Owing to the tough competitive standards that prevail today, Startups have clearly understood the importance of being visible. They put in great efforts to ensure their organizations are highly visible and their presence is distinguished. In the process of achieving this, many startups often fail to understand whether to prioritize marketing or branding. While both the strategies are extremely useful, understanding the difference between the two and identifying the need of the hour and strategizing accordingly is the most effective way.

Many startups fail to understand the difference between marketing and branding in the first place. Although they are strategies that are often used interchangeably, it is wise to compare the two before proceeding. While marketing is more short run, branding is an exercise that aims long run. A business may convince us to buy a particular edition of their products through their marketing, but will it succeed in making us loyal to it and leading us to buy products from them even after this limited edition is what a business’s branding is. An Apple user, for instance, stays loyal to the products and often explores products only of the brand which implies a good branding strategy. While marketing promotes an idea, branding reinforces it. Marketing puts your products at a very dynamic place where the idea of something being sold is pretty evident. But, branding on the other hand, is more subtle and hence more effective.

Despite the various differences, we cannot dismiss the several common points that branding and marketing share. As strategies, both branding and marketing aim at making a business more and more popular and expand its visibility. Branding and marketing strategies are both really crucial when it comes to consumer markets. They are both strategies that ultimately aim at increasing sales, building awareness, target new customers and enhance customer base.

Recent examples of marketing could be the new campaign launched by Swiggy. The campaign is to promote their new service which is No Minimum order on Swiggy. Another example could be that of Zomato coming up with unique slogans and taglines (like, “Mc Bc, Mac n Cheese Butter Chicken”, “The nation wanted to know, Ladka nikal gaya kya?” and many other). Examples of Branding could be Coca Cola that taps on the essence of the business and promotes it. It becomes known for its value proposition. Another example of branding could also be Apple.

As understandable and distinguishable marketing and branding may seem, a trend that we still commonly get to see is that many startups fail to understand the importance of branding and focus entirely on marketing alone. This may be an efficient exercise for increased sales or visibility but only momentary. Marketing strategies may attract crowds and may give the more numbers but may not imply sustainability.  Marketing techniques are also effective when it comes to self-promotion. Despite this positive side that marketing brings forth, it is important for a startup to establish itself as a brand first. It is only an established brand that yields a positive set of results to the marketing efforts. Let’s illustrate this with the use of examples.

An established brand like coca cola can afford to indulge in abundant level of marketing efforts. It has established itself as a brand in the market which is why it should now focus on other business aspects that marketing may enable, like, sales, revenue, numbers and so on. Many experts note that the One-brand strategy that Coca cola launched in 2012-13 was a dual action as it tapped on aspects of marketing as well as branding.

As a startup, Thrillophilia seems very active in marketing. Being a trip organizing and planning portal, its focus seems to be on content marketing. As effective it may have proved but how many of us honestly know about it? Even if we do know about, we may not believe the credibility of their information as quickly as Lonely Planet and Triphobo. This is what highlights the loopholes that ignorance to branding may possibly pose.

Another crucial facet to this debate between marketing and branding is that of cost effectiveness. While marketing can also occur through something as basic as word of mouth, branding can be slightly financially exploitative. Branding requires a set of sophisticated strategies and methods that can be an additional cost to startups. The mindset that therefore operates is that boost the revenue first and then incur these additional costs. In fact biggest of the companies, including Coca Cola and Apple started off with generic marketing, but switched to branding at the right time. The switch to branding has to be done as quickly and efficiently as possible in order to yield desirable results.

Branding is indeed a slower process but promises more sustainability. Customers buy brands and not products and this should be the guiding force for start-ups. Branding is more value-based unlike marketing which makes branding a more substantial exercise. A lot of start-ups fail to understand the importance of branding which affects their positioning and their perception in the market.

Start-ups must, therefore, focus on creating a balance and must incorporate both marketing and branding techniques effectively without relying on one technique alone excessively.