Branding and marketing are so interconnected it can be difficult to know where one starts and the other stops. But the two are actually quite different. So what’s the distinction?

Put simply, marketing encompasses the activities that you undertake to promote your business.

Branding is more internal. It’s about defining who you are as a business and what you stand for. It’s the identity and character of your business.

Let’s explore this in more depth.


Objectives

Branding is what creates a deep and long-lasting connection with customers. A brand’s core underlying values and connection brings customers back time and time again. They are less likely to leave you for a competitor and will recommend you to others. That’s because the most important differentiator isn’t the product or price, it’s the brand.

Marketing is about uncovering and connecting with audiences most likely to benefit from the brand’s promise. Marketing is the tool that finds a relevant audience that buys into the mission created in your branding. Marketing is what grabs a customer’s attention and gets them to convert to the action you want them to take. Unlike branding, it’s about getting a response rather than building loyalty.

Timing

Branding needs to happen before marketing. That’s because it is a driver of all marketing campaigns. It provides the foundation and direction for all marketing activities.

Branding and Marketing also have a different timescale. Branding is a promise that is made to customers that is consistent and long term. Marketing is constantly changing and is short term. It is a communication of your brand message to consumers that can evolve over time. Marketing changes according to technology and industry developments.

Focus

Branding is all about the why and marketing is about the how.

Let’s consider an example. Why: Nike’s mission is to bring inspiration and innovation to every athlete in the world. If you have a body, you are an athlete. How: Nike creates groundbreaking sport innovations that help casual enthusiasts to top athletes to achieve their best.

Activities

Branding consists of all the activities dedicated to defining why a company exists and crafting a unique identity that customers emotionally connect to and immediately recognise. Branding is about the ‘being’ and includes activities that help define and express that ‘being’.

Marketing takes that identity and finds ways to raise awareness and promote the company’s product or service. Marketing is about the ‘doing’ and includes all the actions you take to reach your target audience and drive responses.

For example, Nike’s branding efforts are centred around creating an identity of performance, inspiration, and empowerment. Their iconic logo and slogan express this identity. On the other hand, Nike’s marketing activities consist of various campaigns, sponsorships, and digital strategies that promote their products and engage customers.


In conclusion, whilst there are overlaps between branding and marketing, they are two distinct and powerful concepts in their own right. They encompass different activities, serve different purposes, have unique priorities, and different time considerations.

How do you distinguish between branding and marketing? Let me know in the comments.

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