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Branding and Marketing: What’s the Difference?

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If you’re thinking about starting a business, you’ll need your own brand, and you’ll also need to market your products or services. But figuring out the difference between branding and marketing can be tricky. There’s definitely overlap between the two, but they’re not the same—and you need to know the difference if you want to build a successful business.

In this post, I’ll talk about how branding and marketing differ, and how they work hand-in-hand!

What Is Branding?

Before we can discuss the difference between branding and marketing, we need to lay some groundwork—and we’ll start with branding.

So what exactly is a brand? It can be a tricky thing to define, but think of it as your business’ unique personality combined with the way the world perceives that personality.

As Pat writes in the SPI Beginner’s Guide to Branding: A brand is the idea, image or feeling that people have when they use or think about specific products. It’s who you are, who you want to serve, and what people perceive you to be.

Your brand is the foundation of your company. It’s who you are.

We live in a world of brands, whether we’re always aware of it or not. And some brands stand out above others, occupying a special place in many people’s minds. (You may even have a few favorite brands of your own!)

Think of iconic brands like Nike, Toms Shoes, Trader Joe’s, Disney, Tesla, and LEGO. These are brands that immediately bring to mind specific ideas and images. Most of us could probably readily identify what makes these brands stand out and what they stand for:

  • Nike = Empowerment (“Just do it!”)
  • Toms Shoes = Altruism (“We ‘stand’ on issues that matter”)
  • Trader Joe’s = Good food that’s fun to buy (Cookie Butter, anyone?)
  • Disney = Quality family entertainment (Creating happiness through magical experiences)
  • Tesla = Innovative electric cars with great design (that will save the environment)
  • LEGO = Innovative building blocks that encourage creativity in kids (and adults!)

Each of the products we use every day has a distinct brand “personality.” When we use those products, it conjures certain ideas and emotions, whether we realize it or not.

But creating this kind of impact with your brand isn’t automatic. Cultivating a brand personality that resonates with your target audience doesn’t just happen on its own. A company or person has to establish and cultivate their brand, to find out what their audience wants and how their products or services stand out from the competition’s.

We’ll talk more about how to start creating your brand identity in a moment. But let’s first cover the crucial difference between branding and marketing, so you can conceptualize how the two work together.

What’s the Difference between Branding and Marketing?

As we’ve discussed, your brand is foundational. It’s who you are. As a result, everything you do as a company should grow out of your brand. That includes the language you use to talk to your customers, to the way you interact with potential clients, to (yes) your logo and website design, and much more.

We’ve talked a little about what a brand is, but let’s get a little more granular. Your brand is your (or your company’s) unique personality. It:

  • Helps customers identify you or your products 
  • Helps distinguish your or your products from the competition
  • Influences how people perceive you or your business
  • Increases the value of you or your business

Marketing, on the other hand, is a set of tools and strategies that will help you promote your products and services, including your:

  • Website
  • Social media accounts
  • Email campaigns
  • Online advertising
  • Search engine optimization (SEO)
  • Content creation and design
  • YouTube videos
  • Events
  • Etc.

Everything your company does flows from its branding. Your marketing tactics and materials, your customer service, and even how you treat your employees should reflect your brand’s personality.

How Do Branding and Marketing Work Together?

Your branding and marketing should work hand-in-hand. Marketing is the way you deliver the message of your brand personality to your audience. To help demonstrate this relationship, we’ll turn to another iconic brand, Southwest Airlines.

Branding and Marketing in Harmony: The Southwest Story

Southwest Airlines, founded in 1967, branded itself as the “love” airline in the early days. Its brand personality is empathetic, fun, and casual—and this personality comes across in everything the airline does.

While the airline is basic (no assigned or premium seats), people love to fly Southwest because they still get a great experience. Flight attendants may sing happy birthday to a passenger, offer free drink coupons, or sing the flight announcements. So the whole experience is fun, and passengers feel cared for. There are no baggage fees, and it’s free to change your flight. They also treat their employees well. (They’ve never laid off a single employee.)

