Branding vs. Marketing – What’s the Difference?


Companies around the globe spend billions of dollars annually to get in front of their clients and consumers. Yet and still, I find that some folks, even brilliant professionals, mix up marketing and branding. While the two are related, they serve two different functions.

Branding vs. Marketing

The simplest way to explain the difference between branding and marketing is the difference between a strategy and a tactic.

Branding is the process of delivering on a promise to the consumer. Your brand’s identity, communications, positioning, and offerings all contribute to your branding efforts. Branding, like a strategy, is a long-term process. Branding is the “big picture,” the perception, thoughts, and feelings of your consumers. No matter what you are doing, you are always branding your business.

Marketing, on the other hand, is a tactic or a short-term goal. Marketing encompasses many different functions, which usually ends up confusing people. However, marketing always serves one main overall function, to sell. Branding does not.


An Example of the Differences

For example, let’s say you sell financial services to CEOs and executives. You might adopt the strategy of focusing on education-based marketing. By doing so, you’re branding and positioning yourself as the smarter, more educated player in the market. However, simply saying that you’re going to focus on education-based marketing does nothing to actually get you in front of executives to close sales.

That’s where marketing comes in, tactically taking you closer to your end goal of sales while keeping in line with the strategy, step-by-step.

Marketing looks like setting up educational workshops or free webinars to get in front of these executives and educate them, which in turn helps you close more sales. Marketing is more day-to-day, step-by-step, and branding is the overlying message that infused into all your efforts.

Marketing is a “push” action, and branding is more “pull.” (Tweet this!) Subtle, but different nonetheless.

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