Marketing & Branding

Branding All Year Long: Branding Vs. Marketing

Marketing Vs BrandingHave you ever been in a meeting where the terms “marketing” and “branding” have been used interchangeably? It happens everyday in marketing departments and executive offices all across the country. But here’s the rub: Marking and branding aren’t the same. In fact, they’re vastly different.

In the article “The Difference Between Marketing And Branding,” James Heaton, president and creative director of Tronvig Group, a Brooklyn, New York-based marketing and brand strategy consulting firm, does a masterful job explaining just exactly what branding is and what marketing does. So as we kick off the Branding All Year Long series, we thought this was the perfect place to start.

In a nutshell, Heaton suggests marketing is push, branding is pull.

“Marketing is actively promoting a product or service. It’s a push tactic. It’s pushing out a message to get sales results: ‘Buy our product because it’s better than theirs.’ (Or because it’s cool, or because this celebrity likes it, or because you have this problem and this thing will fix it, etc.)

“Branding should both precede and underlie any marketing effort. Branding is not push, but pull. Branding is the expression of the essential truth or value of an organization, product, or service. It is communication of characteristics, values and attributes that clarify what this particular brand is and is not.”

So, branding is strategic and marketing is tactical. Branding tells your story. It supports sales and marketing activities. It encourages someone to buy a product, but it does so without boldly saying “Buy Me Now!” Heaton explains:

“Marketing may contribute to a brand, but the brand is bigger than any particular marketing effort. The brand is what remains after the marketing has swept through the room. It’s what sticks in your mind associated with a product, service, or organization—whether or not, at that particular moment, you bought or did not buy. The brand is ultimately what determines if you will become a loyal customer or not.”

So how do promotional products and branded merchandise fit into the marketing/branding collaboration? They can play a vital role with each.

In terms of branding, promotional products are effective because more than 80% of people who receive them can remember the advertiser. Why is brand recall so high? Because people love promotional products—so much, in fact, that 58% keep them from one to four years. No other advertising vehicle has this kind of brand recall combined with that kind of staying power.

Promotional products gain their branding power from being useful. With this use comes repeat brand exposure: 73% use promotional product gifts at least one a week, and 45% use them at least once per day. No other advertising medium puts your brand in your customers’ hands—literally—more often.

Promotional merchandise also appeals to the five senses. Depending on the item, you can see, hear, smell, taste and feel the product—all things that can develop positive associations, impressions and memories related to your brand.

From a marketing perspective, branded merchandise drives action. Think lead generation or purchase incentive. If you’ve been to a professional sporting event recently, you’ve probably seen a sponsoring credit card company offering free t-shirts to anyone who fills out an application. Or if you’ve been to a cosmetics or perfume counter at a department store, you know that throughout the year there will be special offers of sample-size products plus a makeup case or tote bag to drive sales.

Some promotional products can even do double duty. At a restaurant, if you buy the specialty drink (at a higher price point!), you get the souvenir glass decorated with the establishment’s logo to take home. The decorated glassware is an enticement to make an immediate purchase. That’s marketing. You take it home, use it and think fondly of the restaurant. That’s branding. Win-win! That’s an easy tactic to employ no matter what business you’re in.

“Marketing unearths and activates buyers. Branding makes loyal customers, advocates, even evangelists out of those who buy,” Heaton says. For any business to succeed, you must have both. Get all of Heaton’s insights by reading the complete article here.


And if you’d like to know more about how promotional products are a proven method to build your brand and deliver marketing ROI, book an appointment by clicking here or call us at 248-538-4700. Mention the blog, and we’ll send you some SMART Swag to get the conversation started!