Branding vs Marketing: The Strategic Difference

Branding vs marketing, marketing vs branding.

Though many think splitting the difference is semantics and it’s like asking whether the chicken or the egg came first… it’s far from it.

Although branding and marketing share overarching goals and often work in tandem to achieve them, both Branding and Marketing each have distinct roles and individual goals.

By the end of this article, you won’t just understand the difference between the two, but you’ll be able to explain it clearly to clients and colleagues alike.

Branding vs Marketing header
Branding vs Marketing header

Branding vs marketing, marketing vs branding.

Though many think splitting the difference is semantics and it’s like asking whether the chicken or the egg came first… it’s far from it.

Although branding and marketing share overarching goals and often work in tandem to achieve them, both Branding and Marketing each have distinct roles and individual goals.

By the end of this article, you won’t just understand the difference between the two, but you’ll be able to explain it clearly to clients and colleagues alike.

Branding vs Marketing
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What Is Branding?

Branding vs Marketing billboards

OK, I really don’t want to, but I’ll start with what it’s not.

It’s not your logo. It’s not your purpose, your position, your personality, message, story or promise.

It’s also not the creation, development or design of the elements that make up your visual brand. I.e. “branding” is not the designing of your logo.

Branding is a set of short and long-term expressions of the brand to attract and nurture the target audience to become and remain customers.

It does this by shaping their perceptions of the brand.

Definition Of Branding

Branding vs Marketing billboards1

Branding is the act of expressing a brand in the market.

This includes all promotion messaging (marketing) as well as long-term non-promotional messaging.

In other words, when you are “branding” you’re expressing everything your brand represents from its differentiation strategy to its personality to its purpose whether that’s visually, verbally or otherwise.

When you post a tweet you’re “branding”.

When you launch your new website you’re “branding”,

When you tell a story you’re “branding”.

When you send out emails you’re “branding”.

What Is Marketing?

Branding vs Marketing doritos

Marketing makes up the collection of activities and tactics brands use to place their messages into the market with the goal of influencing the audience to buy.

Marketing is more focused on sales than branding and is based on a shorter timeframe. It almost always has a call to action to buy or to step towards a buy.

Definition Of Marketing

Branding vs Marketing flyers

Marketing is the act of promoting a brand in the market to drive sales.

In other words,

Search Engine Optimisation is “marketing”

Social Advertising is “marketing”

Content Promotion is “marketing”

Promotional Emails are “marketing”

Which Comes First: Marketing or Branding?

Branding vs Marketing myth

Because marketing drives sales and provides the initial traction for the brand, you could be forgiven for thinking that marketing comes first.

However, the messages that makes up the marketing stem directly from the brand and the brand strategy.

Marketing only comes into play after the brand has been built with a clear brand strategy in place to guide brand expression.

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The Difference Between
Branding And Marketing Strategy

Branding vs Marketing difference

Brand strategy and marketing strategy both share similar goals but how they’re developed and the end product of each are different.

What Is Brand Strategy?

Branding vs Marketing crowd

Brand strategy is the plan of brand expression and developing the brand strategy (or having the brand strategy developed) is one of the first tasks of the business owner after they have developed their business plan.

Unfortunately, most business owners overlook this and go straight to marketing once they’ve had a logo designed.

The brand strategy sets the foundation and subsequent building blocks of what the brand represents.

Beginning with who the business aims to serve, the brand is developed as a strategic entity that expresses the brand messages.

These messages and their expressions are designed to shape the perception of the brand in the mind of the audience to ultimately influence a long-term relationship.

Brand strategy wants more than a transaction.

Brand strategy wants a relationship.

Only when a brand strategy reaches its vision does it achieve its goal.

What Is Marketing Strategy?

Branding vs Marketing graph

Marketing strategy is the plan of brand promotion or activation, which is developed on the back of the brand strategy.

The brand strategy including audience research, positioning, personality, brand voice, messaging, storytelling and visuals provide the tools for the execution of the marketing strategy.

Although the marketing strategy is the front line of the brand, without the tools of the brand strategy it has no direction.

Marketing strategy wants a transaction.

When it achieves enough of them, it achieves its goal.

When Is Marketing Not Branding?

Branding vs Marketing sell

Marketing always falls under the banner of branding because it is part of the expression of the brand.

Though marketing has many campaigns and operates on many media platforms, all instances of marketing are instances of brand messaging.

In other words, marketing is never “not branding”.

When Is Branding Not Marketing?

Branding vs Marketing package

Though marketing always falls under the banner of branding, the opposite is not true.

There are many instances of brand expression that do not fall under the banner of marketing.

Any form of fulfillment (i.e. messages after the sale) are not “marketing” messages but are certainly “branding” messages.

Does this mean that Marketing is sales and branding is customer support?

No, as there are many examples of pre-sale messages that make up branding including:

Sequences

Ongoing content

Packaging

Brand experiences

Product Trials

The Goals Of Branding And Marketing

Branding vs Marketing target

One of the reasons its so difficult to separate branding and marketing is because of the overarching goal they share.

Marketing and branding both aim to attract customers to a business to ultimately grow that business.

If there are no new leads and customers aren’t finding the business then both the marketing and branding efforts are failing.

Splitting The Difference Between
Branding VS Marketing

Branding vs Marketing divide

Branding vs marketing is not a comparison that’s going away anytime soon.

The crossover in goals, the shares responsibility and the nature of their audience interactions mean they will always be compared and confused.

But as brand managers, leaders and builders, it’s our job to set the record straight.

It’s our job to articulate and explain the nature of each to anyone with their hands on our brands.

If they don’t know, then how can they direct the brand?

What is your role in brand building and how are you shaping the understanding of branding around you?

I’ll love to hear from you.

Let me know now in the comments below!

Conclusion

Branding vs marketing is not a comparison that’s going away anytime soon.

The crossover in goals, the shares responsibility and the nature of their audience interactions mean they will always be compared and confused.

But as brand managers, leaders and builders, it’s our job to set the record straight.

It’s our job to articulate and explain the nature of each to anyone with their hands on our brands.

If they don’t know, then how can they direct the brand?

What is your role in brand building and how are you shaping the understanding of branding around you?

I’ll love to hear from you.

Let me know now in the comments below.