Everything Southwest does, from customer service to marketing and advertising (“You Are Now Free To Move About the Country”), to how it treats its employees, reflects its brand personality. 

Similarly, your brand should be the foundation of your marketing strategy. Every piece of marketing collateral, whether it’s your website, emails, social media accounts should reflect your brand’s personality.

Let’s go back to our Southwest Airlines example. The core of their brand is “love.” They want to exude empathy and connection with their target audience. How do they convey this through their marketing?

  • The Southwest logo includes a heart symbol
  • A heart is painted on the underbelly of each plane
  • The letters LUV are the Southwest Airlines stock market symbol
  • Ads include copy like “Luv a Fare” and “Luv is Never Out of Reach”
Image copyright Southwest Airlines

You get the idea! Of course, Southwest Airlines is a big corporation, and you may be a solopreneur, or maybe you haven’t even started your business yet! 

Still, it’s a good idea to get a grasp now on your branding: Who are you serving? What problem are you helping those people solve? And how is your company different/better than the competition? If you’re clear on those three things and keep them in mind when you market your products, you’ll be well on your way to finding success.

Is all that easier said than done, though? Maybe. Getting your brand right is a big deal, so if you need a little help, read on.

How Do I Create (Or Discover) My Own Brand?

Southwest Airlines is a case study in how to succeed at branding. The company created an identity based around serving passengers who didn’t want to spend much money but wanted some fun and humanity in their flying experience. Southwest knew who they were serving, and what would make them stand out from the competition.

But many business owners struggle to create an authentic brand identity that resonates with their target audience. If you’re starting your own business, you might be feeling a bit overwhelmed at the thought of creating a brand for your business. How are you going to get your branding just right?

Never fear! We’re here to help out.

First, remember that your branding grows out of three things:

  1. Who your business is serving.
  2. What problem you’re helping them solve.
  3. How you can help your customers better and differently than anyone else.

Putting these three things front and center will help keep you on the right track!

Next, here’s a quick video where Pat will walk you through an exercise to help you determine who you’re serving, and how you’re helping them better/differently than others. 

I hope you find this video helpful! It’s from the first lesson of Build Your Own Brand, our completely free course that will help you get your brand up and running in just five days. You can also read the SPI Beginner’s Guide to Branding, to get a more in-depth understanding of branding.

Looking for Marketing Resources?

Last, but not least, if you’re looking for marketing resources, we’ve got you covered too. Visit our Digital Marketing Done Right page to find a wealth of resources on digital marketing, from in-depth guides on using webinars to build your business, to workshops and courses, plus marketing blog posts and case studies.

Take the free 5-day brand building challenge!

Build Your Own Brand is our FREE course that will help you get your brand up and running in just five days!

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The Benefits of LinkedIn Ads

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LinkedIn wouldn’t necessarily be the first platform that comes to mind when considering social media advertising. However, if you are a B2B organisation, the platform can allow you to reach professionals across the globe. LinkedIn allows you to generate brand awareness across targeted professional sectors and reach out to decision makers directly.

Advertising is all about targeting the right people. Users of LinkedIn tend to be older, professional and have a higher income than the average user of other social media platforms. So if that is your target market, LinkedIn offers a great opportunity to reach them. Professionals use LinkedIn for business networking purposes so users are generally in work mode so engaging with them should be easier than on other platforms.

Here we outline the six main advantages that LinkedIn Ads have over other social media platforms.

1. Variety of ad formats

LinkedIn offers a number of options for advertising:

  • Sponsored content – this type of ad appears in people’s feeds, it is the least personal form but good for promoting content from your business page and encouraging people onto it.
  • Text ads – these are only viewable by people using a desktop. With these you can choose the audience you want to target and you only pay per click.
  • Message ads – these appear in users’ inboxes and are proven to be good for conversion.
  • Video ads – great for storytelling, you can also retarget users who have watched the video, aiding conversion rates.
  • Dynamic ads – these allow you to fully personalise your ad by showing user’s photo, name and title within the advert.

