Branding vs Marketing — What’s the Difference Between the Two?

Do you know the differences between branding and marketing? Both are necessary for a successful business and people often use these words interchangeably, but they have different meanings.

  • Marketing is a set of processes and tools used to promote your business. Social media, SEO, local search, mobile, traditional promotion, and more fall under this umbrella.
  • Branding, on the other hand, is the culture of your company and the core values it builds on.

Another way to look at it is:


Marketing connects products & services to customers. Branding is what keeps them coming back.

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Branding vs Marketing — a Term Breakdown

Branding Means...

A brand is more than a logo, a catch phrase, or a design. It’s a message of your company’s core values that you share with the world. It captures the attention of like-minded individuals who will be attracted to what you do. At its most basic, a brand builds trust and credibility. It’s a support system for your marketing efforts and gives your company and staff a purpose.

Branding is the culture of your company.

A Brand Example:

When you go to Lowe’s Home Improvement Store, what do you expect to find? You expect your home improvement needs to be met by knowledgeable staff who are willing to help you in your current project. A customer with a bad experience at one store will expect that to be the exception and not the rule. Why is that? Lowe’s has developed a culture of collaboration. At their heart, they want to help you build and improve. This focus is why and how Lowe’s becomes a brand you trust.

Did you know Lowe’s changed their slogan in 2011? Their core principles of “Let’s Build Something Together” still follows them into their current “Never Stop Improving.” That was a change in marketing, but the core values, the brand remained the same.

It’s important to note that a brand and branding strategy are not the same. A branding strategy is how you connect the dots between the brand and marketing in a way that captures the right audience. More on that, later.

Marketing Means...

Marketing refers to the tools you use to share your brand’s message to the world. It can be funny, serious, heartfelt, sobering. It is how you tell your story while selling your products and services to target audiences. Marketing is the use of keywords, ads, content marketing, traditional marketing and other tools to reach potential clients and customers.

Branding is the core foundation of your marketing strategies. If marketing goes awry, you can repair it. Think about bad commercials featuring your favorite restaurant or a book from a favorite author that didn’t connect with you. Did either of those keep you from being a returning customer? Your brand, however, is who you are at your core. If that suffers, so does your reputation.

Branding and Marketing Strategies - Connecting the Terms

Most of the time people mistake branding for branding and marketing strategies. A branding and marketing strategy involves the promotional aspect of your business. These include:

  • Images you share
  • Messages you deliver on your website, proposals, and campaigns
  • Employee interaction with customers
  • Customer’s opinion of you vs. your competition

A branding and marketing strategy uses your corporate, personal, and employer branding in a marketing campaign to entice potential customers and clients. Creating a brand positioning statement will help unify all of your marketing efforts, but marketing efforts will not unify your brand positioning.

Developing a solid brand is a necessary component of your marketing strategy. If you take the time to do it right, you’ll be leagues ahead of the competition.

Ready to take the next step in building your brand? My Startup Tips for Building a Strong Brand will take the guesswork out of the equation.


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