It has been in my experience as a graphic design consultant that one of the biggest mistakes that budding entrepreneurs and business owners make is not branding themselves properly. I have found that most people tend to jump straight into the marketing of their business, product or service. Why is this? I believe this is mostly due to the lack of understanding the difference between marketing and branding. During my conversations with potential clients, I have found that a lot of individuals have the notion that marketing and branding are the same thing but this is further from the truth.

What is Marketing?

Marketing is the promotion of a product or service. It is a plan or procedure for promoting a desired end result. To simplify this idea even further think of marketing as Buy our product because it is easier to use than theirs or Because you have this problem and our product will give you the solution to that problem. Marketing helps the consumer answer the question of Why should I buy your product or use your service?

 What is Branding?

Branding should precede and form the foundation of any marketing endeavor. A company’s brand communicates their market identity by clarifying who they are, what they do, and what they provide. Branding is the voice of the value of an organization or business. A brand communicates the characteristics and attributes that tells potential customers what a brand is or is not. The branding process includes logo design, web design, business card and stationery design, and all other marketing collateral. To simplify branding a little further, let’s think of it like this! Every day before we step out of the house, we decide on what outfit to wear and how to style our hair. Some of us even have to have perfectly matching jewelry, and a nice fashionable bag to match right? Before we step out into the world of God knows what, we have to look and feel a certain way. The harsh reality is that humans naturally make assumptions about people and things based on appearance. People conclude attributes about a person before that person even have a chance to speak. A person’s style of dress and the way they conduct themselves says a lot and they don’t even have to speak. Think of a company’s brand in the same way. What does the company’s brand convey?

Your Brand is your promise. You have to deliver on that Promise.

Branding is also the experience of the consumer. We’ve already discussed earlier that a brand conveys what a company is or is not but it is crucially important to also deliver on your brand. Simply put, your brand is your promise to the consumer. It will do you no good to create a brand that does not speak true of what your company actually is or is not. A great brand with a non matching consumer experience just makes you a liar.

Take a look at this example: Let’s say you have a very important package that needs to be delivered to your niece on her birthday. Shipping Company X conveys fast and low cost shipping while Shipping Company Y’s brand conveys fast shipping but is a little a little pricier than Company X (this it the promise). You could have two totally different experiences with each of these companies. Shipping Company X delivered your package quickly and at the affordable price promised but an entire week late.  Shipping Company Y delivered your package quickly and on time. Unless you like being lied to and disappointed in services provided, I am sure the next time you’ll continue to use Shipping Company Y and you’ll be more than happy to pay the few dollars extra but you will also be sure to tell everyone about the horrible experience you had with Shipping Company X. Did you know that 90% of customers trust word of mouth marketing? A great brand along with effective marketing will take a company, organization or product a long way (of course the product would have to be great as well, right? Ha ha

In conclusion, I once heard someone say branding and marketing are the indispensable infrastructures for a successful operation. Yes, Branding and Marketing cost money, but so do financial advisors, and quality employees. It is well worth it and pays for it self in the end. Starting a business can be pricey but cutting corners on your branding and marketing can and will be very costly later on down the line but that’s a topic for another day. Remember, it is more costly to have inadequate marketing and branding and you can’t afford not to have branding and marketing in your business. Marketing does the convincing and the branding is what will make a loyal customer. We all want loyal customers don’t we?

What do you believe is the main differences between branding and marketing? I’d love to read your comments below.

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