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The difference between branding and marketing
So what is branding? People often confuse branding for marketing and vice versa. So perhaps it's best to clarify the two.
Marketing is where you use various methods to promote your product, service, or company. That could be anything from advertising, newsletters, public relations, guest posts, content, social media posts. Anything that enables you to connect with your potential customers.
Branding, on the other hand, is how you define yourself as a business. It's what shapes you, forms your values, what you believe. What you stand for. The most classic branding example to use would be Apple.
The crazy ones
A while back, Steve Jobs and Apple released an ad that talked not about the product but their ethos. "Here's to the crazy ones," the ad would say. "the misfits, the rebels, the troublemakers, the round pegs in the square holes."
Immediately Apple's ad identifies themselves as being different. Think different. You can already get a sense of where their branding tone is going.
'the ones who see things differently -- they're not fond of rules, and they have no respect for the status quo.'
None of this is talking about a computer, how much memory it has, how much space the hard drive stores, or any of that stuff. It's purely talking about ideology in a profound and meaningful way.
The ad goes much deeper, right to the core. That's what branding is about.
'You can quote them, disagree with them, glorify or vilify them, but the only thing you can't do is ignore them because they change things.'
So now you can get a clearer picture. Apple is saying they don't just make good computers; their staff, their people, and yes, even their customers are the kind of people who dare to make a change; they go against the grain to achieve something great.
Right now, you can picture someone sitting at home watching tv, they see the ad come on, and they identify with Apple computers (their right target market does anyway).
That kind of messaging is super powerful because it goes so much deeper than the marketing. It's what made Apple unique, and it's what makes them stand out.
'They push the human race forward, and while some may see them as the crazy ones, we see genius because the people who are crazy enough to think that they can change the world are the ones who do.'
Powerful stuff, huh?
Branding, unlike marketing, can be a lot more challenging to achieve, but when you master it and achieve your brand on point, its message is so much more powerful.
So how do I apply branding to a website?
Great question. A website can't define your brand, it's more of a marketing tool, but it CAN include elements that echo your brand. We'll go through a few suggestions to get you started.
Going back to the Apple brand, at the time of writing this article, everything you see is in big, bold whites and blacks. That style does not change no matter what part of the website you are on.
If Apple were to break away from that style, the consistency would breakaway, and the message might be lost. So to echo your brand, be consistent in your styles throughout. Fonts, colours, sizes.
Keep it simple
Don't bombard the pages with lots of pictures and video, and text. Keeping plenty of breathing space between elements on a page isn't just a design choice; it helps make it easier to digest the message you're trying to convey.
Keep your copy very clear and to the point. Images can help support what you are trying to get across.
It should all contribute to singing the same song. At the time of writing this article, visit the Australian coca-cola website, we can see a single large message that says 'Making life's moments more meaningful' with an image of some coke bottles cooling in an esky on a beach towel on the beach.
The sentence is brief but to the point. The image makes no ambiguity about what the scene on the beach is relating to. People together, out having fun and enjoying some drinks and conversation together.
Tell us about your business
Products and services will always be the first go-to things to include on a website, but it also helps to mention other things that echo your brand's values.
For example, you might find a business that sells honey might donate a small percentage of its earnings to invest in efforts to save bees whose numbers have been dwindling globally.
A fine bourbon distillery might talk about the entire process of how they make their fine bourbon, a process involving time, patience, and the loving care the brewers put into their work.
All these things that give insight into your business's ideals and ethos help convey your brand.
There's a lot more that can be said for branding, but hopefully, these tips can help you make a start on keeping your website's brand more on point.
Be consistent, keep it simple, be clear and tell us about your business.