What Are the Differences Between Branding and Marketing?

Do you know the differences between branding and marketing? If not, that’s okay.

Lots of people are confused about branding and marketing and will use the terms interchangeably, assuming that they’re synonyms. In reality, though, there are some essential distinctions between these two concepts.

Read on to learn more about these differences. You’ll also gain insight into the benefits of both marketing and branding, as well as the ways in which they work in conjunction to help entrepreneurs like you promote and build a successful business.

Let's define who you are.

What Is Branding?

Before we dive deeper into the specific differences between branding and marketing, let’s start with some basic definitions.

Speaking of definitions, that’s what you’re doing when you work on branding your business. Put simply, branding involves defining who you are and what your company stands for.

There’s a lot that goes into building your brand, from your company’s mission statement and core values to your logo, style guide, and website design.

Proper branding helps people to recognize and connect with your business. This recognition and connection, in turn, make it easier for them to develop a sense of loyalty to you and continue coming back again and again.

Now let's focus on the specific tools and strategies employed by your brand.

What Is Marketing?

Branding is all about defining who you are as a company. Marketing, on the other hand, refers to the specific tools and strategies you’ll use to spread that message and help people learn about what you value and have to offer.

Marketing encapsulates all the different actions that you’ll take to engage with your customers, introduce them to your brand, and get them in the company’s (literal or virtual) front door.

Identity vs Tactics

A simple way to remember the difference between branding and marketing is to think of branding as building your business’s identity and marketing as the tactical approach you’ll take to share that identity.

Marketing refers to the specifics tactics you’ll use to promote your business and catch people’s attention. Branding, on the other hand, refers to your company’s core identity. Brand identity is fixed and lasts forever (or, at least, it ought to — we’ll save the topic of rebranding for another day!), whereas marketing tactics and best practices change over time.

Seriously, coffee first.

Branding vs Marketing: Which Comes First?

As you can see, branding and marketing are absolutely connected. Even though you now know the definitions of branding and marketing, it’s understandable if you’re still feeling a bit lost.

One of the most common questions that people ask after learning the differences between these two terms is “which should I focus on first, branding or marketing?”

Some people might assume that it doesn’t matter where they begin. In reality, though, it’s important for you to identify and familiarize yourself with your brand before you start trying to market it.

Think of it this way: You can’t come up with an effective way to promote your products if you don’t first have a clear idea of what you’re trying to promote, right?

Branding Always Wins

Branding should always come first when you’re building a business and creating a business plan. If you know who you are as a company, what you want to bring to your customers, and what your core values are, it’ll be easier for you to come up with marketing materials that align with those values and help you to connect with your target audience on a deeper level.

If you don’t start with branding, there’s a good chance you’ll just end up throwing things at the wall and seeing what sticks. You’ll probably have a hard time coming up with a clear marketing strategy, and you’ll likely end up wasting a lot of time and resources trying to figure out how to promote your products or services and get the right people interested in them.

There’s a good chance this situation doesn’t appeal to you. Let’s face it, what business owner wants to waste time and money? If that’s the case, you’ll be better served by clarifying your brand before moving on to the specific marketing tactics you want to implement.

Zoom. Zoom.

Benefits of Branding

Here are some of the key advantages that come when you focus on branding right from the beginning:

Branding Creates Loyal Customers

Just about any business owner will tell you (correctly, we might add) that it’s more expensive to bring in a new customer than it is to retain an existing one.

If you want your business to grow and become profitable sooner, it’s imperative that you focus on retaining customers and fostering a sense of loyalty among your audience. Good branding helps you to accomplish this.

Proper branding, combined with a killer product or service, of course, is what makes someone a loyal customer. Think about the brands to which you are loyal (Coke vs Pepsi, Toyota vs Honda, McDonald’s vs Burger King, etc.). Why do you make a face when a waiter says the restaurant only serves Pepsi products? Why do drive the extra mile to pick up a Whopper instead of a Big Mac? Chances are that one reason you are loyal to one brand over another is that you connect with their branding and values.

Remember that the brand isn’t just about the logo or the colors used on the company’s packaging. It also encapsulates the company’s delivery speed, the service you received when making a purchase, the activism work they might be involved in, and more.

With proper branding, you can foster the same sense of loyalty among your customers that you feel for your favorite brands.

Branding Guides Marketing

We’ve already touched on this, but it’s too important not to emphasize one more time. Branding helps to guide your marketing efforts.

If you’ve taken the time to identify your brand values and messaging, you can make sure that all the marketing tactics and materials you use reflect those values and align with your message. You’ll also be able to tell right away whether or not a particular approach is “on brand” with your business. As a result, you will ensure that you don’t accidentally alienate customers with something that doesn’t match up with what they’ve come to expect from you.

Branding Affects Your Team and Your Customers

Keep in mind that branding affects both your customers and your team. At the end of the day, it’s not just about attracting and retaining customers. It’s also about creating a passionate and committed work environment.

If you’re clear on your branding, you can use your brand to attract the right type of people to your team. This, in turn, ensures that everyone who works for your company shares your core values and is excited about doing work (whether it’s directly related to marketing or another part of running the business) that reflects those values.

Marketing guides people to your brand.

Benefits of Marketing

After reading the benefits of branding, you might find yourself assuming that marketing isn’t as important or that you don’t need to focus on it as much as you do branding. Not so fast there!

Remember, you need both to build a successful business. If you have a clear idea of who you are as a company and what your values are but aren’t doing anything to promote those values, what’s the point?  

Marketing matters, too. Here are some of the most noteworthy benefits that a solid marketing plan brings to the table:

Marketing Builds Brand Awareness

The right marketing tactics can build brand awareness and help people learn about your business, what you offer, and what you value. You also need a good marketing strategy if you want to activate customers and get them to actually make a purchase.

Remember, marketing provides you with an opportunity to make a good first impression on potential customers. A good first impression helps you to spark their interest and convince them to take the plunge and buy what you’re selling.

Marketing Is Versatile

The most effective marketing tactics to use in 1980 are no longer the most effective marketing tactics to use in 2020. Marketing trends and approaches are always evolving, which means your business’s marketing strategy will always be evolving, too.

It takes a lot of time and energy to figure out your business’s brand messaging and values. Once you’ve done this work, though, everything else becomes a bit easier, and you have more room to experiment without having to worry about wasting resources.

As long as you stay anchored to your branding and core values, you can (and should) try out different approaches, start your own trends, and find new ways to help your company stand out.

Master Branding and Marketing Today

Now that you know more about the differences between branding and marketing and the key roles they both play in building a successful business, are you ready to start addressing your strategy? Do you need help coming up with a clear branding and marketing plan for your company?

If you need additional guidance, we’re here to help at Brewww Studio. We offer bespoke branding, web design, and social media marketing services. If you’re looking for creative that just works, we’ve got your back. Contact us today to learn more.