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Marketing may just be for Christmas but your brand certainly isn’t

Branding... isn’t that just a part of your company’s marketing strategy?

Short answer... no.

Brand and Marketing are two very different disciplines and the tasks and skills involved in creating a brand versus creating a campaign vary massively. When properly combined, they compliment and enhance each other, but marketing without brand is ineffective and vapid.

While branding defines a company’s identity by answering questions like “Why are you in business?” and “What is your customer base?”, helping to define your mission, your vision and your values, marketing focuses on conveying those answers to the target audience.

Branding is the foundation of a company’s image, answering the big questions and creating the core messages, while marketing takes those messages and brings them to life in dynamic and attention-grabbing ways. Building a brand is an audit of your company ethos before being distilled into a coherent identity. It is the external embodiment of your company’s internal values.

A branding agency serves as an impartial third party that can look at your business with fresh eyes and expertise, and help you shine a light on the areas that need addressing. They bring a fresh perspective to help refocus your offering and maximise your impact on your consumer base, it generates the key messages, the ammunition if you will, that give your marketing true impact. Marketing can only do so much if your brand is not coherent and understandable. Without that in place, marketing can be hollow and lack authenticity no matter how dynamic it is. Just a shiny bauble on a Christmas tree whose needles have fallen off already.

Think of branding as a long-term investment, with a focus on building a strong and enduring image that stands the test of time. On the other hand, marketing is more fluid and adaptable, changing with the seasons to keep up with the times. A brand agency acts as a trusted partner, constantly assessing a company’s image and providing guidance to maintain relevance and consistency.

By the time you get to marketing, you shouldn’t need to answer any of those questions because they exist in the brand. Instead, marketing focuses on finding ways to convey those answers to your target audience. Marketing isn’t focused on creating a core message but on finding new and striking ways to share existing messages and make sure they’re getting to the right people.

Marketing can change from season to season, while brand spans years. Your brand will hopefully stand the test of time and be in place for years if not decades and while a marketing campaign can be changed with relative ease and speed, your brand needs to be maintained and cared for. A brand agency acts as an extension of your team, externally assessing your brand's impact and providing assistance to keep it on point and relevant to your values and the marketing campaigns that support it.

In short, while branding provides the foundation, marketing brings it to life. Both are crucial to a company’s success, but serve different purposes. Do your due diligence on whoever you choose and always work with a branding agency whose opinion and vision you value and are willing to work with collaboratively - not prescriptively. Your brand and your marketing will, in turn, be stronger for it.

Author Al Mitchell