Marketing vs Branding: How to Keep Them Straight

Ah, branding and marketing. Two buzzwords that many people tend to confuse with one another, and sometimes even use as synonyms. If your field of work involves anything under the vast umbrella of ‘marketing,’ you know firsthand how frustrating it can be. You have to not only remember the difference between marketing and branding, but explain it to clients in terms they can understand. Many experts compare it to the chicken/egg conundrum, because there’s overlap in the definitions and debate about which comes first. The truth is neither can work without the other. However, there are key differences that distinguish the two. Both are equally important in building a successful brand when used strategically.


So, what is the difference between branding and marketing? Let’s first start with some general definitions.
Marketing refers to the tangible actions taken to get your brand’s name and product out there. To dive a little deeper, marketing is the process of using sales strategies and campaigns. Think of it as anything that purposefully and meaningfully promotes your business to audiences. The key part of this that differentiates it from branding is the sales driving aspect. Sales is the main motivation of marketing something, it sets goals and aims for people to buy within an established timeframe.
Branding, on the other hand, is your company’s identity. The importance of branding is shown in the ongoing story that you are telling about who you are, and why anyone should care about what you’re selling. A common branding example is a company’s slogan or mission statement, like Uber’s “move the way you want,” or Nike’s “just do it.”

creating brand

How They Work Together

When considering branding vs marketing, many business owners still mistakenly believe branding is just an optional addition that can support marketing strategies. But nowadays, you can’t get by with a lazy brand identity if you want to drive maximum sales. If you’re a new company, you should be working especially hard to establish your brand. Creating influential and effective marketing campaigns requires a noticeable brand, so many experts agree branding comes first. When you’re creating brand awareness, or trying to build a brand, it’s helpful to have a mission statement that acts as a north star.

Brand Personality

What is a company’s brand? If a potential customer is asking this about your company, you’ve already done something wrong. They should get a clear idea by your website, your social media presence, and how all your marketing ties in to your brand’s personality. Your brand’s message should permeate and rule all your business processes. A lot of modern consumers like to feel good about the company they’re buying from, what their story and intent is. This is exactly why brand is important. If they like what you’re telling them about you, it creates brand loyalty, which is above all the end goal. On the other hand, brands with scandals or bad reputations always suffer in sales as a result. Everything you convey matters, and it should be an ongoing, company-wide effort.

marketing vs branding

Marketing vs Branding

Once a brand is established, it’s easier to decide what aspects of marketing, particularly digital marketing and advertising nowadays, will make the most sense in advertising your product. ‘Advertising’ is another general term that gets thrown in. It can confuse people when talking about branding and marketing strategy and the difference between them. Advertising is designed to enhance a company image; it can be looked at as the specific methods that tie your branding in with your marketing campaigns. Advertising and publicity are components of a company’s image, which in turn drives revenue.
Many users express frustration with the constant ads that are slowly but surely becoming an unavoidable part of scrolling through social media. While advertising doesn’t have to be aggressive to work, it is no secret that social media is a huge driver of traffic and sales in return.
But how does marketing help a business? As mentioned in the definition, marketing drives sales through provenly effective tools such as SEO, social media, PPC, local search, and mobile. Additionally, it can also include other traditional promotional methods like billboard or subway ads. Businesses that do not use the marketing concept, or don’t fully understand it, will simply not see as many sales or public awareness of their product. Marketing tries to get as many audiences attention as possible, but the purpose of most campaigns is to reach certain audiences, such as ones you don’t have yet.
If nothing else, here’s the key thing to remember. When thinking of marketing vs branding, marketing strategies come and go as deadlines and targets pass, whereas branding is forever.

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