2. Generate high quality leads

The ability to target professionals and gain good quality leads is the primary benefit of LinkedIn ads. Users are looking at work-related content so will be more open to solutions for their business needs.

With more than 800 million users in over 220 countries and territories, LinkedIn is the biggest social network for professionals and businesses alike. 4 out of 5 LinkedIn members drive business decisions and the platform has been rated the best for lead generation by marketers.

By using LinkedIn advertising, you can access their Lead Accelerator feature. This feature allows businesses to follow their best prospects and offer more targeted ads directly to them. This includes remarketing to website visitors, which helps nurture leads, making them more likely to become customers.

3. Targeting

LinkedIn allows you to target specific demographics, enabling you to create much more personal advertising campaigns. Facebook lets you target interest and behaviour based factors however LinkedIn is the right medium to use if you want to target individuals based on their industry and job. You can filter your audience by:

  • Age
  • Location
  • Company name
  • Company size
  • Degree subject
  • Job title
  • Seniority
  • Industry
  • Member skills

These variables make the platform the ideal choice for B2B organisations wanting to target decision-makers.

Entrepreneurs executing on a business idea
photo credit: LinkedIn Sales Navigator / Unsplash

4. Remarketing

LinkedIn allows you to specifically target people who have shown an interest in your products. Matched audiences show you which users have visited your website and the pages that they went on. This allows you to target them with specific ads in the hope that they will return to your website and convert to a customer.

Matched audiences can be created with:

  • Account Targeting – Uploading a CSV of company names to LinkedIn allows you to target decision-makers.
  • Website Retargeting – Target the users who have visited your website and re-engage them to aid conversions.
  • Contact Targeting – Uploading a CSV of email addresses of your contacts to LinkedIn enables you to nurture your leads and prospects even further.

5. Increased conversion rates

The ability to target specific groups, nurture them and remarket to them will increase your conversion rates.

A year-long study by HubSpot found that on average, LinkedIn ads convert users to leads at a 6.1 per cent conversion rate. This compares to 2.58 per cent for Google search ads.

MD of exhibition stand contractor Black Robin Exhibits, Alan Jenkins, managed to achieve a conversion rate of 8.2% with a LinkedIn campaign earlier this year, he said “We were delighted with the results, it wasn’t a huge investment, we could set the budget and the conversion rate was fantastic”.

6. High control

A big benefit of LinkedIn advertising is the high degree of control that you can have. You can set a specific start time for your advert and specify when it will end. As well as this, you can set daily budgets to ensure your advertising costs are kept at the right level for your business.

Businessman using LinkedIn app

Conclusion

Setting up a LinkedIn campaign is not straight-forward due to the variety of advert types and different ways of targeting. But the platform has a number of advantages over other social media sites if your target market is professional businesspeople.

B2B organisations will be able to target specific demographics with personal ads, nurture and remarket to them. All this will increase conversion rates, making LinkedIn a valuable marketing tool.

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Beginners’ guide to Instagram Reels

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Get ‘Reel’ results

If you haven’t already heard the news, according to Instagram, they’re no longer a photo-sharing app. Shocking, right? The company announced they want to start focusing more on video content, like that offered through Instagram Reels, as opposed to being the original square photo-sharing app they’re known for being.

“At Instagram, we’re always trying to build new features that help you get the most out of your experience. Right now we’re focused on four key areas: Creators, Video, Shopping and Messaging.” — Adam Mosseri, Instagram CEO

This makes total sense because short, engaging videos (shown to us by hyper-accurate algorithms) have proven to keep our attention more effectively than ever before. So effectively that 93% of marketers who use video say it’s an important part of their marketing strategy. Additionally, users are twice as likely to share video content with their friends and family than any other type of content, including social media posts, blog posts/articles and product pages.

