Branding vs. marketing? These are two different but intertwined concepts geared towards taking your business to the next level.

According to marketing and leadership expert Seth Godin, “A brand is the set of expectations, memories, stories, and relationships that, taken together, account for a consumer’s decision to choose one product or service over another.” 

What about marketing? It’s about how you sell your product or service. Brian Halligan, CEO and co-founder of HubSpot, says, “It’s not what you sell that matters as much as how you sell it.” Let’s dig deeper into the topic to reveal the difference between branding and marketing, their goals, and interconnectedness. 

What Is Branding?

Branding vs. Marketing

What is a brand? A brand isn’t just the name of your company. Specifically, it represents a set of features that distinguish your company from its competitors and contribute to its recognizability. 

Branding is about your mission, values, and features that make your company special and unique. It’s a marketing practice representing the process of developing a strong and positive perception of your company in the customer’s mind. 

By creating and applying a distinctive feature or set of features to your company, you get consumers to associate your brand with your products or services. This way, you shape your brand and define your company. Branding is an interactive process that requires getting in touch with your customers. 

Branding Examples

Branding is made possible by using a logo, design, mission statement, and a consistent theme throughout your marketing communications. More specifically, branding lies at the core of your marketing strategy. 

For instance, tweeting and launching a new website apply to branding. Nike is an excellent branding example. The company uses an iconic slogan, “Just Do It,” which represents the core of its brand: inspiring athletes to be conquerors and keep moving forward. The company’s famous logo representing motion and speed incorporates this idea. 

Branding is used both externally and internally. More particularly, besides giving identity to your company, branding supports your marketing and makes your employees proud of your business. In addition, it guides your company’s day-to-day operations. 

You can apply a brand audit to determine your strengths and weaknesses. A brand audit is a detailed analysis that reviews your company’s performance and market positioning.

The most common types of brands include:

  • Corporate brand: the philosophy that a business uses to present itself to the world and its own employees.
  • Personal brand: is used for an individual instead of a whole business. For example, when a thought leader positions himself or herself as an expert in business and marketing.
  • Product brand: used for making a single product distinct and memorable. For example, Red Bull energy drinks.
  • Service brand: when a business delivers world-class service to provide value to their customers. For example, some companies offer excellent customer service that becomes synonymous with their brand.

To protect your brand, you can register a trademark. The latter is a word, symbol, design, or phrase denoting a specific product and making it stand out from all other products of its kind. A trademark gives legal differentiation to your product or service and identifies it as belonging to your company

What Is Marketing?

Marketing represents the network of tools, processes, and strategies you use to connect with your customers and promote the buying or selling of your product or service. It includes advertising, selling, and product delivery. 

Specifically, marketing finds the target consumers for your product or service by identifying its ideal customer. Then, marketing uses the best-suited channels to draw your customers’ attention and helps you win over a larger market share. 

Let’s take Nike’s example. The company’s brand is focused on pushing for excellence. Nike used a specific marketing campaign called “Find Your Greatness” to communicate a particular message meant for ordinary people. The aim was to empower them to go for what they desired. It turned out to be the most talked-about campaign during the London 2012 Olympics, increasing Nike+ membership by 55% and bringing $506 million to the company.

Marketing Examples

Marketing uses the so-called “Marketing Mix,” also referred to as the 4Ps of marketing: product, price, place, and promotion. The 4Ps were included in Jerome McCarthy’s book “Basic Marketing: A Managerial Approach” published in 1960. McCarthy was an American marketing professor and author.

For instance, the product is what you sell. The 4 Ps strategy implies that you should understand what makes your product unique to help it stand out from the competition and win over customers.

Some popular marketing types include:  

  • Content marketing
  • Email marketing
  • Mobile marketing
  • Pay-per-click (PPC) advertising
  • Print campaigns and direct mail
  • Radio and podcasts
  • Search engine optimization (SEO)
  • Social media marketing 
  • Television and video

For example, pay-per-click advertising is an internet marketing model in which the advertiser pays a fee each time its ad is clicked. If you pick this model for your marketing strategy, you can use ad tracking software to monitor visits, clicks, and conversions with real-time reporting.

The Goals of Branding and Marketing

Mobile Branding vs. Marketing

Marketing and branding aim to draw customers to your business to grow your company. So, let’s look at them separately. 

Branding only gives your customers an understanding of whether they should choose your brand or not. It aims to build customer trust and loyalty, increase that loyalty, differentiate your product or service from the competition, and establish market leadership.

Marketing places your brand’s messages into the market. Its goal is to reach your target audience and communicate the benefits of your product or service to influence the audience to buy it. As a result, you can acquire, keep, and grow customers. 

Unlike branding, marketing is more focused on sales and is based on a shorter timeframe. Why? You can use different marketing tactics at different times, but branding builds a timeless connection with customers.  

In today’s technological world, where many brand functions rely on automation, it’s crucial to have strong humanity at the centre of your brand to remain engaged with customers. 

Dharmesh Shah, CTO and co-founder of HubSpot, says, “Many companies have forgotten they sell to actual people. Humans care about the entire experience, not just the marketing or sales or service. To really win in the modern age, you must solve for humans.” 

Brand Strategy vs. Marketing Strategy

A branding strategy is also called a “brand development strategy.” It represents the long-term plan you use to achieve your company’s goal of establishing your brand in the market.

A marketing strategy refers to the plan you use to reach a target audience and turn them into consumers.

