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  • Vanessa Rowley-Matthew

The Difference Between Branding and Marketing

Updated: Jan 8


It’s important not to confuse the terms branding and marketing. They are both strategic activities that will determine the success of your business, and it’s crucial to understand the difference between them. Branding and marketing are equally important, but think of them this way:


You can’t market your brand if you haven’t first created a brand. Therefore, branding comes before marketing.


In a nutshell, branding is who you are—and marketing is how you build brand awareness.


What Is a Brand Identity?


A brand identity is created through the development of a brand strategy that defines the look, feel, and personality of your brand identity, as well as your brand position. You need all to create a brand identity. You also need to be clear about your brand architecture, which will also help to determine the best brand identity for your company. Supported by a complete and compelling narrative on what you are offering, why you are offering it, and where it all leads, your brand identity should always take shape, informed by more than whims and gut feelings.


Your brand identity includes its visual representation via branding elements such as your logo, fonts, and color palette. However, it’s also very much about the overall experience you want to provide your target audience. What they feel is just as important as what they see. Successful branding is about being memorable, meaningful, likable, and unique while connecting with your target audience and inspiring customer retention.


Why You Need Branding


Suppose you don’t have a brand identity. In that case, you lose a wonderful opportunity to connect with your target audience on a deeper, semiotic level. A brand identity enhances the reason for anyone to choose your business over other companies offering the same products or services. People need emotional and rational reasons for paying attention to you, so the way your branding makes them feel is what will attract them first. Only then will they be able to take notice of the utility value of your products or services.


What Is Marketing?

Marketing is the practice of promoting your products or services and involves employing specific and proactive strategies to reach members of your target audience with persuasive brand-based messages to grow your business. Different forms of marketing include direct mail, public relations, out-of-home, stealth, and social media marketing, to name a few.


How Branding and Marketing Overlap


While brand development and branding should come before devising marketing strategies, the two share the goal of making your business successful.


Think of branding as the author and marketing as the publisher.


Your marketing efforts should build brand awareness, increase sales, and help build brand equity. The goal of your branding strategy should be to set the stage for building brand equity while increasing brand likability and trust, with trust being key to selling any offer. Therefore, it’s not a question of branding vs. marketing but rather how the cornerstones of branding inform marketing.


Marketing Campaigns May Be Short-Term, But Brand Building Is Long-term


Some of your marketing campaigns will be expected to deliver on short-term goals. For example, ads related to holiday seasons are a great way to capture attention and spike your sales around Valentine’s Day, Easter, or Christmas. However, what your brand stands for doesn’t change unless the business strategy changes—whether it’s the holiday season or not.


For example, your new customer might have found you through an advertising campaign, but they need a reason to trust you. Branding should carry the weight of building a connection with customers and conveying a compelling story that connects your value to their values. Marketing should grab your audience’s attention, and branding should keep it.


Branding and Marketing: Final Thoughts


Again, it’s not about branding vs. marketing because they aren’t competing with each other. Instead, the main difference between them is that branding answers the questions “who” and “why,” and marketing answers the question “how”—different but equally necessary answers.

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