The Puzzling Relationship of Branding & Marketing

Time to Read: 5 minutes

Written by Asa Goldstein, Founder

If you’ve spent some time reading through our Insights, you probably recognize a pattern: we like to explore the more counterintuitive aspects of branding and marketing for startups, all in search of deeper truths and transformative insights that fuel explosive growth.

Today, we’ll tackle the conundrum that seems to bother just about every entrepreneur (and many marketing experts): the relationship between branding and marketing.

You may wonder, what’s the difference? Where do they overlap? How do they interplay to strengthen my outreach and drive concrete results?

Well, let’s illuminate this subject––one enigma at a time.

Which comes first, the brand or the marketing?

At risk of getting a little too philosophical for a blog about branding, we like to think of this question as an analogue to the age-old parable: “Which came first, the chicken or the egg?”

Our answer? They arise simultaneously, as two sides of the same coin.

Too mind-bending? Let’s bring this back down to Earth.

There can be no brand without marketing to promote its message, and there can be no effective marketing without a strategically built and creatively innovative brand to inspire it.

The interplay between marketing and branding continues for the lifetime of your business––the brand being bolstered and validated by the marketing, while marketing efforts are made more effective by the evolving reputation of the brand.

Branding builds relationships so that marketing can leverage those relationships and drive sales.

The goodwill fostered between startups and their ideal customers (whether through positive impact that resonates with their values, community engagement, helpful free resources, or general brand resonance) not only establishes your company as a respected player in your niche, but also breaks down the pre-existing barriers between you and your ideal customers.

Of course, this makes marketing far more effective and sales much easier to close. A strong brand is built in the long-term, so that short-term marketing efforts can deliver immediate results.

Branding sets the stage and positions marketing for a win; branding is the alley-oop that offers marketing the opportunity to make the slam-dunk.

Branding should be a one-time activity, while marketing is ongoing.

When done right, professionally branding your startup should be a one-time exercise.

Unless your product, service, audience, or positioning change significantly, your brand strategy and visuals should last for the lifetime of your business. Rebrands can be costly and time-consuming in the later stages of your business’ development––it’s better to build a complete and strategically sound brand as soon as it's in your budget to do so.

Marketing, on the other hand, requires constant adaptation to trends, acknowledgement of hard data, and continually inventive thinking to stay ahead of the curve and secure results.

A sound brand strategy and killer visual identity paired with a conversion-oriented website are a surefire trio for empowering your marketing efforts to deliver outstanding outcomes.

Investing in branding ensures effective investment in marketing.

If you’ve closed an investment round or two, your advisors may have recommended that you spend 10-20% of your funding on marketing––this is a common recommendation. The question becomes, how much of that should you spend on branding and website work?

After all, you may think, the brand should account for a relatively small part of your overall marketing spend.

Though it may not be in our best interest to say so, we agree with you.

We feel a fair investment of your funding in branding is 10%-20% of your marketing budget (which is typically 10-20% of your overall funding)––so, effectively ~1-5% of your most recent funding round should be allocated to strategizing and building the foundation for more effective marketing, a stronger team culture, and an elevated customer experience.

The key insight here is that the ~1-5% investment in branding is what makes the rest of your marketing spend worthwhile. Your investments in marketing simply can’t deliver the results you expect without a strong brand, strategy, online presence, and understanding of your audience/market positioning.

The mystery of ROI, solved.

Prospective clients often ask us about the ROI of branding. As with every other investment you make for your startup, you’re measuring it on one core metric: are you getting more money out of it than you’re investing in it? Of course, it follows to apply the same logic to investments in creative services.

Our instinct is to remind our clients that branding is the partially-intangible work that empowers later marketing efforts to deliver very-tangible (and much improved) results. However, branding isn’t all high-level strategy and fancy visuals––it does have direct influence on the numbers in your business.

The metrics that best demonstrate the immediate impact of a rebrand (not including the marketing efforts that follow), are:

  • Improved customer loyalty thanks to a brand that deeply resonates, and stellar customer experiences which lead to repeat purchases as well as fierce brand advocates
  • Increased conversion of existing leads/traffic who were previously repelled by mediocre branding and user experiences
  • Expanded brand recognition, establishing your startup as a major disruptor and serious competitor in your niche
  • Surging interest from highly sought-after talent and even major industry players offering lucrative partnerships

These results alone are compelling enough to warrant a rebrand for most growth-stage startups––but as we mentioned, these outcomes are just the beginning when you leverage the combined power of branding and marketing.

Final Thoughts

At BrandShine, we understand this crucial relationship between branding and marketing, demonstrated in our partnerships with award-winning digital marketing agencies. This is to ensure that our clients are not only equipped with deliverables that are thorough, inspiring, and immediately actionable, but can also easily pass said deliverables to teams that can execute campaigns that elevate the brand groundwork to its full potential and attain mind-blowing results.

We’re constantly working alongside these agencies to improve and evolve our branding deliverables (such as the BrandCenter) and the websites we create for our clients.

If you’re interested in learning how our services can bolster your marketing efforts and exponentially increase your marketing ROI, book a consultation with us.

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