The boundaries between branding and marketing are often blurred, or nonexistent. Many lump the two together, using marketing as an all-encompassing term and philosophy by which they attempt to publicize their business.

But the distinction between marketing and branding is crucial to effectively communicating with your target audience, and ultimately driving the sales your company requires to succeed.

What is Marketing and Branding?

The difference between marketing versus branding is like the difference between the sun and the moon.

The sun is the source of all light, life, and warmth. It makes the trees grow and the flowers bloom. It is the reason we are all here. That’s your brand.

The moon is an attractive rock that orbits the planet and reflects the light of the sun. That’s marketing.

Get it right, and your customers will understand instantly why they should value your brand over your competitors. Get it wrong, and you could end up strengthening your competitors’ brands.

3 Ways to Understand the Difference Between Marketing and Branding

1. Marketing is your message. Your brand is who you are.

When done right, your brand is your reason for being.

Your brand is the unique, authentic, singular value you offer to your customers. It permeates the culture of your company, and it is communicated to your customers every time they see, feel, touch, or experience your branding—not just when they experience a marketing message.

In short, everything your company does or creates is your brand. This is why it’s so important to have a cohesive strategy across all departments and facets of your company – or across any brands that full under the umbrella of your parent brand—a definitive brand architecture.

2. Branding comes first, marketing second.

If you have a logo, a package design, or a slogan, you may think you have a brand. What you actually have is a set of marketing materials and messages.

What’s step one? You must determine and define your brand value in the marketplace. Only then should you move on to developing a brand strategy—followed, last of all, by crafting a marketing campaign.

Your cohesive strategy should encompass everything from your business strategy, to your market differentiator, to your company culture. Start with where you are now and map out where you need to be in 1, 5 or even 10 years.

Knowing whether you need to go toe-to-toe with an industry-leading megabrand or reposition an entire category to create a new space your brand can own, will define what brand identity you need to succeed.


Once this roadmap has been defined, you may begin strategically crafting the brand identity that will define who you are and what you do through this growth, in a manner that’s clear and comprehensible to your audience and disruptive and differentiative to your competition.

In an age of mass marketing and innumerable social media ads, brand identity and authenticity are the tools that will enable you to gain customers, retain them as loyalists and groom them into evangelists.

3. You own your marketing; your consumers own your brand.

Compared to branding, marketing is easier to control and to comprehend.

You write the headlines, you choose the art, you post the Tweets. You measure conversions or awareness and determine whether your marketing is a success or a failure.

Something a little scary happens between your marketing efforts and your customers’ actions—that’s branding, and while your marketing, customer service, and other consumer touchpoints influence your brand, you cannot manufacture brand value by yourself.

Marketing is storytelling. The most powerful branding happens when you listen, not when you talk. Your consumers will tell you what your brand is—or what they need it to be—because they alone know.

Learn this difference between branding and marketing, and don’t confuse your tactics.

The strongest brands build marketing campaigns that work hand in hand with their brand positioning strategy. They listen to their customers, and let their values, hopes, and desires define the brand’s position—then craft marketing campaigns to communicate that value through simple, creative, show-stopping executions.

Want your next marketing campaign to kill it? Get in touch.