Marketing vs. Branding: What's the Difference?

Stephanie Theisen
Last updated by Stephanie Theisen

Marketing versus Branding: What's the Difference?Making an impact consumers will notice is much like raising a child – in many cases, it takes a village, or at least a lot of hard work and dedication from everyone in the company. Establishing a brand often relies on marketing, and creating influential, actionable marketing campaigns requires a noticeable brand. So, when it comes to marketing vs. branding, what is the difference? Here’s how the similarities and differences impact a marketing strategy.

What Is Branding?

Branding is your identity. Branding is what defines your company and sets it apart from your competitors. When accomplished properly, a brand fully explains who your company is, what it does, and what it is seeking to accomplish. In essence, a brand is your reason for being, the reputation, and concept that drives sales while influences buyers. A brand comes first; it is the initial concept your customers see, the impression they are left with when a sale is complete, and the value they are offered during the transaction. Your brand doesn't attempt to sell your business; it is your business, from start to finish.

What Is Marketing?

If branding comes first, marketing comes second. When a brand is well established, a company has an identity to sell to consumers, a concept that is worth the attention. While a brand stands on its own, marketing seeks to push it forward, emphasizing the products and services available in a way that encourages potential customers to make a move. The brand is the message, but the marketing is how you communicate the message. As a form of advertising, marketing creates a framework upon which consumers will want to buy. By communicating your brand to your customers, you can combine the backbone that supports your company with a message that inspires a sale or forms a relationship.

The Differences between Marketing and Branding

There are many differences between marketing and branding, most notably in function. Branding defines who you are and what value your company has to offer and marketing “sells” it to customers. Marketing seeks immediate results, prompting a customer to buy, register, or act now, while branding is a slower build up, a long-term strategy that adds value to everything your business does. Marketing campaigns often shift in time, focusing on new and different products and taking alternate perspectives on the same topic. Short of a re-branding strategy, your brand should stand the test of time, continuing the deliver on the same promises to your customers no matter what you are selling or offering. You cannot create a brand by yourself; unlike marketing, which is largely internal, customer input and perception are big parts of brand identity.

The Similarities between Marketing and Branding

Despite their differences, marketing and branding share several similarities. Both marketing and branding are intended to add value for customers, creating a reason to buy, use, or share what your company has to offer. Without a strong brand identity, a marketing plan will fail, and without a compelling marketing campaign, no one will care about your brand. While the two concepts are distinctly different, they also work as one, influencing purchase decisions and providing information. Both marketing and branding speak to customers, even if they're saying something different.

Branding and marketing are not the same, but they do work hand in hand to move your business forward. When your branding is effective, your marketing is more likely to be effective, and vice versa. No matter how you choose to approach your marketing and branding, commit to your strategy and see it through. When accomplished properly, there is great potential for the progression of your company in both, prompting customers to use your services today and come back for more tomorrow.

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