If you’ve started a business, you’ve probably thought about advertising. You may or may not have thought about your brand, perhaps because the line between advertising and branding isn’t always clear. Understanding the difference is important as it’ll help you develop relationships with your customers and boost the viability of your company.
Let’s briefly examine branding vs. advertising so you can apply these best practices to your overall business strategy.
Branding is Your Promise to Your Customer
Branding deals with everything to do with your identity and what you do that makes a customer loyal to your product or services. In terms of your identity, this includes your logo and name to your brand colors and tagline, which all shape how customers think of you. Branding helps build relationships with your customers as it relays a consistent theme that your customers come to know and expect. This helps set your customer’s expectations of their interactions with you.
Your brand also includes the tone you use in advertising, social media posts and newsletters; your company’s community outreach; your treatment of employees; and every other impression your business makes on the public. It might sound overwhelming, but these are all very important to your business, so it’s important to establish things like the mission of your company, the selling features of your product or services, and the customer base you’re looking to target early on.
For example, if you own a surf shop, your customers will expect it to have a certain look and feel to it. Your company might sponsor outdoor water sports events, host beach parties, and have workers wear beach shorts while in the shop. Staff might use casual language and talk about the importance of being in nature and disconnecting from technology. It’s also important to differentiate yourself from other surf shops: are you associated with surf pros or providing lessons for beginners? A corporate attorney’s branding likely involves suits, shiny offices in high rises with large desks, and formal language. A restaurant offering upscale cocktails and trendy appetizers will have different branding than a family-owned Italian restaurant.
Everything your company does—from its website, to the appearance of its stores, to the stationery it uses, to the way it handles customer complaints—must be reflected in your branding. What qualities do you want associated with your company? Are your prices higher because you have a niche offering, or lower because your product is mass market? If your branding is strong, consistent and authentic, customers will keep coming back.
Advertising Spreads Awareness About Your Business
Advertising is part of building your brand—and should reflect your company’s brand and values—but it’s also about communicating your goods and services to a wider audience. This can be through online advertising campaigns, social media promotions, or even local media. Advertising is targeted to your audience but not to any one individual. It’s a way to convince a large audience to take a certain action, such as coming into your store or making an online purchase, because sales are important to any business.
Sure, advertising is great for getting your company’s name out to the wider public. After all, customers are unlikely to come into your coffee shop if they’ve never heard of you. If you have a special offer or are celebrating a milestone, advertising is a good way to get the word out. But what keeps these customers coming back is your branding. It’s what tells your customers what they can expect from your business. If you deliver on that you’ll have loyal customers for years to come.
Olga Traskova is a Senior Manager in Marketing and Sales Operations at Connectivity.