One question that disturbs the mind is distinguishing between the two often used terms i.e. marketing vs. branding. Both seem to mean the same thing but then why have two terms in use. The following text is an effort at understanding marketing vs. branding as is being applied in the world of business today.
One point that needs to be mentioned right, in the beginning, is that with the market going global and the competition getting ruthlessly intense these two terms have evolved to have very own identities in the world of business.
Marketing is not branding: Understand the difference
Sometimes, marketing and branding are used to mean the same activities. Some even use the term “branding” instead of “marketing” to show their modernity.
However, experienced and knowledgeable professionals and academicians know these are not the same. Both are needed to reach customers, to create new customers, to improve sales, and to increase the number of loyal customers.
The distinction between marketing vs. branding can be understood by considering the following aspects of the two:
Marketing is a tool for generating revenues whereas branding ensures the trustworthiness of the product
Branding comes before marketing. Branding creates an identity of your product and your organization whereas marketing helps you convey the market that your product is the best one. If you have undertaken to brand seriously marketing tools become more effective.
Marketing focuses on today;’s customers but branding focuses on long-term relationships with customers and the market
While marketing focuses on getting the customer to buy the product branding seeks to get the customers to choose their product repetitively by holding their attention for the brand.
Marketing will have to ensure that the product remains competitive, reaches the correct spots from where they would be found by the customers, priced within the affordability of customers and the quality would be good enough to keep the customers happy.
Branding, on the other hand, ensures that the customers get the feeling that this brand is the best fit for them and their attention is always focused on the particular brand.
Marketing ensures adequate sales whereas branding ensures stronger and positive existence
Every aspect of marketing ensures that their particular brand spells value for money to the customer, it is the efforts spent in building a brand image (branding) that would build up a long term relationship of trust and faith amongst the customer base for the brand proper.
Thus other products that would be of interest to the customers will be more acceptable to them if brought to them under the same company brand. The soft drinks of Coca Cola have more visibility and acceptance than other products of lesser-known brands.
This may mean that people are selecting an inferior product – recall the case of mineral water Dasani (from the house of Coca Cola) which created a scandal. Thus proper marketing ensures that adequate sales are made while branding ensures that the customers keep coming back and make repeat purchases.
Marketing provides quick results but branding provides long-lasting results
Efforts of marketing are seen to bring results much faster compared to efforts spent in branding. Some people tend to call marketing a hundred-meter dash while branding is a marathon race.
Whatever it may be both are essential to ensure the results generated by the firm. The difference is that the marketing efforts deliver short term results while branding generates long term and lasting advantages in a highly competitive market.
Marketing and both drives sales but follows different paths
In the debate of marketing vs. branding, a sticky situation often comes up as to which one is more important – marketing or branding. Initially, it may be felt that marketing is of greater importance than branding since it drives sales and ensures the survival of the organization. In order to solve this riddle, it will be necessary to recap what branding does which marketing does not.
The brand introduces the firm to the market and the customers then scan their past track records regarding their area of core competence, value structures, ethical and moral background and above all the reputation (or otherwise) in the market. The brand image which takes quite some time to evolve in the market forms the foundation for the marketing activities to be triggered.
The brand image gives an outline if not shape to the identity of the firm complete with its vision, mission, and core value system. Thus while marketing is very important the branding efforts are more important in the sense that it drives and augments product visibility in the market. The brand communicates the core values of the firm to the customer base.
Marketing strategy can change in a short span of time but not branding strategy
As the competitive scenario of a market undergoes changes the marketing efforts also have to be dovetailed to match up with the market forces.
The strategies for marketing needs to adjust to the newer challenges that markets throw up. Hence marketing approaches are often found to adopt changing strategies. On the contrary, branding efforts and strategies are comparatively fixed and stable.
However much the competitive scene may change the basic value system of the firm will remain the same. The brand must live up to its identity that gets crystallized in the minds of the customers. In a nutshell, it may be stated that marketing efforts keep changing patterns while branding strategies remain firm.
Both are influencers but have different ways of influencing the market
The above drives home a very simple fact and that is the much wider area of influence of branding. Marketing has influences and impacts on the customers which are essential for driving sales.
Branding on the contrary impacts and influences not only the customers but also the marketing people themselves. With a very clear brand image, the marketing people are restricted to stay within a boundary-line of ethics and morality.
The brand image will not permit any actions which would hurt the brand image. Thus for any organization, the branding takes a much higher internal importance as far as operations are concerned.
It is thus seen from the above that branding is very different from marketing. The marketing vs branding issue can be reconciled with the observation that each one is complementary to the other.
Marketing efforts go in to develop branding and branding ensures that marketing is done as per the vision and mission of the firm. Both are indispensable and yet they are inseparable.