Deciding to shift my career out of the marketing/PR industry to join our industry was one filled with lots of excitement and understandable learning curves. It's a move many weren't surprised to see, given that love for PVF naturally flows through my veins growing up in my family business. Still, I often get asked what surprises me the most as a marketer in this industry. While there aren't many noteworthy "surprises," there is a recurring interaction I find myself in when people in the industry see my title, whether through a verbal introduction to my role or exchanging business cards. It's often met with a subtle glance of confusion or an honest inquiry as to why I have both "Marketing and Brand" listed in my title. Aren't those two the same? Or "How is Porter Pipe & Supply a brand? You aren't manufacturing anything".
These questions prompted me to write this month's column and ensure a general understanding of these marketing terms. So, let's dive in. Is there a difference between marketing & brand, and if so, are both necessary?
BRAND VS. MARKETING
As the popular saying goes, "branding is what people say about you when you're not in the room," while marketing is how you communicate your brand message to the world.
While the terms "brand" and "marketing" are often used interchangeably, I'm here to confirm that they are, in fact, two different concepts that play very different roles in the success of a business. Yet, they work together to complement each other when executed properly. Understanding the nuances between the two concepts will be key in effectively leveraging them for maximum success in your 2023 marketing and business ventures.
BRANDING IS ABOUT IDENTITY
"Marketing is like asking someone out on a date. Branding is the reason they say 'yes'".
Think of your brand as the face of your business. It's what people will think of when they hear your business name. Just like an identity – it communicates who you are, what you stand for, and what makes your company unique. The goal is to ensure it enforces a consistent look, feel, experience, and message that resonates with customers so that when they see your logo, hear your slogan, or use your product, they immediately recognize it as yours.
Your brand is the foundation upon which everything else is built. As this industry knows, nothing good can be built without a strong foundation (literally or figuratively). This foundation will serve as the "blueprint" for all marketing and communications initiatives, so it's essential to create one that accurately and intentionally reflects the values of your business. For example, Nike's brand empowers athletes to perform at their best. Its "Just Do It" slogan captures this message in a simple phrase that creates an emotional connection with its audience.
BRAND IMPACT FUN FACT — color improves brand recognition by up to 80% (Forbes).
MARKETING IS ABOUT GENERATING AWARENESS
Like the dating analogy used above- the brand may be why someone says "yes" to your date proposal, but if you don't ask, you'll be "dateless." This same concept applies here. No matter how great your brand is, you will only move the needle if you market it.
Marketing is about generating and getting that awareness to the targeted audience/customer base. It's the process and tactics used to make people aware of your product(s) or service(s) and persuade them to ultimately make a purchase or partnership. (Or for many of us as distributors, the role of marketing here would be to show customers WHY they should buy their desired product(s) from us).
Depending on your business objectives, budget, and industry, marketing can be done in various ways, such as advertising, social media, search engine optimization (SEO), public relations, promotions, print pieces, and more. Ultimately, you will need to determine how to reach your target audience. Once that happens, you'll need to create content that piques their interest. This is the key to generating awareness to move the sales needle - and that's ultimately what marketing is all about!
Regardless of the tactic or target customer base, I can promise you that your marketing efforts will benefit from having a solid brand foundation.
BRANDING IS LONG-TERM AND CONSISTENT
One significant difference between branding and marketing efforts is that one stays the same, and the other doesn't.
Your brand is a long-term investment that, with proper care will build over time. Therefore, consistency is so important! It's not just about creating an eye-catching logo or tagline; it's about creating an entire identity framework that resonates and earns trust with customers. It should guide the marketing campaigns deployed. Just remember, building a reputation takes time!
BRAND IMPACT FUN FACT — it's been found that consumers are willing to pay more for brands with a defined clear purpose —and in some cases, up to 50% more than for similar, less identifiable brands!
MARKETING IS SHORTER-TERM AND CHANGEABLE
Let’s face it- trends and technology are constantly changing, so it’s important you recognize what worked for your marketing efforts last year may not resonate with your customer base today. While the long-term consistency of a brand will aid in the success of marketing efforts- marketing will look to address shorter-term goals and objectives executed as campaigns with a set start and end date. The shorter lifespan is a benefit to marketers as it permits the opportunity for testing and iteration, thus allowing you to better understand and tailor content to your customer.
My advice to marketers regarding this is to go for it- get creative- just remain agile when while keeping a close eye on the performance metrics.
BRANDING AND MARKETING IS A BALANCING ACT
By this point in the column, I hope you have a better understanding of why combining a well-planned marketing strategy with the momentum of a solid brand identity sets any business on the right path to success. A continuous effort to keep an even balance of both - short-term wins (marketing) and long-term success (brand) priorities can only excel you forward.
Entering a new year seems like no better time to ask yourself: how do you define your brand, and what are you doing to promote it?