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Business vs Brand vs Marketing Strategy: Similarity and Differences

You might not realize it yet, but your business strategy that forms the centering element of your business plan also guides your brand strategy and marketing strategy. All three function as part of strategic plans that guide your company. Each complements the other. The brand strategy provides an outgrowth of business strategy that focuses on customer experience and building reputation. You need all three for effective and productive marketing. Let's look at how they work together.

Business Strategy: Defining the Business

A business strategy addresses five questions to define the mission, vision, goals, and framework for achieving those goals as well as defining the target audience of ideal customers. Your business strategy must address these five questions:

  • Why did you create the business?

  • What are the core strengths or main selling points of the business?

  • Who is your target audience or ideal customer?

  • Which offers would provide the best outcome for both your customers and your bottom line?

  • How will this strategic framework help you achieve goals and meet business objectives?

More than a segment of your marketing, this core piece of your business plan helps you create value for your business, attract the best employees, win over customers, and earn market share. It guides your entire business and business decision-making process. Your competition research and analysis, vision statement, mission statement, strategic plan, tactical plans, and performance review criteria and the reviews themselves comprise the body of this document. Your brand strategy and marketing strategy fall within the business strategy.

Branding Strategy: Communicating the Business's Brand

Depending on the number of brands within a company, a single business might have many brands, therefore multiple brand strategies. Within a single brand, there may be many products. For example, the corporation L'Oreal owns the brand Maybelline, which produces many products, including Great Lash mascara.

A brand strategy defines the personality of the brand, which may differ from the personality of the parent company. It also provides the methods by which the company will communicate the brand's personality. The goal of brand marketing centers around linking personality, values, and identity in personalized communications that educate and convert your audience. Think of its as if your products sit on shelves on the mainland, but your customers live on an island. Your brand and its strategy become the thing that links them – a bridge to connect the customers with your products.

Your brand strategy relies on a few core pieces of your business strategy, including:

  • vision statement,

  • mission statement,

  • target audience.

Marketing Strategy: Reaching Consumers Regarding Brand and Business

A business's marketing strategy defines how it reaches consumers and converts them to customers. It also draws from the business strategy, including its value proposition, brand message, and target audience. A marketing strategy builds on the two other strategies though by focusing on the four Ps of marketing:

  • product,

  • place,

  • price,

  • promotion.

The marketing strategy provides a main piece of the marketing plan. While the plan gets updated annually, the strategies should last longer than that. These big-picture statements guide the plan and its nitty-gritty. The plan itself consists also of goals, milestones, campaigns and identifies tools and platforms for use. It encompasses public relations and advertising. A business will have marketing strategies for each brand and for the overall business.

What is the difference between brand strategy and business strategy?

Both provide a strategic plan to further the business in consumer reach. There's a perception among many executives that business strategy is strategic, and a brand strategy is a marketing tool – and not a strategic asset. As a result, businesses set ambitious goals, but don't consider how investing in and developing a brand strategy could help get them there. Since the brand strategy guides the marketing strategy but is developed from the business strategy, each provides an important piece in the business's efforts to pierce its target audience and earn market share.

What's the difference between brand and marketing strategy?

Rather than branding versus marketing, it's more like branding and marketing. While branding communicates who you are—marketing decides how you build awareness. Think of branding as your strategy, while marketing encompasses your tactical goals. In order to determine who your brand is, you need to ask yourself the main branding questions and answer them honestly.

It may be easier to understand thinking of it in terms of personal brand. Branding is knowing yourself, but marketing communicates the personality traits that make you who you are. A business works the same way. The business has its own personality built from its founders, their vision and mission, its employees, their company culture, the products, and the quality with which they're created. Ford did a superb job communicating its mission and values in its 1980s slogan, "Quality is job one." Its overseas competitor Toyota similarly conveyed its mission and vision to consumers with its tagline, "The best-built cars in the world." Both of these examples show the use of elements from the business strategy and plan in the brand strategy conveyed via the slogan, a core piece of the marketing plan.

Three Complementary Strategies

Your business needs all three strategies to succeed. First, create your business strategy, which guides your brand strategy and marketing strategy. Your brand strategy and business strategy complement each other. Brand strategy is a big part of the business strategy since it focuses on customer experience and building reputation. It's also the first step in having effective and productive marketing. Your marketing plan contains your marketing strategies, which help you reach your customer base. Your business cannot succeed without all three strategies in place and working in concert.


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