Brand Strategy vs. Marketing Strategy

Brand Strategy vs marketing strategy – these two concepts are directly related, but often confused. We’re regularly asked to explain the difference between brand strategy and marketing strategy, so we thought we would share a few thoughts on the topic.


Brand Strategy


The idea of “brand” is often used to describe marketing. Brand “management” responsibilities are often given to the marketing team, and the campaigns that they create are frequently considered “brand” activities because they are the vehicle that delivers parts of the brand message to potential customers. Brand is not marketing. Your brand is the holistic reputation of your company, product, or service. It consists of many parts – one of which is marketing. Other equally important parts of your brand are product, sales, and customer service.


Your brand strategy should clearly define your company’s purpose, vision, DNA, position, value, and customer so that your team can make clear, unified and focused decisions to help grow your business. It should focus on the big picture, but include an actionable mission that aligns with your short, mid, and long term business goals.


A well-defined, focused strategy will position your company for long term growth by…

• Clearly defining its position in the market and the value it provides to new and existing customers
• Creating a consistent message increasing brand awareness and customer trust
• Helping align departments for better cross-function communication (Executive/Sales/Marketing/Product)
• Establishing concrete guidelines for better decision making, budget planning, and time management
• Identifying opportunities and prioritising initiatives, optimising time and financial investments


Marketing Strategy


Your marketing strategy is a function of your brand strategy and overarching business plan. It outlines the tactics you will use to communicate your key messages to your ideal customers. This can include your content strategy, digital marketing, campaign development, social strategy, advertising, PR, retail marketing, etc.


Your marketing strategy is the vehicle that delivers your tailored customer-facing brand message. Your marketing strategy and tactics can change based on customer data, success of campaigns, technology, trends, budget, etc.


Your brand strategy is the cornerstone of your overall business plan. It is your roadmap guiding you to your destination. It only changes if your destination does. There can often be confusion about the difference between a business strategy, a brand strategy and a marketing strategy. Here we define what each one is and explore the relationship between them.


Business strategy


A business or organisational strategy details a firm’s vision, mission and long-term objectives. The organisational objectives form the heart of the strategy. However, a complete strategy also prioritises those objectives and describes specifically how the firm plans to achieve them – while competing successfully in the market and optimising financial performance. The strategy should also cover the resources that will be needed to deliver it.


Business strategy considers many things, including market structure and competitors, entry and exit barriers, market segmentation, market trends, organisational scale, spread and structure, organisational agility, organisational culture, product/service portfolio, branding and differentiation, IP, business model, distribution channels, supply and demand, sources of revenue, cost structure, cash flow, technology, strategic partnerships and the keys to success.


The strategies proposed should reflect the organisation’s strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats, as well as its competitors and the market.


Brand expression


The purpose of a brand strategy is to enable, express and bring the business strategy to life. Therefore, branding is the expression of the essence of an organisation, product, or service – its reason for being. Branding communicates the characteristics, values and attributes that the organisation or product stands for, how it is positioned differently to competitors, and why a customer would buy it.


It clearly outlines a brand’s unique characteristics, values and attributes. It consists of the brand positioning – the unique, relevant, credible and sustainable position in the market that it owns – along with the brand story, values, personality and brand tone of voice. It should also include the employee value proposition (EVP), which is closely linked to your brand. If there are multiple brands, it may include a brand architecture framework and brand portfolio strategy. And if there are multiple brand audiences, it may also include customer value propositions (CVPs).




Once an organisation has defined its brand strategy, it will need to define how it takes the brand to market. Here is where the marketing strategy comes into play. A marketing strategy is shaped both by business strategy and brand strategy and defines the tactics that actively promote and sell a product or service.


Whereas branding is strategic, marketing is more tactical and is about putting the right product/service in the right place, at the right price, at the right time. A marketing strategy typically answers the following questions for a product or service:

• Who are its customers?
• Who are its competitors?
• What makes it stand out in the market?
• Which market trends can be taken advantage of?
• What are its strengths and weaknesses and what are the opportunities and threats?
• What initiatives and programs can be used to promote it and take advantage of its strengths and the available opportunities, mitigate its weaknesses and minimise the threats?


The crossovers of business, brand and marketing


As highlighted above, there are several crossovers between business strategy, brand strategy and marketing strategy. Here are a few examples:


• Mission, vision and values are closely related to brand positioning.
• Organisational culture also aligns strongly to brand.
• The competitive environment, market structure, market segments and target customers are fundamentally important to all of these strategies.
• Competitive strategy links business strategy to brand strategy.
• Business model strategy, brand strategy and marketing strategy must all consider pricing strategy.
• All three strategies must consider market trends to be viable in the long run.

Branding precedes and underlies marketing efforts. It’s a pull tactic – a brand creates customers predisposed to buying a product or service and supports marketing.

All marketing initiatives and campaigns should reinforce and support the brand positioning.


How do we ensure these three strategies integrate and align?


To create effective integration between business, brand and marketing strategy, consider:


• The sequencing of these strategic plans. Business strategy comes first, closely followed by brand strategy, and then marketing strategy.
• Business strategy → brand strategy → marketing strategy and plan
• Brand can be used to rally an organisation around its high-level strategies, so it can be helpful for brand positioning and strategy work to closely follow the creation of the business strategy.
• Brand strategy should be created at a senior level within the organisation so that it is created by those who understand the business, business model and competitive strategy and the rationale behind them very well.
• Ensure the marketing team has the following qualities: strategic thinking, creativity, analytical ability and strong program management/execution discipline. These qualities are all important for creating a marketing strategy that links to business and brand strategy, for implementing marketing strategy, and for ongoing brand management.


Therefore, it is not a case of brand strategy vs marketing strategy, but in fact, brand strategy and marketing strategy. The seamless integration of the two to produce your overall business strategy.


If you would like to learn more, get in touch.


+44 (0)1925 228000

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