Marketing and branding both play similar roles in the success of a business, but navigating the two without an understanding of their differences can lead to considerable confusion for both customers and companies. Knowing how to define each aspect clearly is a crucial skill for entrepreneurs to master. On this episode of The Small Business Show, host Shyann Malone is joined by Suzanne Tulien, brand clarity expert, speaker, owner of Brand Ascension and author of “Brand DNA,” to discuss guidelines for creating a business’s identity and integrating it into the customer experience.
The most critical mistake that small businesses can make when it comes to promoting their identity is failing to realize that branding and marketing are distinct steps in a larger process. While entrepreneurs may be led to believe that the two are synonymous, marketing actually refers to activities that promote the brand, while branding is the process of defining a business’s key attributes. Knowing the difference between the two can be a game-changer, notes Tulien.
There are two kinds of marketing strategies that businesses can use: push marketing and pull marketing. The former sees companies chasing after potential clients by promoting services and products, while the latter relies on a business’s branding to naturally attract customers like a magnet. Because they fail to realize that marketing and branding are separate concepts, many entrepreneurs begin to advertise their business before understanding its identity. As a result, their advertising efforts are relegated to push marketing, which requires significantly more effort and money to accomplish.
Before they use either strategy, Tulien urges small businesses to first define the key attributes that they want their platform to be known for. By pursuing their branding consciously and identifying the core values they hope to represent, entrepreneurs can begin weaving these attributes into their company, both internally and externally. “When they know [their key attributes]…they can actually begin to walk the talk, to create the narrative to send out the marketing messaging that is so in alignment with who they are and what they stand for,” notes Tulien. “They are fully conscious of what’s on-brand and off-brand…who they market to and what they say about their own branded products.”
While this may seem complicated, Tulien notes that every successful company has utilized branding to solidify and improve their marketing, which makes it a necessity for small business. Brand identity is crucial for ensuring consistency, making the company distinctive from competitors and engaging with customers in a unique and meaningful way. The struggle to define a brand is also not exclusive to the business world, as Tulien notes that everyone has an identity they hope will be seen by others. “Every single person on this planet has a brand already,” she notes, “the real question is, are they in control of it?”