A branding strategy speaks of a long-term commitment to your audience. Therefore, it should be consistent across all the channels and campaigns you use to market your brand. As for a marketing strategy, it can require a short-term commitment and may be influenced by different factors, such as the time of the year.

Let’s take the example of Tesla’s branding strategy. The company focused on its unique selling point rather than the price. Specifically, the company focuses on producing high-quality electric vehicles that set it apart from other gas-powered luxury cars. And this is an example of branding being long-term.

Marketing vs. Advertising vs. Branding

Let’s compare marketing vs. advertising vs. branding to get a clearer view. Marketing represents the process of identifying your customers’ needs and figuring out the best way to meet those needs. In contrast, advertising is a component of marketing that promotes your product or service with the help of paid channels. As for branding, it’s about your mission and values and establishes your company’s identity.

Branding vs. Marketing: Which Comes First?

When discussing branding and marketing, you may wonder which one comes first. Branding always comes first. Why? Primarily because your marketing plans are founded on and need to convey the brand message. For example, if you don’t have a logo, you can’t make an ad. 

How Marketing and Branding Work Together

Branding vs. Marketing

To grow your business effectively, you need both branding and marketing. So, let’s look at the connection between the two.

Branding is the process of demonstrating your company’s mission and values to the world and building a community based on them. Marketing helps you share your specific message with this community. You can successfully connect with your customers by balancing your branding and marketing efforts adequately. 

Connecting With Your Customers

Both branding and marketing help your company connect with customers. Specifically, marketing finds and stimulates your ideal customers, and branding turns them into devoted customers and supporters of your product or service. 

Purchasing is all about emotions, and successful brands connect with customers at an emotional level. Neuroscientist Antonio Damasio has studied people with damage in the part of the brain (limbic system) responsible for emotions. They weren’t only unable to feel emotions but also couldn’t make decisions. In addition, Harvard professor Gerald Zaltman says that 95% of purchase decisions occur in the consumer’s subconscious mind

For example, the Apple brand is built on the science of customer emotions. The company creates aesthetically beautiful products that enable it to be associated with luxury in customers’ eyes. Driven by emotions, consumers are ready to pay a premium for Apple products.

That’s why the psychology of colour plays an immense role in advertising and marketing as it evokes emotional reactions. For instance, blue is the colour of strength, wisdom, and trust. Psychologist Carl Jung viewed colour as the native language of the subconscious. A University of Loyola study has revealed that colour raises brand recognition by up to 80%.

So, with a good branding strategy, you can create customer loyalty and trust, and marketing will nurture the connection with customers. One of the marketing tactics that companies use to connect with their customers is attraction marketing. This strategy provides customers with content that brings value to their lives and targets their needs, thus drawing them to your company. For example, this refers to the content in videos, podcasts, blog posts, webinars, and social media posts.

Finally, branding generates a timeless connection. Even if you change your marketing efforts, ongoing branding will make your customers come back.

Balancing Your Priorities

Your marketing efforts should accompany your branding efforts if you want to grow your company successfully. You can’t leave one of them behind. For example, if you’re using a marketing campaign far from your company’s mission and values, you’ll only waste money. 

You need to continuously balance your branding and marketing priorities to achieve the ultimate goal of growing your business. Specifically, you should keep your brand identity consistent throughout the years and stay true to your brand values. 

However, you can change your marketing avenues or tactics depending on your brand. And your brand should respond to market variation and be subject to fine-tuning as your company and your relationship with your customers evolve.

For instance, you may opt for traditional marketing methods such as billboards and T.V. commercials or rely on digital marketing strategies.

The Areas Where Branding and Marketing Overlap

Even if branding and marketing are different, they overlap in some areas. For example, when you choose imagery to utilize continuously, branding and marketing become one thing. Another example is the use of video. It helps you shape and communicate your brand and push your digital marketing efforts.

Namely, colours, graphics, and logos represent your brand and are always present in your ongoing marketing campaigns.

The Difference Between Branding and Marketing

Marketing grabs customer attention and increases sales. Branding builds customer trust and loyalty and keeps customers’ attention. That’s why marketing can drive sales for the short term, while branding does that for the long term. Also, branding stays the same, and marketing doesn’t: marketing activities, trends, and methodologies constantly evolve.

Marketing Increases Sales and Customer Loyalty, While Building The Brand

Branding gives a reputation to your company, thus creating loyalty and trust with consumers. Brand loyalty implies that customers strongly favour your brand over competitors with similar offerings. Since they already enjoy your product or service, you don’t need to persuade them to consider your brand. 

Conversely, marketing draws customer attention, boosts product awareness, and makes your product or service visible to a larger audience. This results in increased sales and revenue.

Final Thoughts

Branding vs. marketing? Both are necessary for effectively growing your business. Though these are two different concepts, they work closely together and even overlap in some areas.

Branding identifies your company and differentiates it from the competition. Marketing represents the tools and strategies you use to deliver your brand message to your target audience. Marketing grows your sales, and branding builds customer trust and loyalty. Marketing draws your customers’ attention, and branding keeps it. 

Published by Owen Carter on October 4, 2022

Owen Carter

Owen Carter

Owen is a marketing specialist. He works with advertisers and publishers directly, enhancing their marketing campaigns. Owen understands the importance of having the right tools for the job. He got his start designing and implementing a proprietary platform at a major performance marketing organization. During his free time, Owen enjoys rereading company emails and looking for mistakes.


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