Branding vs marketing: how do they differ?

By Strategically AI. Reviewed by Rebecca Hey.
Updated December 7, 2022
11 minute read
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Branding and marketing are often confused, but they are two distinct concepts. Both are essential to the success of your business but serve different purposes.

Comparing branding and marketing makes it clear that marketing is about promotion and persuasion, while branding is about creating a unique identity.

Marketing methods create demand for a product or service through promotion and selling. On the other hand, branding creates a unique identity for a product or service that differentiates it from its competitors.

Marketing focuses on the short-term goal of driving sales, and branding sets the long-term goal of building equity and creating brand loyalty. Marketing is about what you do, while branding is about who you are.

Seems too complicated? Worry not. We will break down each concept and explain the main differences between them.

Branding VS Marketing

What is branding?

When you think about branding, what comes to mind? For many people, branding is all about the logos and colours that make up a company's visual identity. That would be correct to a small degree, but it's actually so much more than that.

A brand is the sum of all the touchpoints a customer or prospect has with a company. It's how the company's name is presented, the look of its products, the employees' interaction with customers, and much more. In other words, branding is the core values that contribute to the overall perception of a company.

From a customer's viewpoint, branding is a sum of impressions, from their first interaction to their continued loyalty. It's the feeling they get when they see your logo, read your content, or even hear your company name.

And while a strong visual identity is essential, it's only a tiny part of what makes up a brand. In fact, the most critical part of a brand is its story. It's the heart of what makes you unique. It's the reason why customers choose you over your competitors. It's what makes people want to become loyal fans.

So, what is branding? Branding creates a strong, unique, and consistent identity for your business. It's about telling your story in a way that resonates with your audience and differentiates you from your competition. 

There are many different aspects to branding. Here are some of the most important ones:

Brand identity

The identity includes basic things, such as a company's name, logo, and tagline. The customers see these things first, so these elements must be well-designed to convey the right message about the company.

Brand positioning

Brand positioning refers to a company's position in the market. The positioning includes the company's mission statement, target audience, and USP (Unique Selling Proposition).

Brand voice

The way a company communicates with its customers determines the brand voice. It includes the tone and style of its communications and the overall message.

Brand experience

Brand experience is about how a company shapes the feelings of its customers. That experience is developed through customer service, product design, and the overall user experience.

Brand equity

Equity refers to the value that a company has built up in its brand. Customer loyalty, name recognition, and goodwill work together to create the worth of a brand.

As you can see, branding is much more than just a logo or a tagline. It's an integral part of any business and, if done correctly, can significantly impact a company's bottom line.

Image credit: Eva Bronzini / Pexels

What is marketing?

The word "marketing" is one of the most overused and misunderstood terms in business today. In its simplest form, marketing is the process or activity of creating, communicating, delivering, and exchanging offerings that provide value to customers and drive sales.

Developing a marketing strategy involves identifying what customers want and then creating a plan to deliver it to them to drive revenue. 

Marketing is the lifeblood of any business. It works like an engine that drives sales, fuel that powers growth, and a catalyst that turns ideas into reality. A marketer has to do extensive market research to understand the science of customer behaviour and master the art of persuasion to convince the target audience. 

However, effective marketing is so much more than that. It creates a deep emotional connection with customers beyond a product's or service's features and benefits. Marketers must create an experience so compelling, memorable, and valuable that customers are willing to pay for it.

If you want to be successful in business, you need to understand marketing.

Branding vs marketing: the key differences

Branding and marketing are correlated, but they are never the same thing. Let's take a closer look at how they differ from each other.

Foundation vs appearance

The first step in any strong marketing campaign is understanding your audience. Once you know your target market, you can begin to craft your messaging and design your campaigns to reach them where they are. 

Before you can do that, you need to understand what your brand represents, as that is the foundation of your marketing campaign. It's what will guide your messaging, visuals, and overall tone. Without a strong brand, your marketing will lack direction, and your campaigns will be less effective.

Think of your brand as the north star of your marketing efforts. It's the guiding light that helps you navigate the ever-changing marketing landscape. Understanding what your brand stands for ensures that your marketing campaigns are always on point and aligned with your company's values.

Emotional connection vs rational persuasion

Branding is about developing an emotional connection with your customers. It's about making people feel good about your company and your product. People who have a positive emotional connection with your brand are more likely to be loyal customers.

Marketing creates awareness and interest in a product or service. It's about getting people to see and hear your message and then motivating them to take action. While there can be an emotional element, it's not the primary focus. Marketing campaigns must be strategic and focused with measurable goals to be effective.

Strategy vs tactic

A long-term branding strategy helps build trust and loyalty between a company and its customers. A strong brand can command a premium price just because of the brand's presence and value in the market. It's the foundation upon which all of a company builds its marketing efforts.

Strategy vs tactic

Marketing is a short-term tactic to achieve specific objectives, such as increasing sales, growing market share, or launching a new product. It can be done through various channels, including advertising, public relations, and online marketing.