So if you’ve been hesitant to start making Instagram Reels or just needed a little encouragement, we’ll cover the basics, give you some ideas on what content to create for your business or brand, and help you understand the data behind it all.

But, before we do, let’s talk about why Instagram Reels needs to be included in your marketing strategy.
What are Reels and why should you start using them?

Person recording elephants on smartphone

Instagram Reels rolled out in late 2020 and the feature has continued to increase in popularity. Reels provide creators with a way to produce and share short, engaging videos using a collection of mainstream music and user-generated audio.

With more advanced editing tools, such as speed controls, filters and transitions, you can effortlessly edit multi-clip Reels up to 30 seconds long, entirely within the Instagram app, which is amazing if you don’t want to use multiple apps and extra equipment to film, edit and post to social media.

Reels are definitely a useful feature of the platform as a whole that is worth exploring. When it comes to metrics, Reels receive 22% more engagement than videos posted directly to a feed. In addition to IGTV, Live and Stories, Instagram Reels are another great tool for you to use to get noticed on the platform and reach potential customers.

Nearly two-thirds of Instagram users are between 18 and 29, with 18- to 34-year-olds the most active age group. That means there’s a ton of opportunity for businesses to be discovered by your target audience on this platform. So, if your Instagram strategy needs a boost to stay top-of-mind and ahead of the competition, Reels could be your solution.

Related: How to plan an Instagram marketing strategy to attract business

Instagram Reels small business content ideas

If your business is active on Instagram but hasn’t posted a Reel just yet, don’t worry, it’s not too late to start. Accounts that don’t follow you can find your content while scrolling on the Explore page, which is why it’s so important for brands to be active where their target audience is.

Don’t let lack of inspiration hold you back, here are some simple and effective video ideas:

Educational content‍

The best way to increase your reach and engagement is to give your viewers value. If you can create something that is helpful, users are more likely to like it, share it with their friends and follow you for more. That ultimately, tells the algorithm your content is worth being promoted to others on the app.

For example, you can create shareable workout, cooking or crafting videos just by showing your step-by-step process.

Showcase your products‍ or services

Highlight what makes your business unique with Reels dedicated to each product or service you offer. This could be a tutorial on how to best use your products or a way to update customers on new offerings.

Create original content‍

Easier said than done, but I know that behind-the-scenes content, user-generated content and FAQs are always a big hit with loyal audiences.

You also have a few different ways to get trending and possibly even viral. You can use trending hashtags, popular audio clips or filters and get discovered among other videos with those elements.

Re-creating a popular trend while highlighting your brand is one of the quickest (but not the easiest) ways for business growth with Instagram Reels.

How to optimize your Instagram Reels

Improvised video recording setup

Improvised video recording setup

Like with any social media platform, there are always hidden steps you can take to increase the likelihood your content gets seen and please the almighty algorithm.

For example, many users who create content for TikTok have started uploading those same videos as Reels. Seems like a logical time saver, right? Well, Instagram has not only clearly advised against re-posting content that’s “visibly recycled from other apps,” it has also updated its algorithm to recognize and prevent it from performing well on their platform.

That being said, here are some tips on how to optimize your Reels for the best results:

  1. Try to record (vertically), edit and add effects to your reels from within the app, rather than uploading a video you’ve created elsewhere.
  2. It’s also important to use text overlays, hashtags, audio, and descriptive captions to let Instagram add you to an algorithm relevant to the content.
  3. @ other accounts, when appropriate. Just like hashtags, you’ll get more reach by including their name in your content.
  4. Use custom thumbnails. Doing so will make it easier for users to find videos they want to watch when scrolling on your account. It’s also a great way to incorporate your branding and help your feed look cohesive.
  5. Sharing your Reels to your Stories and even on your feed will get more people to see it. You can share it when you post it or, if you have posted enough that day, share on a day when you don’t have anything else to post.

