Branding Series: The Difference Between Branding and Marketing


Many small business owners or people new to the ideas of marketing and branding use the two words interchangeably. This is a common mistake, but branding and marketing are actually two quite different tasks, each of which has their own purpose.

As we begin a new series about branding your business, it is important we begin by clearing the air about the confusion between the terms “branding” and “marketing,” and what the primary differences are.

Difference Between Branding and Marketing

Marketing is an action; branding is a strategy

The primary difference to remember between the two is that marketing involves more of a push than branding. Marketing is the active promotion of a service or product. To oversimplify things a bit, marketing essentially involves you reaching out to your customers and telling them exactly why they should buy what you’re selling.

Branding is what comes before any marketing efforts you engage in. It involves expressions of the values of your organization or service. An organization focused on branding is communicating all of the attributes, values and characteristics that define that organization. A brand image helps encourage people to buy a product, but it is not a means in and of itself of reaching out to customers to convince them. Rather than a push tactic, it is more of a pull, drawing customers in based on image and reputation.

The tactics you use in your marketing campaigns could contribute to your brand image, but ultimately your brand is much bigger than any individual marketing effort you perform. It is much more consistent and longer lasting. Marketing campaigns may last a few months, but a brand is something you build up over the course of time and hope to sustain for years. Your goal with your brand is to have it stick in the minds of your customers to the point where they associate your company with certain ideas, traits and values.

For example: if people assume your company is reliable, then that is a key element of your brand that you have likely built up through years of hard work and intuitive branding.

loyal customers

Marketing creates new buyers; branding creates loyal customers

Another key difference between marketing and branding is the kinds of customers they create. The primary goal of marketing is to reach out to new audiences and turn them into buyers. The strategies used to accomplish this can vary widely, but that is always the goal of any marketing campaign. Marketing is very much a sales-driven endeavor.

Branding, however, is more about creating loyalty among customers. There’s a big difference between convincing someone to come and buy once and convincing someone to not only come back multiple times, but to actually become an advocate for your company. Have you ever recommended a particular business to a friend? Even if you did not explicitly think of it in these terms, you did so because you bought into that company’s brand, at least in some regard.

Your ability to brand your company is just as important to the success of your organization as being financially stable, having a strong strategic plan and vision for the future, and having an outstanding team of employees.

Over the next few weeks, we will discuss branding in greater detail, including best practices, mistakes and misconceptions and more. But for now, remember this: marketing and branding are not the same. Each requires a different skill set and is performed for a different purpose. Both are important, but only one produces loyal customers who advocate for your company.

Copyright 2017 Viral Solutions LLC

christine kelly

Prior to joining Viral Solutions, Christine held executive leadership roles at some of the largest small business consulting firms in the USA. Her experience includes leading direct reports of over 130 remote sales agents who generated $38mm in annual revenue. She obtained her Marketing degree from British Columbia Institute of Technology. Bring her C-Suite experience to your small business. Although our company is virtual, and we can work with you wherever you are located, she is located in Denver, Colorado and owns a second home in Vancouver, BC Canada.

Viral Solutions LLC is a Digital Marketer Certified Partner and an Infusionsoft Certified Consultant.

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Filed Under: Business Tips