small business brandThis article comes to us courtesy of Fried Hustle, a creative agency with a focus on branding, brand consulting, and events — and a member of Jottful Community. Jottful Community is where small business owners can find the best local experts for their website and online marketing.

While marketing and branding are intrinsically linked and interdependent, they are not interchangeable. They feed each other, but they are not the same.

So how do you know which is which and where to start? Keep reading!

Branding, at its core, is the core.

A brand is the perception consumers hold of your company in their minds. Branding is the creation and influence of that perception – a company or product’s values, commitments, and reason for being. It’s everything you put into the world that tells consumers who you are and what you stand for.

Branding, in practice, is not what you feel your brand should be, but how your brand makes consumers feel about themselves.

Marketing is a set of processes and tools for promoting business.

It is about finding and connecting with consumers who are looking for the promise of your brand. It’s promotion and sales, creating a need and satisfying it. Marketing focuses on the consumer, and can change based on season, location, demographic, or trend.

Marketing is specific, targeted, and adaptable. Branding is broad enough to remain steadfast and continue to resonate over time and distance.

branding, marketing, small business

Perhaps the most important distinction is that branding does not change.

Sometimes logos and copy need a refresh, but your core brand values should never falter. A brand identity should permeate and rule not only all content, communications, and consumer touch-points, but company culture, hiring processes, and training materials.

Branding translates an entrepreneur’s vision into a message that catches and sustains consumer attention and engagement. Marketing is the science of identifying channels and processes to relay that message to potential buyers, and convince them to engage and to purchase. Good marketing keeps things fresh and interesting while staying true to the brand. Marketing gets customers in the door, branding keeps them coming back.

Branding is often described as strategic, while marketing is tactical.

Marketing is push, branding is pull. Marketing without branding is like pushing on a door marked pull – it’s not going to get you very far. You can use all the right keywords and marketing tactics, but if your customers can’t connect with your brand, you’ll have fewer conversions, fewer repeat customers, and lower return on investment. Branding is fundamental and paramount. It builds long-term loyalty and serves as a roadmap for all marketing endeavors.

Ultimately, you must know your brand before you can promote it.