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Since the unveiling of Pepsi’s $1 million rebranding package in 20081, people have started talking about why a company’s visual identity is so crucial to its success. Whether it’s McDonalds, Nike, North Face, or Starbucks, companies pay top dollar to make sure that their company’s design is top-notch.
Because you have to fight to stand out in an over-saturated marketing if you are going to succeed.
As a small business owner, I know you feel this deep in your soul.
In order to stand out, many small businesses, like you, pay marketing companies to develop logos, graphics, content, flyers, mailers, websites, landing pages, etc., to help them create a brand and become recognizable in the community.
Maybe you’re doing this as well – working hard to develop your brand and get noticed.
Although these two ideas go hand in hand, branding and marketing are very different, and in order to be a successful small business owner, you need to know the difference.
Differences between Marketing and Branding
The best way to differentiate marketing and branding is to think of it this way: marketing is what you tell people to believe about you; branding is what people understand you to already be.
What does this mean? Here’s a quick breakdown in the idea:
Marketing tells people to look. Branding keeps people looking.
When you run marketing campaigns, you are trying to get in front of people. Flyers, Facebook ads, e-mail blasts, and billboards are all marketing efforts because you are simply trying to get people to notice you!
When someone notices you, though, how long do they keep looking? When they arrive at your website, landing page, or inside your store, do they stick around long? Do they believe you to be trustworthy and reputable? Do they believe that you’ll deliver a great experience?
Why is this important?
If you can get in front of people but cannot get them to engage with you, you’ll not only lose them as a current customer but you will also gain a poor reputation, which will result in losing future customers.
Marketing makes you popular. Branding makes you memorable.
When you see a hilarious commercial or see an amazing picture, you most likely are not the first person to see it. In a world of viral sensations, it’s easy to become immensely popular! But what often happens? Many times, those companies or people become “one hit wonders.”
However, when someone consistently shows up before they become “famous,” those people often go on to build an incredible future. Why? Because when people showed up, they were ready.
Why is this important?
It’s the companies and individuals who can consistently produce great content and provide an amazing experience before they are popular that are setting themselves up to stick around for the long haul.
Marketing is a short game. Branding is a long game.
If you are going to make it, you need to set yourself up to win for years to come. Branding focuses on the mission and vision of a company, the culture that they are trying to foster, the people they are trying to serve. Marketing simply gets people in the door.
Why is this important?
If you want to be a business who is in it for the long haul, you must have a great brand to support your marketing efforts. If not, your marketing efforts will be in vain.
So which is more important and where should you put your focus — Branding or Marketing?
. . . it depends . . .
You should most definitely focus on both branding and marketing; however, if you do not have a great brand in place, every marketing plan you create and put in place will more than likely hurt your brand, not help it.
So if you ask me, you need to focus on branding first.
First, start with your branding.
But where should you begin? What are ways you can establish your brand before you begin marketing yourself and your small business.
Here’s a quick list of what you need to do in order to solidify your brand:
- Create your company’s mission and ideal customer so that you know who you want to serve
- If you don’t have a logo, let’s talk about making one! This is the visual representation of your brand.
- Create a clean website with clear Call to Actions
- Begin collecting user reviews for your business on Google and Yelp
- If you sell a product, begin collecting reviews on those specific products
- Start posting regularly on social media
- Start blogging on your company’s website (here’s another article we published about this topic)
Now it’s time to Market.
Once you begin to establish your brand, now it’s time to start telling people that you’re ready to serve them because when people start to notice you, they’ll start by asking “what are other people saying about this company?” and “is this company trustworthy and established?” If you have established yourself as a reputable and trustworthy business BEFORE you market, you’ll be amazed at the results.
Note: I originally wrote this article for NetBlaze, LLC and it can be found here. Republished with permission.
Hi! I'm Marc.
I serve businesses, bloggers, and organizations by way of creating great websites that are able to be found online. Web design is a passion, but serving you is my joy.
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