Grabbing attention vs retaining the attention

Marketing informs people about your product or service and develops their interest. But branding is the use of a name, term, design, symbol, or other features to identify your business and differentiate it from your competitors.

Marketing indeed generates leads and sales, but branding is what keeps your customers coming back. With the proper branding, you can convince consumers to trust in the quality of your products and overall services.

Managing the marketing vs owning the brand

Developing marketing strategies and running campaigns are in-house activities. As the business owner, you are in charge of creating and executing campaigns that promote your brand.

However, the real owners of your brand are your customers. Their perceptions and experiences shape their feelings about your company and ultimately determine its success or failure.

That's why it's essential to focus on creating a positive customer experience at every touchpoint. Every interaction should be seamless, positive, and valuable—from the initial contact with your brand through purchase and beyond.

Getting caught up in day-to-day marketing will make you lose sight of the bigger picture. The only way to avoid this is to give priority to customer experience. It will ensure that your marketing techniques are driving towards a positive brand perception to bring long-term success.

Long-term vs short-term investment

When it comes to marketing, it's easy to see the appeal of short-term campaigns. They're quick, usually cheaper, and can effectively drive sales. But while short-term campaigns are great for driving immediate results, they're not always the best long-term strategy for building a solid brand presence.

Branding is a long-term investment. It develops a lasting impression with your customers beyond just a single transaction. And while it can take longer to see the results of a branding campaign, the pay-off can be much more significant in the long run.

A strong brand will help you attract new customers and keep the ones you have. Customers who trust your brand are more likely to do business with you. Loyal customers are worth their weight in gold. They're the ones who keep coming back, year after year, and are more likely to recommend your products to their friends and family.

On the other hand, marketing activities convince people to buy from you right now. It's about convincing people to take action without necessarily building a relationship with them. However, it's a practical approach to reaching potential customers.

Image credit: Lukas / Pexels

Brand voice vs ad campaigns 

Let's look at three renowned brands and how they communicate their brand voice through marketing campaigns. These examples will help you understand the unique branding vs marketing dynamics.


Apple's brand identity is all about simplicity, innovation, and luxury. Their ad campaigns reflect this by featuring clean, minimal designs and short, straightforward messages. One example of an Apple ad campaign is the "Shot on iPhone" campaign, which features photos and videos taken by iPhone users worldwide.

Also, the company wants its customers to perceive it as a brand that encourages out-of-the-box thinking. Its advertising slogan, "Think Different," is a perfect example of driving that point home.  


Some examples of Starbucks' popular ad campaigns are "The Way I See It" and "Meet Me at Starbucks." These advertisements focus on the personal experiences of Starbucks customers and encourage them to spread cheer and goodwill. 

The campaigns successfully promoted Starbucks as an evocative, warm, and joyful company committed to providing a personal and unique experience for each customer.


The sports brand has built its footing around being motivational and inspirational. So, it's no wonder that most of its ad campaigns communicate these sentiments. The "Impossible is Nothing" campaign inspires people to stay focused on their goal in the face of adversaries. 

Another significant campaign from the brand is “Your Future is Not Mine.” It aims to inspire young people to chase their dreams and not let anyone stand in their way.

The branding vs marketing comparison makes it clear that both are important tools businesses can use to their advantage. And while they both play a role in promoting your business, they each have their unique purpose.

Image credit: Bicanski / Pixnio

How to balance marketing and branding for a successful business

As a marketer or marketing agency, you always seek ways to connect with your audience and promote your brand. But how do you do this in a way that balances your business priorities?

The key is understanding how marketing and branding work together to create a cohesive strategy that connects with your audience and promotes your brand. At Strategically, our professional content writing services we offer professional marketing and branding.

Marketing drives sales when the campaign is well-planned and structured. It can help create a strong brand that makes people want to do business with you, even if your prices are higher than the competition.

When you connect with your audience, you must consider marketing and branding. What are your business goals? What does your audience want from you? How can you promote your brand in a way that guarantees their satisfaction?

It's important to remember that marketing and branding are not static concepts. As your business grows and changes, so do your marketing and branding strategies. Keep your audience in mind as you evolve your plan to ensure that you still meet their needs.

To create a successful marketing and brand strategy that will help you achieve your goals, you need to:

  • Know your target audience
  • Keep your business priorities in mind
  • Connect with the customers in a meaningful way
  • Balance your marketing and branding strategies
  • Test and measure what works and what does not
  • Track your progress and adjust your plan as needed


The marketing vs branding comparison makes it clear that the objectives and goals may overlap, but they are ultimately two different beasts. Branding emphasises creating and maintaining a robust and recognisable identity for your company. It differentiates your company from its competitors. Marketing tactics promote your products or services and get the message out to reach the target audience.

Both marketing and branding are essential for the success of any business. The key is to find the right balance between the two, use each to its fullest potential, and learn from other startup founders to see what has worked for them.

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Rebecca Hey
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