If you think that deciding between marketing and branding is like choosing which Mexican luchador to support in a Battle Royale, think again! The concepts are often confused and sometimes conflated in the minds of consultants, clients and the media. Far from being diametrically opposed, however, the two ideas are in fact closely related. The distinction between the two are subtle - branding is establishing or fine-tuning the ‘identity’ of a company, while marketing encompasses all the actions taken to convince customers to transact business with you. Branding should inform marketing: Rolls Royce definitely employs different marketing techniques to those Chevrolet would use.
Despite the differences between the two terms, both branding and marketing share the same fundamental requirement: effective use of visual communication elements. In short – good design is everything."
"In short – good design is everything."
Go Beyond the Logo
What is a brand? Although a logo is the first (and many times the only) thing that comes to mind when many people think about branding, the concept of a brand is much deeper. An organization’s brand is its character, its personality. Your brand encompasses everything a (potential) customer thinks and feels about your organization. This can be a double-edged sword, because it means that you are not completely in control of your brand. (and you never will. The best you can hope for is to navigate your market) However, strong and consistent messaging and actions help to reinforce brand identity in the marketplace.
Get Your Message Out
You’ve got a great product, but if nobody knows about it, who is going to buy what you have to offer? This is where marketing comes in. From traditional advertising on paper, radio and television to low-pressure “presence” campaigns on social media, marketing is all about a) making potential customers aware of the product, and b) encouraging the buying behavior of the target market. Good, effective marketing relies on strong, attractive visuals to communicate a message that is easily understood by the recipients.
Our Visual World
By now you must have noticed the common thread that links the two concepts; good visual design is crucial to both good branding and good marketing. But why?
The truth is, for all our high-level verbal processing skills, our human brain is still most comfortable interpreting visual data. Our inherent pattern recognition abilities respond positively to graphical information that is neatly and logically presented in a manner that we find attractive. As consumers, we are much more likely to recall and relate and respond to information if it is delivered in an attractive, easy to understand manner which is designed for visual consumption.
Applying this principle to the branding process involves putting a lot of time and thought into how your core brand values can translate into instantly recognizable symbols or words which deliver their primary impact through their shape. As mentioned above however, branding does not start nor stop at the logo, and neither does graphic design. All company branding material must be given the same amount of careful attention. Business cards, letterheads, websites, social media and all other collateral must all reinforce each other by delivering a consistent message through a uniform look and feel across all channels.
Now that corporate communications in general, and marketing in particular, have shifted quite decisively towards heavy emphasis on visual mediums, thoughtful graphic design has become even more important to ensuring your business marketing activities are successful. The ability to attract customers’ attention in a crowded marketplace depends on large part on your ability to present your message in a striking yet easily understood way. Good graphic design ensures that your message will ‘get the eyeballs’ it needs and spur the actions you want your consumers to take – seemingly effortlessly.
Graphic Design – a key ingredient to a successful business strategy
Both branding and marketing are very important activities to a business or organization. And both rely on incorporating strong graphic design principles to be effective. No matter what type of communication you are engaged with, in today’s visual world, content may still be king, but how the content is packaged may determine whether it is even consumed in the first place.