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Marketing Vs. Branding: What’s the Difference?

By Joanna Cave

Starting a business can be intimidating, especially when you’re new to all the terminology. When you don’t understand the jargon, even reading advice and instruction on how to do things can be difficult. So it’s vital to get a good grasp of some of the most important concepts in business if you want to succeed. Two such terms that get thrown around a lot are marketing and branding. People often use these words together or even interchangeably, but although connected, marketing and branding are very different things. To grow your business, you will need both. You can’t do that until you understand the differences between marketing vs. branding first.

Marketing vs. branding: definitions

The most obvious place to start when talking about the distinction between marketing and branding is defining what each of those terms means:

  1. Marketing consists of the processes and strategies you use to promote your business, products, and services actively.
  2. Branding is what you do to define your business in the eyes of the public.

Think of it like this – branding is who you are; marketing is how you get customers to care. For example, if you’re running a cosmetic company, your brand may be all about vegan products, hand-made soaps, and natural herbal scents. Developing these values, creating a logo that reflects your focus on nature, partnering only with other businesses with similar positions – this is branding. The commercials you run about your business on TV, posters you put up in your shop windows about promotions, and targeted ads about new products on social media – this is marketing.

Man developing a marketing strategy.
If you’re wondering whether a particular strategy is marketing or branding, ask yourself about its goals – promoting products and driving sales is what you do through marketing.

Of course, if you want to build a big brand, you will need good marketing. And if you want to run a successful marketing campaign, you’ll need to base it on your brand. So these are very connected processes, but they are still distinct from each other.

Difference between the use of marketing vs. branding

The differences between branding and marketing are not just theoretical. In fact, they’re very practical because you will use marketing and branding for different purposes. It is essential to note the difference between the two so that you can develop appropriate strategies for each.

Use marketing to attract customers

Since marketing is how you introduce your customers to your business, it makes sense to use it to attract new customers. You can run marketing campaigns about particular products or services, or you may be running a new promotion that you think will bring in a new audience. You can even run campaigns about your brand, selling your business based on its values. These are flexible strategies that you can adjust to your target demographic, but you shouldn’t change your brand just to appeal to a new audience. Branding has a different purpose.

Man standing in Times Square.
Marketing attracts the attention of potential customers.

Use branding to keep customers

Once you’ve attracted new customers, your goal is to keep them, and this is where branding comes in. Branding distinguishes you from your competition. Your selling point with your brand can be almost anything that sets you apart as better from other businesses: your products’ exclusivity, a better online customer experience, more ethical business practices, etc. These are the things that will have your customers coming back again and again.

Drive sales with marketing

If your goal is to increase sales, branding is too broad of a strategy to adopt. What you need is better marketing. Promoting a particular product or service on TV, on billboards, in stores, and online will draw the customers’ attention. You can try different strategies, such as marketing by retargeting, promotions and free gifts, newsletters, and more. All of this can boost sales and profits, and that is the point of marketing.

Boost recognition and loyalty with branding

If you want to create a name for yourself, however, marketing won’t help much. Instead, branding is what you should turn to for recognition. Creating a recognizable image around your business is what branding is all about. Having a good name and logo, posting the right kind of content that your customers expect from you, adopting certain company values and practices, always presenting your business a certain way – these are the things that stick in people’s minds. So you’ll need to work on those if you want people to find your company memorable and worthy of return business.

Apple products on a desk.
Branding is what gets your customers to like you enough to stick around.

What comes first between marketing vs. branding?

Since marketing and branding are connected processes, it stands to reason that they affect each other. But which comes first between marketing vs. branding? Do you build your brand through marketing, or do you base your marketing on your brand? The answer is not as simple as it may seem. The truth is that both branding and marketing are crucial for the success of your business. Without either of them, you can’t become a household name. But chronologically speaking, branding should come first. Because branding is the substance of your business, and marketing is how you present that substance, you must come up with a brand before you can promote it. You can then develop that brand through marketing, but the basics must exist from the start because they will inform decisions about marketing, hiring, practices, and more.


About the Author

joanna cave

Joanna Cave is a marketing strategist at Digital Dot New York, a digital marketing agency dedicated to helping businesses grow their online presence. Her degree in business marketing and experience in teaching make her uniquely qualified to educate new business owners and aspiring marketing experts about best practices in marketing, branding, and online presence.



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About the Author
An online marketer, SEO copywriter, and speaker for 15+ years, Gloria Grace Rand has helped over 150 companies including AAA and Scholastic Book Fairs attract and convert leads into sales.

Losing her older sister to cancer propelled Gloria on a journey of spiritual awakening that resulted in the publication of her international best-selling book, "Live. Love. Engage. – How to Stop Doubting Yourself and Start Being Yourself."

Known as “The Light Messenger” for her ability to intuitively transmit healing messages of love and light, Gloria combines a unique blend of energy healing techniques, intuition, and marketing expertise to create transformational results for her clients.

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