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What’s the difference between branding and marketing?

What’s the difference between branding and marketing?

To put it simply, branding is strategic, marketing is tactical. They’re different but related. Confusing, I know!

You could relate the difference and relationship between branding and marketing to that between the sun and the moon. The sun is the source of light and warmth that makes trees grow and flowers bloom. That’s your brand. The moon, however, is an attractive rock that orbits Earth and reflects the light of the sun. That’s your marketing.

Understanding this difference will help your customers understand why you do what you do, and ultimately, why they should choose you over your competitor.

What is branding?

In a nutshell, a brand tells people exactly what they can expect and is derived from who you are, who you believe in, what you want to be and who you are perceived to be – it’s your brand story. In order to identify your brand, you need to ask yourself several questions. Questions that go beyond industry generalisations, and services or products on offer. It’s more about what makes you stand out from the crowd.

What is marketing?

When speaking of marketing, we normally refer to the tools you use to deliver your brand’s message. This could include business cards, promotional products, social media and Google Ads. Your marketing is specific to your brand and will continually change and evolve, just as your products and services you offer will continue to change and evolve. Marketing will be directly and specifically aimed towards sectors of your target audience, all while supporting the core values of your branding.

What comes first - branding or marketing?

Branding is at the core of your marketing strategy, so branding must come first. Even if you are a startup, it is essential to get your brand identity correct to clearly define who you are before you even begin to think about your specific marketing methods, tools and tactics.

Your brand and values are what keep your clients coming back for more. Overall it is the foundation of your business and where you will develop customer loyalty. Think of restaurants and retailers in your local area (independently owned, or chains), it is their brand (and maybe good food) that keeps you returning time after time.

Marketing methods will evolve, and respond to current industry trends, whereas branding remains the same. Even when you make adjustments to your brand, they will typically be in response to your growth or because of an expansion of services that you offer. Think of branding as the way you keep current clients and marketing as how you attract new clients.

The importance of understanding the difference

Your brand is what generates a personal connection. Even if your current marketing efforts are designed to engage potential customers, it is the ongoing brand image that keeps customers coming back for more. Competition is fierce, and the fact of the matter is that there are companies who offer comparable, and possibly even identical, products and services that you offer.

Your marketing needs to reflect your brand identity and values to reach and engage new customers, but your branding needs to build loyalty and trust, and it is this that makes you original.

Where branding and marketing overlap

While branding and marketing are distinctly different, of course, they overlap. For example, when selecting imagery to be used on an ongoing basis, branding and marketing become one in the same – the marketing collateral design must be inline with your branding for it to stay connected to your business.

As the saying goes “A picture speaks a thousand words.” With that in mind, when you choose your company colours, graphics, and imagery they must first represent your brand, but they will also play an important role in your ongoing marketing campaigns.

If the difference between branding and marketing are now clear, but you are still unsure of the importance of understanding the two, it all comes down to conversions. While you could create your marketing strategies with the most effective marketing methods within your industry, your customer conversions will be lower if your target audience are not connected to you and your brand.

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