection with your audience, building a community of fans that steadily increases instead of experiencing static growth.

Branding and Marketing Strategy is Interconnected

Despite the department that a strategy comes from, the creators of said strategy must all be working towards the same strategic goal. Oftentimes, the goal is simply growth and profitability, but a brand strategy should set the big picture goals for how to move forward, as your brand should always be leading the strategic decisions within the organization. And while brand strategy can serve as your guide, you can also tap into the groundwork of a brand strategy when crafting a marketing strategy. In fact, you should use your brand strategy as a North Star when working on a marketing strategy, since you don’t want to have the brand messaging convey one thing and your marketing campaigns to convey another.

This happens more frequently than you think and it leads to confusion with consumers, which certainly won’t convert them into paying customers. It’s the equivalent of the old saying “actions speak louder than words,” which encourages people to have their actions be in alignment with their words. So too, should brands have their values be in alignment with the types of marketing campaigns they are running.

Having your brand lead you in your marketing decisions, hiring decisions, and growth decisions is going to set you and your team up for success. Despite the department or channel-specific goals you might put in place to achieve smaller parts of the larger strategy, in the end all of it is working towards the same big picture results.

Brand Marketing Is Now A Defined Job

Brand marketing roles have exploded over the past few years. I have seen these relatively new positions popping up both in-house and at agencies across the country. For those of you who might not have any context for what a brand marketer even does, the term ‘brand marketing’ has been defined as “the process of establishing and growing a relationship between a brand and consumers. Rather than highlighting an individual product or service, brand marketing promotes the entirety of the brand, using the products and services as proof points that support the brand's promise.”

Trust is a major component for how to build any relationship, both in life and in business. Today’s consumers are inherently skeptical of corporate motivations, and for good reason; people have watched corporate greed seep into so many aspects of their lives, including the environment, politics, and social issues. Consumers want transparency. They want to not only understand a company’s values, but also feel aligned with what they’re communicating. And that’s exactly what a Brand Marketing role sets out to do: to bridge the gap between the brand and the consumer using a mixture of empathy, authenticity, and transparency.

Branding and marketing really do go hand-in-hand–it’s almost impossible to focus on one without the other. Consumers are getting smarter and have greater expectations from the companies they choose to open their wallets for. That’s why it’s imperative to create a smart, compelling brand that drives your marketing decisions forward. If you need a sign to finally invest in that rebrand, revisit your brand strategy, or audit your marketing strategy, this is it! Because once you pull the trigger on doing that work, you’ll start to see a huge shift in the way your audience engages with your business and grows your profits.


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