Marketing vs branding: what's the difference?

Marketing vs. branding: what’s the difference?

Posted by Maddy Leslie Picture of Maddy Leslie on 22 December 2022

Round one… Marketing vs. branding. Ding ding!

Actually, this is no fight. Successful marketing and branding operate in harmonious alignment, each boosting the impact of the other, and each with their own part to play.

Presenting a consistent brand through marketing is associated with roughly 20 percent revenue growth, according to Marq (formerly Lucidpress). You need a great brand and effective marketing to see those results, however.

That says it’s less a round in the ring and more a tango on the dancefloor. Just as captivating, just as skilful, but a team effort. In heels.

Marketing vs. branding

As you may have guessed by now, no, marketing and branding are NOT the same thing. Let’s make that clear. But what sets them apart?

We stopped our CEO in the metaphorical office corridor to ask him what he thought the difference was. This is what he had to say:

‘In a way, branding is the emotional counterpart of marketing. Meaning, it’s the bit that happens in an eye-blink, that leaves a lasting feeling, that says something true and important and resonant. The goal of marketing is to leave an impression. Your brand is the impression.’

We like that definition. In all honesty, a Google search comes up with a dozen different answers to this question, many reasonable and supported by solid arguments. There’s nuance, and we accept that. What matters then, is how these definitions help you understand and optimise your own marketing and branding. If they illuminate thought or inspire action, then job done.

With that in mind, here are the differences between marketing vs. branding, in our view:

Marketing: a definition

Marketing is a business growth strategy. Or, a set of strategies, tactics and activities that, all together, define, inform and promote your business. Marketing positions your business for a target audience across multiple channels and platforms. It’s a complex machine with many moving parts.

What is the purpose of marketing?

Marketing — inbound marketing that is — encourages audience growth, deepens engagement, generates leads for sales and creates brand awareness.

Who is responsible?

Primarily, marketers.

But sales people, customer service advisors have some input. Senior management has a pretty substantial input.

Sales and CS advisors interact with prospects and customers. So, they can advise on what those people care about, and therefore what the marketing team should focus on.

Senior managers have a broader view of the organisation’s direction of travel. You want to align marketing goals with that business mission.

Key features of online marketing

And so on and so on…

Branding: a definition

Branding is who you are as a business. You could describe your brand in terms of your company mission, culture, and personality. Often (mistakenly), we think of branding as a visual thing, which speaks to “the bit that happens in an eye-blink” from earlier. That is, branding is impressionistic.

What is the purpose of branding?

Branding is how you make a genuine connection with your audience, establish trust and create loyalty. Your brand is what makes you different from your competitors. It’s the thing that ensures you stand out from the crowd.

Who is responsible?

Everyone in your organisation. That’s right. Marketers build awareness of your brand, as we’ve said. But your whole business is part of your brand, so it’s everyone’s responsibility to maintain it.

Key features of a brand

You need both

You can have a fantastic brand, but almost no marketing (so no-one’s heard of you).

You can do loads of marketing but have a lack-lustre brand (so no-one cares about you).

Or, you can have both. (They hear, they care, and so, they act.)

It’s any marketer’s dream to promote a truly inspiring brand. And your brand deserves great marketing. Together they let your light shine and motivate your audience to carry that torch for you, too.

Build a differentiated business brand that stands out from the crowd.