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Brand Strategy vs Marketing Strategy | Sypnotic

Brand Strategy vs Marketing Strategy | Answered in 3 minutes

Solving the Brand Strategy vs Marketing Strategy debate is essential to understanding why “Brand” is a concept that gets always (and wrongfully) associated with Marketing. First of all, the basics:

  • Strategy is about identifying a problem, making the resources available to solve, and establishing a policy-driven approach to solving them.
  • Tactics are about enforcing the strategy through direct action or confrontation.

Nevertheless, this premise is too hazy for us to be able to distinguish the two.

So let’s start by defining each separately.

Let’s Talk Brand | Brand Strategy vs Marketing Strategy

To end the Brand Strategy vs Marketing Strategy debate, we need to start high-level.

As described in our “What’s Brand Strategy?” article, Brand Strategy is the high science of influencing the customer’s perception to gain a competitive advantage. We, the Brand Strategists, do that by finding out the answers to 3 key questions:
What do you do, who do you do it for, and why does it matter?

These may look trivial but if you sit down with your leadership team and try to answer them, you’ll find out that there’s a lack of consensus between you: That is one of the symptoms companies show when they lack Brand Strategy, and the answer to those 3 simple questions is so difficult to uncover that companies need a professional to find them.

Out of the 3 questions, the third one is particularly important because it’s related to differentiation: One of the pillars of Brand Strategy is the awareness that, if you are not differentiated from the infinite number of competitors in your market, every effort you undertake to promote yourself is actually promoting them just as much.

The second pillar is the customer: In Brand Strategy, we put your customers at the heart of your business. We uncover how they think, what they feel, how they behave, who influences them and where they dream to go. We then find out your core truth, and we meet your audience in the middle so that you can serve them more, serve them better and beat your competitors.

In a nutshell, through Brand Strategy you will discover:

  • Who you are
  • What you stand for
  • Where you’re headed
  • What impact you have
  • Who is your ideal customer
  • What are their needs, pains & goals
  • How you can communicate with them
  • What will your company culture be like
  • Why your customers should choose you
  • Why future employees should choose you
  • Where are you better than your competitors

Now, the Brand Strategy vs Marketing Strategy conversation won’t end unless we define the second, too:

Brand Strategy vs Marketing Strategy

What about Marketing? | Brand Strategy vs Marketing Strategy

According to Michael Baker, Marketing strategy is an organization’s promotional efforts to allocate its resources across a wide range of platforms and channels to increase its sales and achieve sustainable competitive advantage within its corresponding market.
(Source: “The Strategic Marketing Plan Audit”).

According to Wikipedia, “strategic marketing mainly concerns the choice of policies aimed at improving the competitive position of the firm, taking account of the challenges and opportunities proposed by the competitive environment. On the other hand, managerial marketing is focused on the implementation of specific targets.”

My favorite definition, however, comes from Philip Kotler: Marketing Strategy is the process to create, communicate, and deliver value to a target market at a profit.

These definitions, specifically Kotler’s, play a key role in clarifying the Brand Strategy vs Marketing Strategy feud.
According to what we just saw, Marketing Strategy is:

  • Promotional
  • Sales-focused
  • Value-oriented
  • Resource-mindful
  • Backed by positioning

All of these are tactical instances.
Remember, Strategy is concerned with the direction of the business and its overall success. Tactics, instead, impact how the business approaches specific win-or-lose situations such as advertising campaigns, content creation, outreach initiatives, sales interactions and hiring interviews. 

The Difference | Brand Strategy vs Marketing Strategy

Brand Strategy is audience-based, difference-driven, business-encompassing, and culture-shaping.
Marketing Strategy is promotional, sales-focused, value-oriented and resource-mindful.

Brand Strategy determines the positioning.
Marketing Strategy communicates it.

Brand Strategy studies the audience.
Marketing Strategy uses that knowledge to approach it.

Brand Strategy shapes the corporate culture.

Marketing Strategy makes sure the talent knows about it.
And that’s it, that’s the end of the Brand Strategy vs Marketing Strategy debate.

However, there is one thing that should come to mind when you consider things from this point of view:
If marketing is so tactical, why is there even such a thing as Marketing “Strategy”?

My answer to you is that I have been growing skeptical of assigning that word to Marketing, there is Brand Strategy and there are Marketing Plans but, in my view, there is no such thing as a Marketing Strategy, for everything marketers use to devise, create and execute their initiatives is informed by Brand Strategy.

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