It can be hard to keep track of all the buzzwords floating around the world of business. Of all of them, marketing and branding probably have the biggest tendency to get lumped together.

The truth is, they are two very different concepts. And you cannot effectively use them if you don’t understand the differences between the two.

Definitions of Branding and Marketing

Marketing is what a company does to get people to buy their services or products. It is a set of strategies, processes, and tools businesses use to promote their services, products, or themselves. Marketing can include traditional promotional methods, PPC, SEO, social media, mobile, and local search.

Branding defines who you are as a business. It is the message that rules and permeates every process of your company. It is your values, your mission, your differentiating factor. It is the culture itself.

Marketing will earn you customers, but branding will turn them into fans. Other reasons why branding is important include better brand recognition, increased brand value, and boosted employee pride and satisfaction. 

Differences Between Branding and Marketing

The biggest misconception out there is that branding equals marketing and advertising. Not only are they different concepts, but marketing goes way deeper. You use branding to actively shape your brand, while you use marketing primarily to promote your products or services.

However, companies also use marketing to communicate their brand’s message and personality. So, even though they are different, marketing and branding are tied together.

You own your marketing efforts, you don’t own your brand.

Interestingly, while you are the one who creates your products or services and defines how you will market your company, you are not the ultimate authority on your brand—your customers are.

How people perceive your brand is what ultimately defines your brand. If you don’t want others to take your brand the wrong way, you need to be very careful when defining your brand values. Even though the customers are the “owners” of your brand, you are still the one who sets the guidelines your business will follow and live by.

Branding comes first, marketing comes second.

You can’t really market a brand you don’t have, so branding always comes first. You can start thinking about marketing only after you discover what your core values are and how you will communicate them to your target audience.

Branding drives loyalty and recognition, marketing drives sales.

When a company wants to drive sales, they use marketing strategies, such as content marketing and SEO. Branding, on the other hand, is a more long term approach.

This doesn’t mean branding won’t help you increase your revenue. According to Fundera, 43% of consumers spend more money on brands they are loyal to.

While branding doesn’t immediately deliver tangible results, it fosters customer loyalty and drives positive brand sentiment and recognition. So, in the long run, it will boost your ability to drive sales.

Marketing grabs the consumer’s attention, branding keeps their attention.

You are just one business in a sea of competitors, no matter what your niche is. You need marketing to grab the attention of your target audience. Once you have their attention, you need branding to keep it.

You need to give customers something they will hold onto. People prefer to do business with brands they believe in. By developing a proper brand strategy, you will give them something they can stand behind.

Marketing tools and strategies can change, but branding is forever.

Naturally, you’ll need to actively market your company if you want it to prosper. But every marketing tactic has its beginning and its end. Some of your marketing strategies will change over time, and some will even become obsolete.

Branding is different. You will always be working on shaping your brand’s perception among consumers and maintaining a deep and meaningful relationship with your customer base—no matter at what stage your company is.

Branding the Right Way

Now that you know the key difference between marketing and branding, it’s time to start working on building a strong brand.

Unearth Your Purpose

First, you need to establish why you do what you do. This task may seem simple at first, but finding the right answers isn’t always easy. The following questions will help you get to the root purpose:

  • Why did you build your company?
  • Why do you want to help out your target audience?
  • Why does it matter to you that these things get done?

Choose Your Voice and Personality

Ask yourself, “What is my brand?” after you figure out why you do what you do. The answer to this question will be the skeleton to which you will attach your brand messages, values, and ideas. Be sure to ask yourself:

  • How do I want others to perceive my brand? Do I want my brand to be formal and corporate, approachable and casual, etc.?
  • What kind of voice do I want my brand to have?
  • As my business grows, will I be able to stay true to this brand identity?

Your customers will be looking for a consistent brand identity, so the last question is particularly important. You will earn loyal customers by staying true to your brand.

Communicate Your Brand to Your Target Audience

Once you define your brand and its values, you need to decide how you will build brand awareness. This is where marketing comes in.

Market research and analysis, in combination with the previous steps, will largely determine how and where you will communicate your brand to consumers. When planning communication strategies, consider the following:

  • Your mission statement (you can use your brand’s purpose to create your company’s mission statement).
  • How your customers will benefit from your company.
  • The appropriate media for your chosen platforms.
  • Your CTA (Call to Action)—What are your objectives? How will you entice your target audience?


Marketing and branding are not the same. But, although they are different, the two are interlinked. Your brand must be at the core of your marketing strategy.

Branding is not something you do just once. It’s a constant effort that permeates the development of your company, its processes, and its culture. And, to get your brand in front of your target audience, you need to develop the right marketing strategies.