Effective marketing and building up the company brand are critical elements affecting the success of your small business. Because the two concepts are so closely related, and because it is nearly impossible to work on one without the other, the terms are often used incorrectly or interchangeably. Keep in mind, however, that when used or implemented properly, marketing and branding refer to two distinct things. To ensure your small business stays on top, it is helpful to grasp the key distinctions between these two terms and to understand why both are important to the growth and profitability of your company.
Definitions: Branding and Marketing
Marketing is more synonymous with advertising than with branding. You can look at marketing as the tool used to accomplish the goal of branding. Marketing refers to the overall stratagem used to delineate and direct sales techniques, business development, and communication. Marketing encompasses conducting market research, strategic product or service advertising, and the long-term promotion of a company’s goods and services, as well as the company itself, through various outlets such as television, newspapers, magazines, and radio. Marketing is an integrated process by which a company develops lasting relationships and establishes value, both for the customer and for itself.
Branding, or creating a brand image or identity, is the building up of characteristics of products, product lines, or styles that are uniquely associated with a company. Through the application of specific marketing techniques, customers perceive a higher value of the company’s products and the company itself.
There is an inescapable interplay between marketing and branding. The above definitions are in line with textbook recounting of the terms, but marketing and branding generally play out a bit differently in real life. In terms of real-world applications, marketing aids the sales function of a company by identifying and developing sales leads, while branding is a theme interwoven throughout the company’s marketing. A simple example of the two concepts in action is a marketing campaign in which a series of television commercials depict a couple beset by several disasters that are ultimately solved by the company’s products. The brand message communicated is the idea that the company is always prepared, even when you aren’t, and you can rely on the company’s products and services to provide whatever you need to handle adverse situations.
Importance of Branding and Marketing for Canadian Small Businesses
Small business owners recognize that cultivating an easily recognizable and trustworthy brand is a significant marketplace advantage. Entrepreneurs have begun to shift more focus into developing and implementing a “brand experience” for customers that encourages buyers to continue patronizing their business for products and services mentally attached to an identifiable name. Many small business owners have discovered that a unique brand image, one separating them from their competition, is among the top factors contributing to their companies’ increasing revenues and high growth potential.
Marketing is not only directly linked to, but inextricably intertwined with, creating a powerful brand. A well-thought-out and carefully executed marketing campaign typically includes citing highlights of products to build positive impressions and credibility for the company’s brand.