While many people—even marketing managers—use the terms marketing and branding interchangeably, they have related but distinct roles. We like to think of them as healthy co-dependents, who flourish best in a fluid relationship.
Here are five ways to keep the relationship between your marketing and branding initiatives healthy, effective, and strong.
#1. Respect Their Differences
Marketing includes the strategy and tactics you use to deliver your messages to the audiences most likely to respond. Marketing is outward facing and data driven—with a goal of motivating new customers to attain goods or services.
The role of branding is to make sure your message not only reaches its target audience but also resonates with it. Branding defines who you are. Yet it’s not all about you. Branding builds trust, loyalty, and confidence. It is how you are perceived in the world and gives you a competitive edge, which is essential to marketing.
#2. Embrace Their Complexities
Your brand is more than your logo. Many companies make the mistake of throwing a new logo on their old messaging and think they have rebranded. They may have even refreshed their fonts and added a new swatch of color as well. Yet, if the changes are superficial, and not part of an overall strategy that elicits the desired response among a target audience, then it’s just aesthetics.
Similarly, marketing is more than just running a one-touch direct mail campaign with your fingers crossed, expecting results. Good marketing comes from the sum of its parts—parts that all work together. Having a strong strategy with achievable goals makes all the difference.
#3. Keep It Real
Your brand is also more than a name. Designer name brands in general have been losing their luster among consumers, particularly value-conscious, opinion-focused millennials. A recent article published in Ad Age went so far as to exclaim, “Millennials don’t care about your brand.” That doesn’t mean your brand doesn’t matter, but we do acknowledge the shift in the way your audience receives and perceives information about your company’s products or services.
Many people, not just millennials, are more interested in value and benefits than name. With so much information available today, including online reviews, it’s easy for people to research and assess your brand 24 hours a day. Their experience with your brand cannot be dismissed; it is reshaping the way companies brand themselves.
Consider that Amazon, one of the biggest brands in the world, now owns a fleet of private label brands, and also markets under its own generic brand called AmazonBasics.
We see all this as further proof that good branding matters. A lot. If your audience is interested in price and value and consumer opinion, your messaging needs to speak to that.
#4. Build Your Brand First
We believe that building a brand is the most crucial element of your overall marketing plan. A comprehensive brand strategy clearly defines your mission, vision, guiding principles, and positioning statement. It is also likely to include a tagline or brand promise, as well as key and supporting messaging. Your brand strategy is the foundation from which all marketing emerges.
Your brand strategy is the starting point. It is not a handoff. You need to continually connect with your audience in a personal way to boost your marketing efforts.
#5. Share Your Story. Don’t Sell Your Soul.
At the end of the day, your brand is the heart and soul of your marketing. It’s how you engage your audience and share your story in a way that is authentic and relevant to them. It’s what creates that emotional connection.
Or, in the wise words of Mad Men’s Don Draper: “You feel something and that is what sells.”
There are all kinds of tools available to select channels and tactics to market your company—and data to support your decisions. Remember, even if you are able to pinpoint the most targeted audience, you won’t get far if you don’t engage your audience in a way that is meaningful to them. If they find your message irrelevant, poorly executed or a distraction, you will turn them off and they will tune you out.
Like any relationship, marketing and branding need to communicate with and support each other to remain strong and healthy. Keep the brand messaging fresh and relevant, and make sure your marketing tactics reflect and push forward your core values.