In our previous blog posts, start-up branding strategy, and an introduction to online marketing, we talked separately about how to build an effective online marketing strategy and how great branding attracts an audience.

This time we will explain the differences between branding and marketing. Plus,  which one to focus on first when you’re building your business, and then how to combine these strategies.

What is Marketing?

With marketing, you introduce your product or service to potential customers. You aim to get the attention and interest of people and eventually make sales and increase your profit.

Marketing consists of 5 steps:

  1. Find missing opportunities in the market
  2. Study the market
  3. Find suitable marketing strategies
  4. Build products, value, logistics, advertising
  5. Analyse your marketing strategies’ outcome

There are various marketing strategies: digital marketing, social media marketing, email marketing, B2C, B2B and many others. Different marketing strategies can be chosen and applied simultaneously based on the company’s needs, demographics, products, etc.

What is Branding?

Branding is the distinguishability of your products in the marketplace. It helps you separate your products from similar ones and give them an identity.

Branding is a crucial point of marketing. When we look at our phones, the soft drink we drink, or the shoes we wear, we distinguish them by their logo, colour, shape or typography. We immediately know which companies they belong to.

For instance, Nike uses emotional sentiments in its advertisements. The company promotes shoes and activewear with empowering messages. Through their products, Nike tells stories to its customers.

Another advantage of branding is that it brings brand loyalty to companies. A report reveals that people are loyal to some brands because they match their values, or they believe brand X has better quality or matches better with their personality than brand Y. As a result, they tend to purchase brand X continuously instead of brand Y.

There are different branding strategies, here are some examples:

  1. Company name branding (e.g., Adidas, Apple, Google, Coca-Cola)
  2. Attitude branding (e.g., Converse, Patagonia, Vans, Nike)
  3. Line extension branding (e.g., soft drinks with different flavours or new cars models)

How Do Branding and Marketing Strategies Differ?

  • Branding helps you to build a relationship with your customers, but marketing shows why people should buy your products.
  • Your brand strategy covers a longer-term plan compared to a marketing strategy. Most marketing plans prepare for the short term.
  • Branding creates a guideline for your business about your purpose, target audience and demographic. Marketing focuses on how to reach those people.
  • With branding, you bring awareness, distinguishability and loyalty to your business. Marketing decides how to attract people to buy your products.
  • Branding tells your story, shows your brand’s identity, and carries your message. Marketing is about delivering these elements via advertisement and via other marketing tools.

Three Significant Differences Between Branding and Marketing

Marketing strategies are not permanent, but branding strategies are.

You’ll need different marketing strategies at different points in your business journey. On the other hand, branding stays with you. Branding is about who you are. That’s why you need to be strict about it. Branding builds the relationship between you and your product.

For example, Coca-Cola applies different marketing strategies globally. This is due to the differences in culture, customs, and the society of the different target countries. However, Coca-Cola’s branding strategy is consistent everywhere. Coca-Cola likes to promote the idea that people are having fun and enjoy drinking Coca-Cola.

Marketing brings attention, but branding holds it.

Do you need to get the attention of potential customers and increase sales? Then, use marketing strategies. The advertisement will help you to introduce your brand to your customers.

However, introducing your brand is not enough to keep that attention and the customers with you. People like to connect with brands that match, to some extent, their identity. Your brand’s personality can keep that attention.

Marketing is about profit, but branding builds awareness.

Marketing’s main end goal is to increase sales. So marketing specialists come with short or long-term marketing plans based on time or products. One of the most common and continuously used strategies is Christmas marketing. Many companies set up their scene around family, Christmas decorations and red-white colours. Still, their brands’ identities don’t change during this short-term marketing period.

Branding is consistent and long-term, and it won’t help you make profit directly. Instead, it brings distinguishability to your products. In other words, brand awareness. In the long term, your brand’s distinguishability helps you increase your profit.

Branding vs Marketing, How to Start?

You did your research and created your product. But now, you’re not quite sure about what to focus on first: branding or marketing? Don’t worry, you’re not alone. These two terms cause a bit of confusion for everyone.

Start with branding. After you have your product, you need to think about its features: name, the package’s colour, the logo, language, and so on. Branding brings an identity to your product, tells a story while creating a connection between your product and your customers.

If you don’t have that connector between your product and your customers, you cannot start with marketing. Keep in mind that you start with branding and later focus on marketing.

How to Combine Marketing and Branding

Even though there are differences, you can bring branding to your marketing strategies. Branding tells customers who you are, your promises to them with your product, and your distinguishability from other companies. It’s also about the brand’s design and language. On the other hand, marketing promotes your products and your message.

The intersection point of these two is how to deliver your message to your customers. The message that your company carries is about branding, but the deliverance of it, it’s about marketing.

Marketing specialists focus on tasks like logistics, market analysing, media campaigns, advertising, etc. Campaign and advertising will help you to deliver your brand’s message.

For instance, McDonald’s prefers to use warm and friendly language and images in its marketing campaigns. As a brand, via ads, they want to give the message their food brings accessibility and happiness to everyone.

McDonald’s and others known brands are good at combining their branding and marketing strategies. With their brand image, they do more than sell their products but market their identity.

Can You Have One Without the Other?

If you focus only on marketing, your business will struggle to establish brand awareness, identity and customer loyalty. Also, if you discard marketing strategies, focus on branding that will slow down the numbers of sales, and you’ll lose the customers’ attention.

Every business needs profit to make a permanent stay in the marketplace. Your brand creates the required connection with your customers. Still, you need marketing to remind people to buy from you. In prosperous businesses, these two elements walk hand-in-hand. If you want a successful business and increase profits; in that case, you need to combine your branding and marketing strategies.


Branding and marketing come with specific differences, and they’re two essential elements for businesses for future profit and customer loyalty growth.

It’s crucial to understand the differences between them for better business planning. Just keep in mind that if you’re starting your business, first find your brand’s identity and voice, then decide which kind of marketing strategy you need.

About the author

EWOR is a school conceived by Europe’s top professors, entrepreneurs, and industry leaders. We educate and mentor young innovators to launch successful businesses.

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