What is the difference between branding and marketing?

While definitions of branding and marketing may differ, they go hand in hand so tightly that most people use these terms almost interchangeably. And since both terms don’t have an expressly agreed-upon definition, it’s sometimes hard to tell the difference between the two. However, branding and marketing have very distinct meanings, and it’s essential to understand both concepts.

When you are building a business or a brand, many buzzwords get thrown around, which can make it hard to learn and apply all of them properly. As mentioned, branding and marketing are two terms in particular that tend to get mixed up. The reality is that, since they are so closely intertwined, it can sometimes be hard to pinpoint exactly where one ends and the other begins. But understanding the differences between branding and marketing can be the key to shaping a brand-driven marketing strategy that brings results. If you want your business to succeed, you need to not only know what branding and marketing are but also how to use them together effectively.


Definition of Branding

I’ve talked previously about what brand and branding are, and the fact that they are a couple of those terms that have a lot of misconceptions surrounding them.

A brand, for example, is so much more than a logo; it’s the consumer’s gut feeling about a particular product, service, or company. It’s the idea or perception the consumer has, both practically and emotionally - The Branding Journal (2015). And as a result, branding is the practice that makes the brand identifiable in the market, creates brand awareness, and makes a memorable impression in the consumer’s mind. Branding is the set of actions you perform to shape the brand in the consumer’s mind and create a positive perception, which gives the brand value. The definition of branding has come a long way since the concept first appeared, but it’s still probably one of the most critical primary steps in making your business successful.

Definition of Marketing

According to the American Marketing Association, the definition of marketing is the activity, set of institutions, and processes for creating, communicating, delivering, and exchanging offerings that have value for customers, clients, partners, and society at large. Basically, marketing is how you are going to deliver the message of your brand to key audiences in a way that will lead to eventually profitable sales. It’s the actions you take to actively promote your product or service and company, while at the same time connect with your customers and get them to buy it. 

Marketing is the tool you use to communicate your brand, building product awareness, gathering new customers and meeting essential sales goals. It takes a variety of forms and is continuously changing as new trends and technologies hit the market every day. But to send consistent and relatable messages to the customers, marketing needs a strong brand on which to stand.

Differences between Branding and Marketing

Alright, so now that we know and understand both definitions, let’s talk about the key differences between branding and marketing:

  • Branding comes first, marketing comes second;
  • Branding is your identity, and marketing is the tool you use to communicate and promote your product or service;
  • Marketing discovers buyers and drives sales, and branding drives recognition and loyalty, making devoted customer;
  • While marketing is what gets a customer’s attention and engagement with your company for the first time, branding is what keeps their attention and has them coming back;
  • Marketing strategies come and go and tend to have shorter-term goals, but branding is a long-term commitment;
  • Branding requires a great amount of strategic framework, while marketing is entirely tactical.


So, in a nutshell, you need the right marketing strategies to set your brand apart from the competition, and you need branding to foster a long-term relationship with your customers.

Branding isn’t the same as marketing - branding is the core of your marketing strategy. Before you even think about putting a marketing strategy in place, you need to focus on branding. Because once you have a strong brand, you’ll have a better understanding of who you are, who your customer is, and what are the best ways to foster a relationship with your target. Only then, you can build a successful marketing strategy that brings all your goals to life. This is where many businesses get it wrong. By separating these two departments, you’re inevitably creating a disconnect between your product and message, which will affect your relationship with your customer.