Algorithms are constantly changing, and not always for the better. Doing just a little bit of research to stay on top of current trends and best practices will pay off in the long run.

Related: 3 ways to use Instagram Stories for digital storytelling

Understanding Instagram Reels Insights

Bodybuilder recording workout

Bodybuilder recording workout

Finally, you’ll need a way of knowing if your hard work is paying off.

Instagram has included a dedicated tab, which is similar to the Insights tab on your static posts and videos, that details the metrics relating to your Reels. With the Instagram Reels Insights, business owners can see important metrics like accounts reached, plays, likes, comments, saves and shares.

By knowing what type of accounts you’re reaching with your Reels and which content formats are most engaging with your audience, you’ll be able to adjust your content to better serve your target audience and grow your account.

Measuring these stats is the best way to make sure all the efforts you’re putting in to engage your fans is actually working.

Once you have a good idea of where your metrics are on average, try experimenting with the time of day, type of content and hashtags you use when posting your Reels. Start thinking of ways to get in front of new users with videos like tutorials, bloopers or more user-generated content. You could even share customer testimonials or success stories for added social proof.

Final thoughts on Instagram Reels

I know I personally struggled with the idea of including yet another item on my content creation checklist, but I’ve found that even just repurposing a few old clips from videos on my YouTube channel into Reels has proved effective in increasing my engagement and reach on Instagram.

Exploring a new feature of social media can be intimidating and overwhelming at times, but Reels seems to be a fun new way to expand your social media presence through the use of short videos. I recommend testing it out and seeing how well it works for you and your audience. You might find it to be your new favorite tool in your social media strategy.



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5 Strategies to Drive Customer Engagement

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Engaging with your customers is the key to driving sales and growing your company. However, some businesses are not sure how to do this effectively. It means that when they finally manage to engage with their customers, they are not entirely sure what worked. Knowing how to drive customer engagement is all about knowing your customers.

Here are 5 strategies that you can use to drive customer engagement.

Customer engagement
photo credit: Edmond Dantès / Pexels

Communication is the Key

Communication between your company and your customers is fundamental to engagement. If your customers are trying to talk to you about your products or services, then you should listen to them. Avoiding contact will simply drive them to another company.

Here are some tips you should follow.

1. Listen to Your Customers and Never Assume

If you have a customer that approaches you on social media or any other channel, it is vital that you engage them in a conversation. Their initial message might not be the complete story, so you need to work with them to find the right answer.

Once you have found out what the customer wants, go through your products with them and pinpoint what works for them. Your sales team must never assume that they know what their customers want, or they might find the customer goes elsewhere.

2. Seek Help with Engagement

Sometimes no matter what you try, you are unable to engage with your customers or retain them. It may be that there are strategies that you haven’t considered or lack the knowledge to implement.

This is where companies such as TCC Global can help. By helping you and your marketing team to engage with your customers and create brand loyalty, you can start to grow your business.

3. Respond Quickly to Questions

There is nothing more frustrating for customers than asking a question on social media and not getting a reply. Even a delay of a few hours can be enough to cause someone to look elsewhere.

If your business has a presence on social media, then it is vital that it is monitored at least during business hours.

Selling to existing customers

4. Chat to Your Customers

There is a temptation to use your means of communication to just sell products. While this is an important part, there should also be more customer engagement through conversation.

If you find something interesting, tell your customers on social media. Reply to them if they answer you and keep the conversation going.

5. Blog About the Popular Questions

If you are seeing a trend in questions your customers are asking, then it may be a good idea to write a blog post about it.

Blog posts will drive visitors and potential customers to your website and from there they may go to your products. Answering these popular questions will also save time for your customers and build loyalty.

Conclusion

So, there you have it – 5 strategies to drive customer engagement. These are just a few of the ways your company can build a relationship with its customers and build a loyal following.

It is important to remember to stay engaged with your customers even after they make a purchase.

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