Branding vs. Marketing: The Advantage of Knowing the Difference

Achieve business goals by differentiating between branding and marketing tools

Erik Messaki


Unipay — Branding for the digital payment platform by Outcrowd

Global brands differentiate between branding and marketing to create effective market campaigns. But this difference is something all of us, from startups to established brands, need to understand.

Both branding and marketing are tools for building relationships with customers and boosting sales. But they involve very different processes and strategies. Understanding the difference will help you achieve your business goals in the most efficient way possible.

1. Branding vs. marketing in a nutshell

A brand is essentially a hero. It’s got a distinctive look, personality, goals, and superpowers. By following a path of self-improvement, the hero is involved in branding: he becomes stronger, more famous, and more in-demand.

What does a hero need to take over the world? Which superpower is the most important and how can it be boosted? The hero draws up plans, chooses his weapons and allies, and maps the locations of kittens in need of rescue. That’s marketing.

FinVibes — Logo and branding for the financial service startup

2. The differences between branding and marketing

The most fundamental difference is this: a brand is an image and a set of specific expectations in the consumer’s mind, whereas marketing is a way of telling the world about the brand. Branding is the answer to “What?” and “Why?”; marketing is the answer to “How?”

Despite their differences, branding and marketing are closely intertwined and correlated. As the company grows, the brand remains focused on its unique goals and values. Marketing, on the other hand, changes alongside market trends and audience demands.

Unipay — Branding for the digital payment platform

3. No branding dooms marketing

Branding always comes first. Branding creates the company’s image that distinguishes it from its competitors. It establishes your visual identity. This image comprises two crucial elements: the conceptual and the visual.

Understanding what comes first and knowing how to prioritize helps you see things in perspective and plan your tasks efficiently.

There’s no marketing without branding.

It may sound obvious, yet plenty of business owners tend to launch into marketing strategies while their brand is still raw, unpolished, and insufficiently attractive. Then they’re dismayed at the lack of results.

There’s a good joke that will help you understand and remember the difference. Marketing is like asking someone out; branding is what makes them say yes. How many people would say yes to a cheerless unshaven guy in pajamas?

Swif — Branding design for the messenger application

Business owners doom themselves to cost overruns and dismal returns by marketing a product with deficient branding. High-quality brand design is your guarantee that the market will welcome your brand and give it a chance to grow and develop.

Branding fuels marketing, marketing fuels branding.

It’s impossible to build up a perfect brand before promoting it. You have to do both things at once. However being aware of where your brand is in terms of growth at any given time will help you identify the most pressing issues, determine the scope of work, and choose the right strategy.

4. No marketing dooms branding

Branding cannot survive without marketing. No matter how perfect your brand is, no one will ever learn about it without a good marketing campaign. You need to know how to deliver information in a way that will attract the largest possible audience.

Good branding always boosts marketing, and vice versa: poor branding can render all marketing efforts useless.

Polipay — Branding for digital payment platform

5. What’s the advantage of knowing the difference?

Understanding the difference makes your work with the brand highly efficient and cost-effective. Here’s what it gets you:

  • determining the scope of tasks

By separating branding from marketing, you’ll be able to identify two distinct areas of processes and tasks. It will be much easier to answer the following questions:

1) What is your brand like objectively and what does it lack to achieve its goals?

2) What can be done to promote it at this stage?

The differentiation helps you gauge the current state of both areas. It highlights the correlation between branding and marketing tasks. You’ll have no trouble seeing the direction your efforts should take or determining the scope of work.

  • prioritizing

Viewing branding and marketing as separate processes lets you see the “failure zones” and prioritize the tasks before you. Should you pour more effort into promotion or focus on improving and polishing the brand? Can both tasks be tackled at once? By weighing all your options and prioritizing, you will save yourself lots of time, money, and nerves.

  • choosing the right Strategy

Evaluating the current state of the brand and the efficiency of branding helps you work out a marketing strategy. You’ll be able to see at once if launching a promotion campaign would do no good until a specific branding issue has been resolved. The more developed your branding is, the larger your choice of strategies. For example, developing a website or app greatly boosts your marketing capabilities, market reach, and exposure.

  • stimulating growth and development

Few people would say yes to a boring unfamiliar brand. Become attractive and charming first, introduce yourself later. In turn, meeting new people will give you new ideas and make you see what needs to be improved. The superhero hits the gym, dons his cape, and takes over the hearts and minds. He’s on a mission and he’s got work to do!

Branding and marketing support and reinforce one another. Together, they encourage your business to grow and conquer new heights.

Wellcast — Brandbook and guidelines for the podcast platform

In conclusion

“Divide and rule, a sound motto. Unite and lead, a better one.”

— Johann Wolfgang von Goethe

That’s great advice for doing business, too!

By separating branding from marketing, you’ll reinforce and gain control over both. By combining them again, you’ll braid them into a strong thread that will connect the brand with the hearts of the audience.



Erik Messaki

UI/UX Design and Development. Let’s create something wonderful together!