Which One Should You Need To Do First: Branding Or Marketing

Insights / Branding

Here is a long-standing question:

Chicken or egg; branding or marketing, which one comes first?

The terms Branding and Marketing can be confusing for new businesses. Oftentimes, they appear interchangeably like they’re the same thing. Nonetheless, they are two distinct strategies that should work side-by-side. 

How are Branding and Marketing different from each other?

Before we get into which comes first, we should have a basic grasp of the differences between Branding and Marketing.

1. The Purpose

Like all business strategies, Branding and Marketing have their very own purpose behind them. The purpose of Branding is to build brand awareness and recognition among your target audience. Branding’s ultimate goal is to allow your consumers to recognize your brand from just simple shapes, jingles or alphabet. Think of the image of a bitten apple or a green mermaid. Recognize the brands?

Of course, it is easier said than done. The stepping stone to this goal is for them to easily recall your brand whenever they are looking for that particular product or service. 

Another purpose of Branding is to connect with your customers. Your branding strategy is directed by your brand story; how you want your brand to be known and recognised, and what impressions and emotions you want to evoke. 

On the other hand, Marketing is like a public announcement to promote your brand. It aims to bring the public’s attention to your brand or product, and drive sales and conversions. The biggest goal in marketing is to reach the right audience at the right time and place to create the maximum impact. 

2. Who vs What

Branding tells your customers who you are; Marketing shows them what you can offer. 

According to The Branding Journal, Branding is the act of giving meaning to a business, company, brand, product or service. It is a set of strategies that tell the backstory to the audience and create a positive perception. Although products and services can be replicated, a brand story is what makes you unique. Combining systematic strategies and creative brand elements such as logo, brand message, mission statements and personality, you could stand out and differentiate yourself from a sea of competitors.

Conversely, Investopedia states that Marketing is the overall activities and processes taken to promote products or services. The “what you can offer” is the main topic surrounding your marketing strategies. Your Marketing campaigns should highlight your product’s unique selling point, and the solutions you could bring to the table to solve your customers’ pain points.

3. Long-term vs One-time

You can have multiple Marketing strategies but one Branding plan. 

Branding is the heart and core of your business. Just like Rome, it cannot be built in a day. Hence, Branding is also a long-term strategy that needs to be consistently monitored and reinforced. Consistent Branding is what helps nurture and shape your brand image at the back of your consumers’ minds so that one day, they would be able to recall your brand. It also helps create a sense of familiarity over time.

Nevertheless, Marketing is a short-term strategy that often depends on the company’s current promotional activity or seasonal events. For example, it can surround the topic of festivals, celebrations, holidays or even your company’s anniversary. In fact, each and every marketing campaigns come in a variety of forms and goals. The New Year Campaign will definitely be different from the Company Anniversary Campaign. One might focus on online and offline campaigns, targeting layman consumers and aiming to drive sales. The other one may only focus on offline and plan to create a better bond between employees. 

Here's How To Make Lip-Smacking Festive Dishes This Chinese New Year With Angel  Brand Sauces - KL Foodie
Angel Brand's CNY Campaign

Kokuyo 20th Anniversary Campaign

4. Guide vs Strategy

Branding is a guide that leads and unifies your actionable marketing strategies. 

What colours, fonts and images should you use in your Marketing Campaigns? You can’t whip up a new theme every single time for your Marketing needs, right? Not only would that eat up your precious time, but your branding would be confusing and inconsistent. Consumers would find a hard time recognizing and relating to your campaigns. 

This is where your Branding would act as the guide to ultimately unify all your Marketing campaigns and collaterals. This does not only include tangible things like colours, fonts and images, but also the tone, voice and personality. You could also think of Branding as the plan and Marketing as the actions to execute the plan. 

Contrastingly, Marketing is all about strategies. How are you going to reach your audience and which mediums are you going to use? Depending on the audience’s nature, they can be in the form of offline marketing like billboards, radio and brochures as well as digital marketing such as email marketing and social media marketing.

Maxell Billboard

5. Loyalty vs Attraction

Branding fosters loyalty; Marketing attracts attention. 

Since the goals behind Branding and Marketing are different, you’ll have to have different executing plans to reach what you aim for. One thing similar though is the need to do thorough market research on your target audience. Without it, you’ll have no idea how to connect and reach them. 

To really connect with your customers and gain their trust, you need to build a persona around your brand, personality and voice. It also helps when you have a mission statement. A study shows that more than half of the consumers prefer a brand that shares their point of view and takes a stand on societal issues that they are passionate about. Consumers are becoming more and more conscious nowadays. They wouldn’t choose a brand just because of the price and packaging design. If you really want to stimulate brand loyalty, you should show your care and concerns towards important issues and trends, and communicate your brand purpose through the mission and vision statements. 

Then, you also need to know where are your target audience, what attracts their attention and stops them from scrolling. This is where attractive Marketing campaigns come in. They commonly use the tactics of catchy slogans, eye-catching key visuals and celebrity endorsements.

STABILO Social Media Campaign

Which comes first?

After dissecting the differences between Branding and Marketing, it is crystal clear that Branding should be executed first. Imagine Branding as the backbone, or the playwright who sets the stage, and Marketing is the performers that help showcase your story. 

Getting your brand guideline, story, logo and tagline sorted out is always the first step to establishing your business. Your Marketing strategy should follow closely your brand guideline by reinforcing the brand identity. But, this doesn’t mean you can’t go creative!

O'LESTE' Branding Campaign

O'LESTE' is one example that undergoes a simple rebrand to launch its digital marketing campaign. Their campaign O’leste’ Grow with Marigold reinforced their brand personality which is Young, Feminine and Pampering as well as their product’s USP, Marigold essence. By creatively infusing the 2 elements into the campaign, the bullet journal concept is able to showcase the freshness and youthful brand image.

Kokuyo Company Anniversary Campaign

Likewise, Kokuyo also went beyond the creative limit in their Company Anniversary Campaign. In the key visual, they reinforced their brand identity by using an isometric design that reflects their core business.

In conclusion, you should always start from Branding and build your way up to Marketing. Although the whole Branding project can be intimidating and overwhelming, you could always seek assistance from Full-service Creative Agency who could help you from Branding all the way to Marketing. This way, you wouldn’t have to worry about misaligned brand guidelines and miscommunications.

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