Marketing Vs. Branding: What Comes First?

Developing a reputable brand and marketing strategy for a business is no easy task. Pressure to get your brand out there and bring in sales is high. However, similar to any other project, the more preparation you put in beforehand, the more likely you are to be successful and see your efforts pay off. But, where do you begin?


The most important part of beginning to define your business is to recognise how to use both marketing and branding to effectively communicate with your customers, and begin to earn their  trust and loyalty.


Key to this process is being absolutely certain on how different marketing and branding are.


Marketing is clearer to define than branding, so it seems possible to dive straight in with developing a marketing strategy. However, this is not a good course of action. Marketing is active promotion of a product or service using a message, process and tools aiming to bring in sales.  It is telling customers the difference between your brand and the competitors; it is showing what your brand looks like and what its personality is. It is not branding.


Brand strategy should always come first.  Branding is the expression of attributes, values and characteristics that convey who you are; permeating the culture behind the business. This rules all of its processes. Your brand is the unique value and experience you offer your customer and as a result, they are the only ones who truly know what the brand is. Your brand is your customer’s perception of it. A brand acts as a promise that must be delivered; you make a promise to your customers and you must deliver on that promise in order to gain their trust. All in all, their trust will impact your bottom line.


Your brand is what makes you different to competitors and your marketing strategy is getting your customers to see the difference. A compelling brand experience is what drives customer loyalty, and marketing campaigns must always match your brand values; this way, when one campaign is over, your brand still remains ready to drive the next campaign.


Think of your brand as train tracks that guide a train, representing your marketing campaign. The trains do not deviate from the tracks, always going in the direction the tracks are pointing, and the tracks are always present whether there is a train or not.


Which companies are winning with branding and marketing campaigns?


There are plenty of big companies that implement strong marketing and branding campaigns down to a T, helping both reinforce a positive brand reputation and boost sales at the same time.


So, who should we be taking inspiration from?


Nike: Just Do It


There was a time when Nike supplied almost exclusively to marathon runners; that is, until more and more everyday people began to be taken in by the fitness craze of the ‘80s. Taking advantage of this, Nike launched their iconic ‘Just Do It’ campaign, which perfectly captured what attitude people should have toward exercising. Don’t want to take the stairs? Don’t fancy going to the gym? Don’t mess around, Just Do It.

Nike’s products provided a ‘solution’ to consumer’s dilemmas around exercising and pushing yourself to new limits, which is something you can try and emulate within your own business and campaigns.


Coca Cola: Share a Coke


A brilliant original idea, the Share a Coke campaign got everyone searching their local supermarket shelves to just see if there was a bottle with their name on it; the company predicted that consumers would go crazy for some personalisation. In addition to this, rather than having a slogan like ‘Have a Coke Rebecca’ with a multitude of names, the use of ‘Share a Coke’ also encouraged people to buy one with their friends and family’s names on as a treat or interesting talking point. This campaign was a great example of knowing their target audience, which in this instance was teens and millennials, and then creating a personable connection with this audience. They went a step further by letting the consumers drive their success; using the fact that this particular target audience is exceptionally technology and social media savvy, they encouraged people to share photos and use the #shareacoke hashtag, giving the campaign even more exposure.


How can I develop my company’s brand?


When thinking about how to start managing a brand for your business, you want to create a personality and voice that depicts what you do and what you stand for as accurately as possible, keeping in mind why you built this business.


 Think about what type of business you are, what you stand for and what products or services you will provide, and how you will go about doing so. For instance, do you want to have a casual, approachable essence or do you want to seem more formal? Compiling an inventory of your skills may help you answer these questions; from there you can begin to work out what kind of customers you will be targeting, what your goals will be, and how you will be able to best fulfil their needs.


Soul searching within your company will allow you to come to a conclusion of what makes you unique and better than the competition, and consider how your brand will affect people’s everyday experiences.  Gathering this image of your business will enable you to craft a mission statement to be implemented throughout your company’s culture, driving all marketing campaigns you produce in the future.



Pixel8 and Brandit Global can help you and your business recognise what brand image you want to portray, and help you implement techniques to portray your brand personality effectively. Contact us with any questions or join the discussion on Twitter at @BranditGlobal.


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