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How Does Branding Differ from Marketing?

A discussion of just about anything can often begin with a lesson about the history of the topic as though the subject, to be valid for debate, must have its roots deeply formed in the past. Branding, the practice of adhering a mark of identity upon a possession or reputation, can be traced back to 7000 BC according to those who document such historical facts. For many in more recent generations, the term branding refers to the act of burning a mark of identity upon the hide of a rancher’s livestock who were occasioned to escape confines and roam freely about the American West. Undoubtedly the practice of denoting ownership of cattle continues somewhere today but branding has become something far more evolved and valuable in a world where identity and differentiation can play a major role in business success.

In the vast world of commerce, a brand is the total summation of a producer’s identity, persona, and values. Unlike marketing, it’s not about campaigns concerning the features and benefits of specific products and services, but rather about who the company is and what it does for its customers. A brand can shape perceptions about the company’s personality and purpose.

A well-marketed brand can result in consumers expressing favorability for a particular company. Seth Godin, marketing and leadership expert, says, “A brand is the set of expectations, memories, stories and relationships that, taken together, account for a consumer’s decision to choose one product or service over another.”  Unlike marketing tactics, great brands are built over a long period of time and require a clear strategy, dedication to a mission, and consistent implementation.

What is the brand’s story, how is it different, and how does it make consumers feel? Develop your brand by defining who you are, your targeted audience and what solutions you are offering. Raise awareness among consumers by promoting the values, mission and purpose through multiple communication channels and marketing collateral. Strive to create consistent and authentic messaging that matches the company’s actions to build trust and loyalty. Consumers are becoming smarter and can question the validity and authenticity of a brand’s messages. Don’t “fudge” the facts, walk the talk.

A brand can be represented by a logo, tagline, images, or content that can attract attention and motivate a consumer to act. Together, visible brand elements such as design, color, and logo are a visual identity of who a company is, what it does, and often what it believes. In today’s socially sensitive and technologically accelerated environment, many well-established companies are realizing the importance of keeping the company’s image closely aligned with a more dynamic consumer. It’s no longer just about a brand that represents a historic core competency, but one that establishes trust and credibility with associates and customers alike.