More than a logo: The difference between branding & marketing

Lisa D'Andrea
Jan 18, 2017

While branding and marketing are connected, they not one in the same.

To be honest I really don’t blame anyone for being confused about what the terms 'branding' or 'marketing' actually mean. We all throw these words around interchangeably to talk about businesses, logos and promotional campaigns. As you may have already sleuthed, while branding and marketing are connected, they not one in the same.

It saddens me to see people pouring all of their money and efforts into marketing, without having a clearly defined brand to guide these initiatives. So, it's time we cleared a few things up. While branding is being, marketing is doing. In essence, your brand is who you are and your message, while marketing is how you communicate that message. If you like analogies, you can think of your business as an person—your best friend perhaps. If you think about their looks, personality, reputation and values, these are their brand. These core elements will influence how they communicate, speak and behave, which is how they market themselves.

What is branding?

Branding is about defining your business purpose, your culture and your core message to influence the way someone feels when they engage with your business. After all, whether consciously or unconsciously, we evaluate brands based on our experiences with that brand.

When we discuss branding, we are talking about defining or re-defining a business’ core message to impact the user experience.

Your brand is defined by:

  • Your mission or purpose (Why are you in business? What value you you deliver?)
  • Your brand name (And the connotations or meaning behind it)
  • Your customers (Who are you communicating to?)
  • Your values (What do you stand for? What is important to you?)
  • Your unique point of difference (What makes you different from competitors?)
  • Your visual style (Your colours, typefaces, imagery and other graphical elements and how these are consistently applied)
  • Your tone of voice and writing style (How you communicate with customers in verbal and written form)

Why is branding important?

It will help you to attract customers and staff who share your vision

While people say opposites attract, studies continue to show our fondness for people who are alike to us. A quick Google search will reveal many interesting, and some unsettling articles that show we are attracted to partners who mirror ourselves. Main takeaway—we want to be around people who share our beliefs, values and ideals. The same thought process can be applied to branding. A clear purpose and defined set of values will help both customers and potential staff members decide whether they are aligned with what you stand for. This can connect you to staff and customers who are supportive, loyal and evangelical.      

It provides a memorable point of difference

A strong visual identity, tone and message can help you to stand out from competitors. If you know what you stand for, and all of your customer touchpoints are singing the same tune, over time your customers will begin to remember what you look like and how you make them feel. Regular, consistent and positive brand interactions can help to build loyalty. Here's some of the lessons we can learn from successful brands.    

It provides focus and direction

It’s a lot easier to operate when you and everyone on your staff have a clear picture of your message, who you are and what you stand for. Knowing your core message will help to make decisions about your business on multiple fronts, including staffing, marketing, collaborations and sponsorships.

What is marketing?

Marketing is the overarching term used to describe the tools and processes you use to share your brand message or story with the world. As every brand is different, it only follows that the marketing plan for each business will be different too.

Your marketing tools may include:

  • A branded website
  • Custom photography or imagery
  • Branded business cards and other stationery
  • Branded email templates or email signatures
  • Printed promotional pieces (posters, flyers, ads)
  • Digital brand assets such as social media artwork and digital ads

Your marketing processes may include:

  • Social media marketing
  • Content creation (e.g vlogging, blogging, podcasting)
  • Electronic Direct Mail (EDMs) or Email mailouts
  • Direct mail
  • Advertising (TV, Radio, Print, Online)
  • SEO (Search Engine Optimisation)

Why is marketing important?

It connects your brand to your audience

Marketing is how your brand message is actually communicated on a micro level. It's the website, TV commercial, instagram post or product packaging that connects directly with the consumer. Having a clear brand identity is wonderful and essential—it’s the guts of your business—but it’s pretty useless if only your mum and her cat know that it exists. Marketing helps people to discover your core brand message.

It allows you to gather feedback on brand perception

The interesting thing about branding is that while you can be strategic about how you present yourself, ultimately your brand is determined by how your audience perceives it. When you begin communicating your brand to the world, you can see how it is digested and take steps to correct course if it’s not resonating with your audience in the way you had planned.  

Branding vs. marketing: In a nutshell

Despite many of us using the words interchangeably (or incorrectly), branding and marketing aren’t the same thing. Branding your business is a process of defining your core message and how that will permeate through every aspect of your business, from customer experiences through to staff and stakeholder experiences. Marketing is the processes and tools that are used to communicate that core message. How your brand strategy is actioned through marketing communications determines how your business is perceived by your audience. This perception is your ‘brand’— your customers' understanding of who your business is. And at the end of the day, it's their opinion that really matters for your success.

The interconnectedness between marketing and branding means that your brand strategy will inform your marketing, and feedback from your marketing will inform your brand strategy. That's why you'll want to fine tune them both and have them humming along nicely. But remember, branding and marketing are both cyclical, not linear, and require continuous effort and adjustment over time as you learn more about your business and customers.  

Do you have any thoughts or questions about marketing or branding? I'd love to hear them. Comment below!